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Muscle memory discovery ends 'use it or lose it' dogma (sciencedaily.com)
236 points by prostoalex 36 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 125 comments

From Wikipedia's description of muscle memory:

> When a movement is repeated over time, a long-term muscle memory is created for that task, eventually allowing it to be performed without conscious effort.

But this article is about enhanced muscle recovery and volume, not about motor learning. I wonder if that's an abuse of the term "muscle memory" or just a different sense. I'm not finding that sense used in a quick search. But the term is also used in the review paper that this article is about, so apparently it has a specialized sense in that discipline.

According to Wikipedia muscle memory as retained skills isn't about muscle fibers, but neurons.


Developing muscle strength is mostly about training and growing the nerves in your muscles to engage more muscle cells when they fire. If your muscles could fire maximally they'd be strong enough to rip tendon from bone.

While your second sentence is definitely true, I disagree with your first. Developing muscle strength is partially caused by training your nerves to better engage your muscle fibers; however, simply adding fibers aka raw muscle mass is the other main component of gaining strength. I would argue it's the predominant factor.

You're both right. Improved muscle fiber recruitment is the primary way beginners gain strength. This is a fairly fast process, but plateaus off quickly. After the so-called "noob gains" are through, growing more muscle is the primary way to gain strength.

My knowledge on the subject is a bit out of date as I'm not in a serious training for more than a decade, but if I remember correctly explanation from my coach there're 3 main aspects of strength: nerve paths to activate the muscle fibers, the volume of muscle cells (when you get "big muscles" you actually don't increase significantly the number of cells, but their volume), and the capability of muscle cells to use and store glucose from the bloodstream (cellular uptake, which is also increased by regular training).

This is largely true. Though, as with anything in the body, the entire system reacts. Bones will change density, the circulatory system also changes in relation to the increased mass, the cerebellum will re-wire due to the increased muscle mass and usage cases, the reproductive systems may change depending on many factors, the pancreas will change it's output of glycogen, etc.

When it comes down to building muscle mass and 'dexterity', the physiology is fairly well understood. For most athletes today the major issues are in repair/strain and consistency. AKA: Sleep well, eat well, train well, in that order. It is theorized that a lot of the recent gains in MLB pitching are due to improved tendon repair chemical therapies and traditional steroids that focus on bulk (no data here, I think I read it on 538 a few years back)

Adding fibres. i.e. adding cells is hyperplasia and it's currently unknown if this occurs naturally in adult humans. Most visible growth can be attributed to hypertrophy, where the cells grow bigger.

My apologies. I was referring to "myofibrils" which are the strands within a muscle cell. So I meant to say that hypertrophy is the mechanism of growth. But you are correct, these are simply parts of a single cell and I mistakenly used hyperplasia.

If I'm not mistaken, muscle fibers can only fire maximally--a muscle fiber either fires (maximally) or it doesn't fire. Isn't muscle fiber recruitment what differentiates delicate, precise motions from gross, explosive motions?

Yes and no. Individual fibers are either On or Off, but individual fibers are grouped into bundles, and any one muscle is composed of many bundles. When you flex a muscle to move a thing, your brain only recruits some of the bundles. The exact amount is determined by some combination of your willpower, focus, training level, and adrenaline.

As you train (that is, try really hard to lift something heavy), you teach your brain that you're going to be lifting heavy things a lot going forward, which makes your brain recruit more muscle fibers when you actually go ahead and lift the thing.

So you're right in one sense, and incomplete in another.

That can't be everything though because otherwise your body wouldn't physically change when you train and they clearly do.

Also why wouldn't evolution just make us all strong all the time if it only requires neurological changes?

Strength is generally an evolutionary drawback, in most cases the benefits of extra strength doesn't outweigh the calorie cost of building maintaining it.

For very costly things like strength and brainpower, evolution is ensuring that we have as much as we require, and not a single bit more; and has all kinds of processes for actively reducing strength that you had unless you have both extra calories and the demonstrated need to use that strength; because it saves calories.

It’s not everything. See muscle hypertrophy: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Muscle_hypertrophy

Probably a combination of not needing to be very strong (we don't use raw strength to hunt very often) and a metabolic cost.

Metabolic cost is a big factor.

It's one of the theories of why homo sapiens out competed neanderthal basically everywhere, we can survive the lean times better.

Iirc they required about twice the average intake of an anatomically modern homo sapiens.

because the more fibers you use for small movement the more energy you consume and higher the risk of actual damage

Source? This is very interesting

And partially incorrect. This is indeed the case for the first few weeks of strength training. In the beginning your body learns to recruit and better utilize the existing muscles you have. But after that the long and slow process of building new muscle mass starts. The CNS adaptation( i.e. the first part) never goes away. That's the reason why if you have trained in the past for at least a couple months and now you restart your training your new starting weights will be higher than your old ones.

Muscle memory is used to describe both, actually. Linked on that page is this in a small section about strength and adaptation:


It's in common usage in the strength and conditioning communities.

That’s always the way I’ve heard the term muscle memory used in a technical setting, but the people I’ve met who go to the gym a lot use it to refer to the phenomenon of gaining back lost muscle much more quickly than it took to build it in the first place.

They don't mean it like we know it, they mean that you can rebuild muscle quickly, basically.

i think they are using the more general definition of memory according to which e.g. antibodies are a memory

"the year is 2095 and it's my first day in 6th grade. Miss Mable is handing out our steroid candies so we will grow big and strong then have a 'bank' of muscle memory to rely on in our secondary and tertiary life stages."

Steroids are not recommended in boys still going through puberty. The surge in testosterone from the puberty itself is enough to provide this effect, because you take advantage of peak test production to produce more muscular nuclei.

This is probably also why my chest is overdeveloped compared to my back, because I was doing hundreds of pushups back then while neglected any sense of balance sadly.

This is also evidenced in the endless submissions to r/fitness on Reddit where 17-19 year olds post their before and after pics bragging about how they didn't use any steroids and when asked about diet, they "just tried to eat healthy". Puberty releases all natural steroids.

Yeah, that is true but also note that a lot of people in that age DO use steroids but no one admits it. The whole fitness industry is built on people on steroids trying sell others that they are not on steroids.

Except heavy weight bodybuilding of course where it is too obvious.

Also "vegan" bodybuilders who made all their gains while they were still meat eaters.

It's a shame all the supplement brands use heavy weight bodybuilders as their mascots, because if there were any discipline where supplements alone just won't cut it, it's for anyone aspiring to be Mr Olympia.

The vast majority of people could get away with real food and regular training to reach their actual fitness goals; not many people want to be as big as Ronnie Coleman. But if you do want to be a competitive bodybuilder in America, you're going to need more than supplements.

The fitness industry also did a great job of convincing people that supplements are the cause of, not an aid, to muscle growth. I was in the ER once for a broken finger, and the poor kid next to me had been to the ER twice that month for stomach pains, and it turned out he had been sitting at his computer slamming down 10 protein shakes a day and doing nothing else. Just one of many similar anecdotes from when I worked in the industry.

Well that and you don't want to prematurely fuse growth plates by supplementing exogenous testosterone

i hope in 2095 we have more targeted ways to do that.

Do we know if intense weight training combined with cardio workout during childhood and adolescence works to build a life time of improved musculoskeletal outcomes?

Has anyone done a longitudinal study in this area?

The strength (and cardio) gains you make as a child will stay. But if you stop training they will go away. But when you however start training again you will have faster gains due to prior training. It all depends on how much you train during your life. While you are the strongest around 30 years old, you will keep most of it until 60 years old if you keep on training. While there are definitely advantages to have been training as a child, I don't think it will be significant when you are 40-50, it will more depend on how active you are during your life. And it's really never too late to start training.

Look up Emsculpt. It's a fascinating/creepy new device that artificially stimulates core muscular contractions, with visibly more exercised and defined muscles after a few sessions with no changes in lifestyle.

One of the benefits of lifting heavy things repeatedly over time is increased bone density.

Do we know if devices like Emsculpt work to improve bone density? I don't know how the cell-signalling cascade works for putting more calcium-mineral matrix in bones so maybe muscle contraction repetition initiates the cascade, or maybe it's insufficient by itself?

Full range of movement training also works to shift lymph back toward the left subclavian vein where it joins venous circulation.[1]

The lymphatic system is the primary cellular waste product transport system, and an immune organ in it's own right.

From what I read about the place this is a significantly understated feature of exercise and plays a key role in the idea that bed rest is massively counter productive in convalescences and post surgery recovery / outcomes.

1 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Subclavian_vein

The mechanism you'll find described in the literature for increasing bone density is through heavy stress (compression) on bones. Your muscles aren't positioned to compress like that anyway. Only heavy weights can. The stress very lightly damages the bone matrix, which is then repaired to above the previous strength.

Correct. Boxers encourage this to happen in their knuckles through things like knuckle pushups. Muy Thai fighters will 'roll' their shins with a bar to cause the same light bone damage.

TENS units have been around for decades. Every once in a while someone tries to turn it into an exercise machine, but this is mostly marketing, not anything new.

This thing is more like a modified MRI machine than a TENS device, which part of the fascinating/creepy quality for me. It's something like orders of magnitude more powerful than TENS.

It's a pulsed electromagnetic device (PEMF) and they have also been around quite ahile. While they've been show to aid bone growth and they probably help recovery in some other, subtle, ways...EMSculpt is classic snakeoil bullshit.

I use my motor neurons to electrically stimulate muscle contraction and it doesn't cost me anything. I mean come on... the wires are already hooked up right in to your brain...

But it requires discipline, while attaching wires to yourself does not.

As many people who bought previous muscle stimulation "as seen on tv" devices bought, it certainly does still require discipline to shock your muscles for an hour or so daily ;)

I'm going to argue that it would be easier to just go and squat out those 5x5s.

The size of the squat rack is another issue however.

Also if your diet is shit and your gut hangs out over the top of your trousers electrically stimulating your abs isn't going to make the slightest bit of difference aesthetically. At least by actually lifting you're also burning calories.

Electrically stimulating your abs also burns calories. Using your muscles requires energy, no matter whether they're activated artificially or not.

The device reportedly causes 20.000 contractions in 30 minutes. And apparently, it's not only volume but also intensity that does the trick. Good luck doing this with you brain, professor.

A lot of progress was slowed by 50 years of mind-warfare.

I've read about this concept somewhere before and found it really inspiring. I would think that knowing that my gains are "preserved" in some form would actually make me more lazy since I'm less afraid of completely reverting all progress, but in reality it just drives me more to build a nice bank for the future. It's super cool knowing that the effort you put in now will keep paying off years down the line, makes working out feel less futile somehow on an emotional level...

Being a naturally skinny guy it took me ages to bulk up in my late teens and early twenties. I find it hard to motivate myself to get back in shape today because I know how hard it would be. But this has inspired me.

I think I can relate! I'm also a naturally skinny woman who started working on building up my fitness in my early 20s - first with running and now more with lifting. I have managed to stay relatively active throughout the ten years since, but sometimes do have lower activity periods when other things get in the way. After such a hiatus I have noticed that when I do ramp back up with the exercise I am able to get back up to my "fittest" levels and rebuild muscle much faster than the original effort. Now I am putting an effort into doing more running along with lifting again for the first time in years and even though I'm still not as fast as I used to be, I'm surprised at just how quickly the performance is improving, and how quickly my running form falls back into place.

Just be aware that (allegedly) your "fat gains" are also preserved - fat cells are only created, never destroyed, and those that exist, even if you starve them and they become smaller (i.e. lose fat/reduce body fat percentage), they'd still get "fat" much easier than growing new fat cells.

Or this might all just be bro-science, you never know ...

There is some debate about this. Cells live for about 7 years, so after that the fat cells should also dissapear.

Autophagy might also recycle empty fat cells.

This is a pretty disconcerting study. What's to stop athletes from using steroids if this is the case? Use steroids to train to a PR, take some time off to let the steroids leave the body, and then just recoup those gains. I think we will start to see this happening in competitive sports, especially in countries like the Dominican Republic, where recruitment into the MLB can pull an entire family out of poverty; I'm not sure that it will be possible to do anything about it.

I genuinely question why people are so concerned if people use science to achieve better results at sports. It often seems like some kind of puritanical moral outrage over drugs.

Edit: I understand the reasoning behind why testing is done. I just question if it is really led by safety concerns, fairness and science or just our default knee-jerk "drugs are bad" culture. There are plenty of other safety concerns in sport that are ignored.

You received six answers along the lines of "drugs do long term damage."

That may be part of the answer, but it feels incomplete. Elite training itself is often unhealthy. And doping techniques vary wildly. There are risks to HGH, EPO, anabolic steroids, and blood doping, but they have radically different risk profiles.

I think it's more that people have an idealized notion of athletes accomplishing something through sheer force of will. So... a scientifically designed training regimen seems fine, chemical alterations to your blood chemistry do not. Training at high altitudes is fine, replacing your blood with blood from when you were at high altitudes is not. Overtraining, eating disorders, destroyed tendons, encephalopathy -- none are ideal, but we seem to tolerate them.

Questions about what to tolerate are fuzzy and pervasive. Testosterone levels are monitored in women's competitions and someone has to decide the cutoff. Progressively sleeker swimsuits were fine, until they weren't. Equipment manufacturers generally advertise increased performance, but if they deliver too much too soon, they get banned.

These are all versions of the question, "What is this sport?" It's deceptive. Seems simple, but after examining all the edge cases, it becomes impossible to deduce from pure reason. Ruling bodies just pile on conventions.

A Supreme Court dissent once argued:

"[S]ince it is the very nature of a game to have no object except amusement (that is what distinguishes games from productive activity), it is quite impossible to say that any of a game’s arbitrary rules is ‘essential.’ Eighteen-hole golf courses, 10-foot-high basketball hoops, 90-foot baselines, 100-yard football fields – all are arbitrary and none is essential. The only support for any of them is tradition and (in more modern times) insistence by what has come to be regarded as the ruling body of the sport[.]"

Banning some supplements but not others is perfectly reasonable, but the fine lines are going to be somewhat arbitrary.

Because these drugs have risks, and if they are allowed then every athlete has to take as much as possible or they won't be competitive. It's a classic "race to the bottom" scenario, where everybody would be better off without the drugs, but they're forced to expose themselves to avoidable heath risk because that's what everybody else is doing.

There's a relevant SNL sketch:


Cannabis will still get you banned, despite not having a high risk profile and being unlikely to help in most sports.

This is my understanding (not particularly my own view but can be).

People are not especially against the science but drugs. Because drugs being drugs come all also with side effects.

When athletes taking the drugs win then it forces other non taking athletes to take the drugs too making them involuntarily put their health into risk.

That is not fair. That is the best reasonable explanation I have been able to come up with.

This would be argument against allowing drugs.

But this I think is not what the most people are against of. The current situation is that the drugs are not allowed. People who still take them gain an unfair advantage. Well, that is not fair.

There is nothing special about drugs that means they have side effects while other things don't.

Take epo for instance. What makes epo risky is not epo, but the increase in red blood cells. Now other things that increase red blood cells like intense training at high altitudes have the same risk. But we always draw the line with drugs.

It's definitely cultural. Imagine a ruling body finds out about a performance enhancing drug and a performance enhancing technique. They have the same risks. Which gets banned?

As a competitive athlete, I value a fair playing field. I don't want the winner to be the one with the best scientific team behind them. That just becomes a race to spend more than anyone else and also happens to leave a trail of damaged or dead athletes. It would be totally de-motivating if I thought everybody was doping and it was just the best doper who wins.

I fully respect this view towards athletic competition. But to what extent do you think this is the case now (even if we assume drug testing catches the cheats perfectly)?

I'd struggle to believe that a person could succeed in, say, an Olympic athletics event without a top-quality nutritionist and team of trainers, probably including in-depth analysis of their biomechanical patterns and minute adjustments they need to make. Even with famous stories like Usain Bolt's McDonald's habits, he's probably had a nutritionist evaluate and design a custom diet based around his liking of McNuggets.

In some very real sense, the poor kid who doesn't have access to this team will never be able to compete, regardless of his 'natural' talent. The same is probably true across a large, large proportion of elite sports.

Now, obviously, we have a system where if you demonstrate enough talent you ideally get pulled into academies or teams or structures where you do start to get access to these teams and facilities - but then if that's the case, how does it matter if the teams are providing non-drug-enhanced meals designed for peak performance or drugged-enhanced meals designed for peak performance?

There are exceptions to the rule though, Donald Thomas jumped higher at his 7th attempt at high jumping as a basketball player (not measuring his run-up, shoes without spikes, arms behind back to land on the mat as if breaking his fall), than years later at the olympics. Sometimes natural talent beats all the science of the world.

Thanks, this is an interesting story I wasn't aware of. Having said that, I think it only partly suggests that 'sometimes natural talent beats all the science of the world.' After all, even when he first tried high jump, it sounds like he was on a collegiate basketball team, where he'd have been going through closely monitored training. (Not as precise or dialed in as an average Olympian, but still, probably pretty solid). To me his subsequent decline in high-jump suggests one of two possibilities:

1) He was gifted at jumping, but got exceptionally unlucky with timing in that his natural abilities were at their peak when he first tried jumping and basically declined constantly thereafter.

2) High-jump training is far from optimized (at least for all athletes), and potentially has a lot to gain from adopting basketball training techniques, since clearly those worked better for Thomas.

In either case, I'm not sold that this story is representative of a general trend whereby the science of the world can only take you so far - simply because those with incredible natural talent, more often than not, also have incredible science already backing them these days. At the elite levels, my strong belief is that it takes both.

I'm not sure I see the difference between winning because you can afford the best biochemical team and winning because you can afford the best kinesiology team and winning because you can afford the best coach.

If we wanted competitive sports to be equal and fair, we'd raise all the athletes from childhood in the same environment with the same training/coaches.

Barring that, it's not fair at all.

Ref: Jamaican Bobsleigh team: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jamaica_national_bobsleigh_tea...

(note: I'm obviously not advocating for leveling the playing field by raising athletes from childhood in some dystopian nightmare scenario)

The same is true in pretty much any competition. Esports are banning performance enhancers and give competitors the same hardware to play on (at least on lan). Many (most?) racing competitions have very strict rules when it comes to cars so that one team doesn't just end up with a faster car.

Steroids ruin your body in the long run, where the long run can be as short as a few months. The moral outrage has a purpose, it's to prevent a Malthusian Nash equilibrium where all athletes are forced to ruin their bodies in order to have six months of a chance at high-level competition.

Lol and pro athlete career doesn’t ruin your body? Reason why steroid are banned is because they work so well, period.

Because they don't frame it as you do, 'using science to achieve better results', to which no-one could object, but as cheating.

I think it's more about having a level playing field so that drugs aren't the norm. But for spectator sports, it's probably more exciting when all the players are artificially enhanced with drugs into mutant gorillas. Sucks for the players though.

Because those drugs have serious health issues and you risk death by taking them. We don't want every sport person to have to destroy their body and be on the edge of death to keep up with everyone else.

> I just question if it is really led by safety concerns, fairness and science or just our default knee-jerk "drugs are bad"

It's a race to the bottom kind of situation. There are plenty of substances that have been shown to not have any side effects but act as performance boosters( creatinine comes in mind) that are perfectly legal and every athlete uses. So I think steroid bans are meant to protect athletes.

> I genuinely question why people are so concerned if people use science to achieve better results at sports

Because the only point of sports is human performance. If we wanted to use science, we'd use machines instead.

Not just drugs, governing bodies very much disliked when swimming records fell left and right due to better swimsuits. Or how bikes must be upright and have a minimum weight.

We don’t want people doing damage to their long term health just for entertainment for the rest of us

But when you look at some sports, that's exactly what doing that sport on a professional level does.

Yea it's not good, we want to make sports as safe as we can.

No, I mean that participating on that sport will damage your health. Think back on all the talk about TBI in football. There are plenty of rough sports out there that people have no real problems with, because we haven't figured out how exactly it causes damage to your body.

Even just weightlifting on a professional level seems to harm a person's body, but it's only visible once they become older. You can't easily claim that "we ban drugs from sports because it damages people's health" when the sport itself also damages people's health.

Yea so let's not make it even worse by allowing performance enhancing drugs. You're saying it's already dangerous so let's just push it all the way??

One thing that should give athletes pause (though probably won't dissuade them entirely) is that drug testing is getting better. You might test clean now but have your sample retested years later with better tech and be stripped of your medals.

Why would that dissuade anyone? Win a gold medal and keep it (and fame, resulting endorsement deals, etc) for ten years vs don't win it at all, live in poverty and obscurity, etc. Tough choice!

I wouldn't be surprised if there's already drug use at the top end of any professional sport. This study doesn't really bring anything new in that regard, since it's even easier to maintain gains than recoup them via the muscle memory effect.

anyone who has ever been involved with or been close to the world class level in a physical sport will know that there are performance enhancing drugs used at that level across the board.. tons. too easy to avoid testing and too many incentives to perform.

If you study Justin Gatlin’s career, you’d find few explanations for the times he posted in his 30s. Other than payoff from earlier steroid use.

This already happens.

Have you ever noticed that sometimes athletes get caught with trace amounts? And then blame the hairgel and epsom salts?

Or maybe their trainers were giving it to them in the offseason and they didn't quite get rid of it all before season's end.

I think it would be more surprising if this kind of thing didn't happen.

It's my understanding that this is what they do now.

I mean it is very similar to doing weight training around puberty instead of in your 30s.

From age 12 to 18, I biked 20 km to school and back every day. It's been two decades with a very sedentary life style and the occasional attempt of trying to get in shape. I notice every time that my legs regain strength a lot faster than any other part of my body.

When I started playing an instrument again, that I stopped playing ten years ago, all came back. Ofc you need some muscles to play it well (especially when you play something demanding on a bass), but it felt like riding a bike after a long winter.

Same here, I'm currently experiencing this and it's very impressive. After 15 years not playing the guitar, it's been 1 month since I've started again and it's like everything is coming back really fast, even some good practices I had mentally forgotten.

I'm 15 years removed from the last time I played the Saxophone. I've been thinking about picking one up again recently. I'm hopeful that with some dilligence I could get back to where I was without too much trouble.

Agreed. As a finger picker my main issue with taking long breaks from bass is the lack of finger callouses!

Here's an interesting question. If it's proven that there are long term benefits to moderate steroid use, is it ethical to ban them for non competitive athletes?

Unless I'm misunderstanding, I don't think steroids are banned for non-competitive athletes. Who would test them and why? They're not competing anywhere.

As a manner of speaking, the word “banned” indicates a rule forbidding use in formal competition, under penalty of disqualification.

But, in the medical sense, there are a number of layers that restrict access to substances, even over the counter drugs are subject to regulation and laws, as well as prescription drugs, research chemicals, known toxins, and hazardous chemicals. All for many different reasons.

The class of anabolic steroids that body builders and weight lifters use are definitely going to land you in jail if you have them or provide them to a peer.

It doesn’t mean they are completely unavailable, but really, they are almost entirely outlawed to the same degree as crack, meth and so many other drugs around the world. Often veterinarians are the black or grey market source.

They cause harm, to the point of leaving behind a wake of debilitating destruction among the lives of users, causing awful damage that emerges later, in ruinously subtle ways, or suddenly killing without warning, by way of cardiac problems or strokes.

People use them, the results can be frightening and permanent, and a few years later, deadly.

> They cause harm, to the point of leaving behind a wake of debilitating destruction among the lives of users, causing awful damage that emerges later, in ruinously subtle ways, or suddenly killing without warning, by way of cardiac problems or strokes.

> People use them, the results can be frightening and permanent, and a few years later, deadly.

This is exaggerated. There is an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, and maybe irritability at high doses. Closer to the risks of taking a medication than a street drug.

>Closer to the risks of taking a medication than a street drug.

Which street drugs? The comparison reminds of making the distinction between "natural" and "chemical" drugs. Sounds nice if you want to convey an image but not a sensible generalization. You will find quite a lot of street drugs that are less dangerous then some types of medication and vice versa.

Everything besides cannabis? The most prevalent street drugs besides cannabis are cocaine, heroin, ecstacy, and methamphetamine.

All of those are quite a bit more dangerous than the average medicine you get prescribed by our doctor just because of addiction potential and inconsistent quality of the end product.

What is an average medication? Its an extremely broad generalization that doesnt make much sense. It includes everything from chemotherapeutic agents over Fentanyl over Aspirin to coal tablets. There are quite a few medications that are a lot more dangerous than the drugs on your list. And they are more dangerous for a reason, as they still have fewer side effects then the illness they are trying to combat.

Unless you are talking about the purity of the product, i dont see a sensible case for the comparison of street drugs with pharmaceuticals.

lol they are illegal... they are banned for citizens by the government.

This is incorrect. What's banned (in many western countries) is distribution unless there is a medical prescription.

But nothing prevents people from using them, same with other drugs like cocaine and heroine.

It's misleading to say "nothing prevents people from using them" if it's a crime to buy them, and if it's a crime for someone to sell them to you.

Furthermore, for other drugs like cocaine and heroine, in many countries not only distribution is banned, but also possession and use itself.

Possession is also illegal. At least in the US and many other countries.

Which is exactly the definition of being "banned".

In my country at least I need a prescription from a doctor if I want to take antibiotics, does that mean they're banned here?

I've never heard of someone being charged with possession of antibiotics without a prescription. That happens with steroids.

Is that right? How come you can find them in pharmacies?

Steroids are not legal lol

They are legal medicine. If you suffer from serious disease, doctor will prescribe them to you.

Now interesting question is: if someone wants to have big muscles - is it serious disease? In some sense it's similar to silicon breast implants - in both cases it's mental 'disease'/disfunction/discomfort - so some doctor's help is needed. Or surgery due to bad looking nose eg.

Steroids generally prescribed for disease (corticosteroids) are not the same as Anabolic steroids. Same class/grouping but different molecular structure and it's worth making the distinction when talking about the legality of them

Testosterone is used to treat hypogonadism and probably other conditions, so I'm not sure what your point is.

I just thought in the legality discussion its worth making sure people are talking about the same class of steroids as they are already treated and classified differently under the law.

Anabolic steroids are a Class C drug in the UK so in general are illegal to possess and distribute unless prescribed.

  Steroids are not legal lol 
  They are legal medicine
So both these statements are true and false depending on which class of steroid you are talking about or if you are talking about the group as a whole. So to have a productive discussion on the legality you need to be specific about which class and not group them together.

Anabolic steroids are illegal in the US and UK (unless otherwise prescribed) whilst most of the other classes in the UK at least are not illegal to possess or even distribute

> Anabolic steroids are a Class C drug in the UK so in general are illegal to possess and distribute unless prescribed.

So they are legal - only access is controlled (prescription from doctor).

Alcohol and cigarettes are legal - only access is controlled (age).

Violence is legal - only access is controlled (police).

Tortures are not legal - no one has access to do that.

Capital punishment is not legal (in some countries) - no one has access to do that.

Exactly. Testosterone is just a medicine and it's even prescribed to old ladies if their condition need that (I know one such case). Testosterone gives a lot of power when your body is weak after some other treatment. As a side effect (or maybe desired when due to disease you're losing your muscles) is getting more muscles and energy.

Unfortunately it's not proven; nor is it completely risk-free.

But let's assume it was, I don't think ethics ever came into question when making substances illegal.

Depends on the drug. Testosterone is very well studied and has been for decades.

There is still a huge lack of information regarding long term (or even short term) exogenous Testosterone usage - and again, it's definitely not without risks or unforeseen circumstances - this is for both low and high dosages.

Hasn't this been known for a while? My personal trainer has a degree in this stuff and he was telling me muscle mitochondria never go away once grown and that was years ago.

I thought it was the nucleus on the muscle cells, not the mitochondria but I might be wrong.

This explains how Christian Bale is able to do what he does, gaining and losing weight for roles.

Yes. This doesn't feel new to me. I was just researching last year on "muscle memory" trying to understand what I could expect by getting back to lifting myself from an actual science and study point of view. This versus the bro-science-cum-common-wisdom of muscle memory.

What I was turning up didn't seem particularly new, but the consensus seemed to be you could expect return to previous performance levels(in strength anyway) in about 12 weeks or so of proper training and diet.. Almost regardless of how long you have been off. Obviously there are exceptions and extremes that probably don't play out that way, but this has also been about my experience of on-and-off again body building and strength training for the past 15 years.

Often the nervous system recovers too fast in my experience. One can ramp up work effort way faster than the muscles and tendons are prepared for, particularly stabilizing components, resulting in strains and pains. Sticking to a ramp up plan is, IMHO, almost as hard as quitting smoking but crucial.

Ped use is sort of an open secret in hollywood

Are there any safe, easy to acquire steroids that I can use once so that I can gain the long term benefits?

if you are male you can go to a testosterone therapy clinic and essentially just say that you are tired and or depressed and get prescribed 200mg of testosterone per week

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