Taking Steroids Without Working Out (6 Facts You Must Know)

Benedict Ang, CPT, PN1-NC
Published by Benedict Ang, CPT, PN1-NC | Staff Writer & Senior Coach
Last updated: November 29, 2023
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In my experience as a trainer for over ten years, I’ve never seen an incredible physique without effort. Even many steroid users put in the work.

While I fully understand how steroids work, I decided to research to what degree they enable gains without working out.

So, I teamed up with an endocrinologist and spent a few weeks reviewing and discussing the scientific literature on the matter.

In this article, we’ll look at what happens if you take anabolic steroids without working out, how steroids increase muscle mass, as well as the dangers of doing steroids.

Quick Summary

  • Taking steroids without working out will still allow your muscle tissues to grow because of the increased testosterone levels. However, the growth may not be as significant as when combined with regular workouts.
  • You can lose body fat by taking steroids and not working out, but it depends on your diet and lifestyle.
  • Long-term usage of steroids is linked to prostate cancer, male infertility, and myocardial damage.
  • In my view, steroid use without regular exercise is a shortcut that can lead to future health and psychological challenges.

What Happens if You Take Anabolic Steroids Without Working Out?

A doctor holding a syringe

When you take anabolic steroids without working out, your testosterone levels increase, allowing your muscle tissue to grow. However, the overall impact on your physique may not be as dramatic as when exercise is involved [1].

Personally, I know friends who took steroids and slacked on exercising. They reportedly experienced mood swings, increased aggression, and other mental health issues. It's much safer to exercise when taking steroids to avoid some of these effects.

However, doing a steroid cycle without working out is almost like eating a high-protein diet without exercising.

You will gain some amount of muscle, but it won’t be as significant compared to when both steroids and workouts are combined.

Gaining muscle — with or without steroids — takes a lot of discipline. Most bodybuilders who put on a lot of muscle size take steroids in conjunction with a high-protein diet and strict lifting routine.

Can Steroids Help You Lose Fat Without Working Out?

Close up shot of a person's belly with a measuring tape

Yes, steroids can help you lose fat without working out. However, the amount of fat you lose greatly depends on your diet and lifestyle. A balanced diet and healthy lifestyle are crucial for optimal results.

Increase Your Metabolic Rate

Certain steroids like clenbuterol are known for increasing your body’s metabolic rate, which speeds up your fat loss without cardio or resistance training [2].

However, in this context, diet plays a crucial role. Some foods and eating habits can mitigate or exacerbate the effects of steroids.

That's why I always encourage some of my clients on steroids to go for a balanced diet for their bodies to manage the response to the same.

Stimulate Thermogenesis

Clenbuterol increases your body temperature through thermogenesis — a process where your body produces heat by metabolizing fat or the food you eat [3].

Once your temperature and metabolism are high, fat loss becomes easier because your body starts burning more calories than you eat.

If you take clenbuterol without exercising but go on a caloric deficit, you’ll still drop pounds fairly quickly or won’t gain weight for the most part.

The combination of thermogenesis and caloric deficit will help you lose weight faster.

Most of the bodybuilders I know take clenbuterol when they want to cut and gain fat-free-mass. But just like other anabolic steroids, it has a more potent effect when taken alongside diet and exercise for weight loss.

How Do They Build Muscle Mass?

A male lifting a dumbbell

Steroids help you build more muscle mass and strength by increasing your testosterone. This hormone plays a key role in muscle development and strength enhancement.

Testosterone is a sex hormone (present in both men and women) responsible, among other things, for male sex characteristics like muscle growth, facial hair growth, and a deepened voice.

Specifically speaking, testosterone is an androgen. Androgens are hormones that are heavily involved with body maturation and sexual development.

Before we get into the science of how steroids help grow muscle mass, we need to understand how testosterone plays a role in the process.

Anabolic Effects of Testosterone

Testosterone has what are called anabolic effects, which include building muscle mass and increasing bone density [4].

If you maintain healthy T-levels, which differ with age, it will be easier to develop and maintain muscle mass [5].

Likewise, if you have low T-levels, you will experience a decrease in muscle mass and have a difficult time building it.

“Low testosterone cause depression, lethargy, and fatigue that can keep you from exercising to lose fat and build muscle.”

- Dr. Ronald Tamler, MD

How Anabolic Steroids Work as Testosterone

Anabolic steroids are designed to increase your T levels by giving your body an external source of testosterone (known as exogenous testosterone).

So, when you start a steroid cycle, your body decreases the natural production of testosterone because it receives it from the steroids.

Depending on how much you take, your body composition will respond with the corresponding anabolic effect, allowing you to form a fat-free mass.

An Unfair Advantage

A man in the gym flexing his muscles

While steroids without exercise won’t give you the same results as with exercise, studies report something interesting.

Research suggests that you may gain more lean muscle and strength from using steroids and not working out than lifting naturally [6].

This study consisted of four groups.

Two experimental groups:

  • Testosterone group that didn’t work out
  • Testosterone group that worked out

Two control groups:

  • Placebo group that didn’t work out
  • Placebo group that worked out

The experimental groups were given 600 mg of testosterone per week for 10 weeks.

The study found that the testosterone group that worked out experienced the highest strength and muscle gains, and the placebo group that didn’t work out received little to no gains.

However, the interesting piece here is that the testosterone group that didn’t work out showed better results with muscle size and strength than the placebo group who worked out.

This study showed that steroids give you an unfair advantage. But the gains aren’t worth the risk on account of the many side effects of steroids.

Side Effects

A man in the gym lifting dumbbells

Regardless of the weight training and keeping gains after a steroid cycle, most of the side effects will be the same.

That’s because people who take anabolic steroids for medical purposes also report seeing similar side effects.

Here are some of the most common physical and psychological side effects users experience.

  • Male infertility: Abuse of steroids may cause infertility in men through hypogonadism — when testicles fail to produce hormones required for reproduction [7].
  • Increased risk of prostate cancer: Research suggests a correlation between steroid misuse and prostate disease [8]. Even elderly male patients who were treated with anabolic steroids had an increased risk of prostate cancer [9].
  • Gynecomastia (male breasts): Anabolic steroid usage is associated with the formation of male breasts because it causes hormonal imbalance [10].
  • Myocardial damage: Research studies on clenbuterol found that this anabolic steroid may cause damage to the heart’s muscular tissue [11].
  • Side effects on women: In women, misuse of anabolic steroids can cause male-pattern baldness, excessive body hair growth, coarse skin, decreased breast size, and deepened voice [12].
  • Psychological side effects: Many reports found that people who use steroids show increased signs of irritability, verbal aggression, and violent tendencies due to hormonal changes [13].

The long-term health implications of steroids are a cause for concern. Aside from the effects mentioned above, prolonged use can lead to hormonal imbalances, organ damage, and potential addiction.

That's why I always emphasize the need to understand this before considering steroid use without exercise.

Are There Better Alternatives to Steroids?

A person drinking a pre-workout drink

Yes, there are better alternatives to steroids: legal steroids and a high-protein diet. These alternatives can provide similar benefits without the associated risks of illegal steroids. However, to get the muscle-building effects of both of these, you’ll need to lift weights and control what you eat.

Let’s look at how these means can help you with muscle gain and fat loss.

The unauthorized use of steroids is prohibited in many places, especially in sports. It can lead to legal issues including fines and imprisonment.

That said, consider legal steroids. These are bulking supplements that naturally boost your testosterone so you can grow muscle cells and lose body fat quickly.

They’re especially helpful if you suffer from low testosterone. Using only natural ingredients, legal steroids can help you slightly push the genetic barriers that don’t allow you to grow muscle.

Many natural bodybuilders use legal steroids to build muscle size, enhance their strength, and shed fat because they don’t wreak havoc on their health.

For people looking to gain muscle quickly, safely, and naturally, we highly recommend going with only the best legal steroids on the market:

Testosterone-Boosting Foods

There are several wholesome foods that help you naturally improve testosterone production and enhance muscle-protein synthesis.

I always encourage my clients who come in with low testosterone to try foods like ginger, oysters, pomegranates, green leafy vegetables, fish oil, onions, and extra-virgin olive oil. I've seen them do wonders on their overall health and in regards to boosting natural testosterone production [14].

A testosterone diet plan rich in muscle-building foods and legal bodybuilding steroids, combined with a muscle-definition workout routine, can put you well beyond your current capacity to increase and build lean muscle mass.

Healthy Lifestyle

A poor lifestyle can significantly reduce your testosterone production, making it difficult to grow muscle and get rid of fat.

Poor sleep, bad diet, and lack of exercise can also significantly affect your T-levels [15].

By fixing these, you can avoid the effects of low testosterone and build muscle quickly without having to resort to anabolic steroids for exogenous testosterone.


Can Natural Steroids Help You Build Muscle Without Working Out?

No, natural steroids cannot help you build muscle without working out. Unlike their illegal counterparts, legal steroids raise your natural testosterone levels.

But they don’t change your hormonal balance the way anabolic steroids do.

Can You Make Gains With HGH Without Working Out?

Yes, you can make gains with human growth hormone (HGH) without working out.

HGH stimulates your cell metabolism and liver-insulin-protein production. This plays a major role in bone, organ, and muscle growth.


  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4160183/
  2. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/319927
  3. https://www.webmd.com/pain-management/what-you-need-to-know-about-clenbuterol-for-bodybuilding
  4. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/fitness/in-depth/performance-enhancing-drugs/art-20046134
  5. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/2917954/
  6. https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJM199607043350101
  7. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4744441/
  8. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3955334/
  9. https://www.mayoclinic.org/drugs-supplements/anabolic-steroid-oral-route-parenteral-route/before-using/drg-20069323
  10. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/11715139/
  11. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23844963/
  12. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/anabolic-steroid-misuse/
  13. https://nida.nih.gov/publications/research-reports/steroids-other-appearance-performance-enhancing-drugs-apeds/how-does-anabolic-steroid-misuse-affect-behavior
  14. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/323759#top-8-testosterone-boosting-foods
  15. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4445839/
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