Are Steroid Gains Permanent? (M.D. Shares Study)

Benedict Ang, CPT, PN1-NC
Published by Benedict Ang, CPT, PN1-NC | Staff Writer & Senior Coach
Last updated: January 26, 2024
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From my decade-long experience observing professional bodybuilders who take steroids, I noticed that they easily jump right back into shape after several months or even years of not working out.

I wanted to find out to what degree steroid gains are permanent, so I teamed up with an endocrinologist and a colleague of mine who has used steroids over the years to review various case studies on steroid users.

Here’s what I found out.

Quick Summary

  • Steroids can give you permanent gains as it changes how your body builds muscles.
  • Muscle gains through steroids are triggered by an increase in testosterone levels.
  • Trenbolone steroid is the best for giving you permanent gains.
  • In my personal opinion, legal steroids provide a middle ground, offering some of the benefits of anabolic steroids without the associated risks.

Do Anabolic Steroids Give You Permanent Gains?

A person with good body gains

Yes, anabolic steroids can leave you with lasting muscle gains. They tweak how your body muscles up.

University of Oslo research shows that even a short steroid stint can have long-term muscle benefits [1].

In 2013, a study with mice in the Journal of Physiology backed this up. Mice given a quick testosterone boost developed a kind of "muscle memory," helping them bulk up faster later [2].

These findings hint that once you bulk up on steroids, your muscles "remember" how to grow more down the road.

While both studies were performed on mice, the researchers stated that the results could apply to humans as well. Let's get into the nitty-gritty of how muscles and steroids work together, especially in humans.

The Science Behind Muscle Growth and Performance-Enhancing Drugs

A graphic of molecules and atoms

Understanding Muscle and Myonuclei

Unlike other cells in the body, muscle cells don’t divide. They rely on cells called satellite cells to regenerate and rebuild themselves. Muscle hypertrophy means muscle fiber growth, not the increase in the number of muscle cells.

And then there are myonuclei, which are your muscle cell nuclei. Think of them as the central command unit of your muscle fibers.

You gain more myonuclei from training your muscles. While people initially believed you lose these after you stop lifting, recent research by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences suggests otherwise [3].

Actually, Science Direct studies show that myonuclei stick around, helping rebuild muscle fast when you hit the weights again [4].

This research suggests two things:

  1. Your muscles “remember” how to rebuild themselves
  2. Former users could potentially go undetected in future events while having an unfair advantage in training

Now, let's take a quick look at how anabolic steroids work.

How Steroids Enhance Muscle Size and Strength

A person flexing his muscles at the camera

A 2019 research published in the National Library of Medicine shows that your body has ways to naturally increase testosterone production, which is required for protein-muscle synthesis [5].

Steroids act as synthetic testosterone, overcoming these natural limits. Research from the National Library of Medicine shows steroids activate satellite cells, pushing muscle growth beyond natural capabilities [6]. In essence, steroids extend muscle strength and size beyond what's naturally possible.

This physiological change in your testosterone can affect the way your muscle cells grow and keep your gains even after a steroid cycle.

Athletes often prefer 'dry steroids' for minimal fluid retention, making sure weight gains stick after the cycle. Post Cycle Therapy (PCT) helps bodybuilders keep those gains and reset hormone levels, especially when testosterone dips post-cycle.

Related: How Fast Do Steroids Build Muscle?

How Steroids Change Muscle Memory

Anabolic steroid usage in conjunction with working out can significantly increase your muscle cell nuclei, as per NLM [7].

This basically means if you take steroids and work out, you produce multiple nuclei that will “remember” how to build lean muscle quickly in the future.

Better Alternatives

Close up shot of pills and supplements for performance enhancement

The allure of steroids offering lasting gains or easy rebuilding is strong, but their health risks often outweigh the benefits.

I've known people who regretted early steroid use due to side effects and health issues. Opting for legal steroids is a safer alternative.

They’re natural testosterone-boosting supplements that'll enhance your strength training, muscle growth, and fat burn without wreaking havoc on your health.


Will Past Steroid Use Ban You From Future Athletic Events?

Yes, past steroid use will ban you from future athletic events. However, this only applies if you were caught using steroids in the past.

Which Steroid Gives You the Most Permanent Gains?

Trenbolone is the steroid that gives you the most permanent gains. However, you need to keep working out to maintain your gains.

Cortisone vs Steroid: What's the Difference?

Cortisone is a specific type of corticosteroid used to treat inflammation, while "steroids" is a broader term that can refer to various types of steroids, including corticosteroids and anabolic steroids.

Why Natural Gains Are Better

Steroids might give you some permanent gains, but they also come with dire consequences. The results aren’t really worth the risk.

That’s why it’s better to stick with natural gains, for which I recommend taking recommended legal steroids to fast-track the progress. Here are our top choices:

These supplements are made from natural testosterone-boosting ingredients that’ll help you build muscle fast, enhance your workouts, and motivate you to keep your gains.


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