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February 13, 2012, last updated September 30, 2015
By Drew Reed, Contributing Columnist
Guys, let’s face it, who doesn’t want to be in great shape? In our
popular culture, we all see images of the ripped, burly guys as getting
ahead in life; they always get the nice house, the best job, and do well
with the ladies. As a result, so many men out there try to bulk up, and
in many cases they try to do it quickly.
But while building muscle mass is generally a good thing for your
health, it has a dark side, especially if you do it quickly or are still
young. The Center for Disease Control estimated in 2005 that as many
as 6.1 percent of high school students take steroids on a regular basis,
and adult usage is also common, with the Education Resources
Information Center estimating that 54 percent of male body builders
use steroids. In fact, the endless pursuit of super-sized muscularity,
has been dubbed "bigorexia" by scientists. (Read more about
"bigorexia" and its health dangers.)
In addition, authorities such as the Food and Drug Administration have
been on the lookout for harmful body building products that bill
themselves as steroids; in 2009 they issued a warning for 65 products
that billed themselves as supplements but in actuality contained harmful
additives with dangerous side effects. That’s why it’s a good idea to be
aware of the dangers to your health when you’re building up muscle,
so you can get the body you want without dangerous side effects.
What are the health dangers of adding muscle too fast? What are the
downsides of bulking up too fast?
Here is our Top 5 list of reasons you should not add muscle too fast.
1. – Changes to Sleep Patterns
While building muscle has many health benefits, attempting to do so
too rapidly can result in a number of problems relating to how you
sleep. This occurs when you do what is called “over-training”, which is
when your body’s workload surpasses the rate at which it heals
Over-training creates a number of negative effects on the body. Doctor
and columnist Lonnie Lowery notes that over-training can have a
number of deleterious effects on the central nervous system; over-
stimulation during long workout sessions – especially without proper
recovery – can lead to disruption of normal sleeping patterns and
difficulty in being able to relax.
2 – Aggravation of Other Medical Conditions
One other problem that can occur when people overtrain to build
muscle mass quickly is that there are a number of conditions that can
arise after a strenuous workout has depleted the body of resources
that it can’t recover right away.
There are a number of conditions that can either be made worse by
overtraining, or if already present, can cause a regular training session
to push over into the “overtraining“ column. These conditions include
jet lag, ongoing or chronic illnesses, or strenuous work environments.
In addition, a study conducted by Thieme eJournals in 2011 concluded
that if you continue to overtrain in spite of these or other symptoms,
you may require increasingly longer periods of recovery times.
3 – Unintended Fat Gain Due To Change In Dietary Needs
In the midst of all this seemingly dire news, there is some good news
The American Heart Association notes that, while weight gain in the
form of fat is quite unhealthy, weight gain in the form of muscle mass is
not. Most weight gain can be very unhealthy if it is in the form of fat,
since it is taxing on the various systems of the body. But adding muscle
mass doesn’t create these strains, and thus it doesn’t create any similar
shock to the system.
As long as you can do it safely and without using dangerous
supplements (healthy supplements are ok), you shouldn’t have any
However, doing so can be difficult. Building muscle mass quickly is a
difficult thing to do in general. In many cases, detrimental effects due
to muscle gain stem from extreme training techniques as we have noted
earlier, or negative effects of dangerous supplements. However, the
addition of muscle mass to your body does change the needs your
body has in general.
Muscles require more calories, and many people who gain muscle mass
find that they have a difficult time adjusting their diets to the increased
need in a healthy way. In some cases, people gain weight but then eat
more foods that put fat on them as well, leading to a backfire of
additional weight in the form of fat, which especially if done quickly can
have very negative effects.
4 – Danger of Products With Hidden Side Effects
There are many products out there that bill themselves as a supplement
to help you bulk up quickly. And we all know that a good diet is critical
to helping build muscle mass as quickly as possible.
There are some supplements that can help you greatly in building up a
great body, but sadly, not everything that bills itself as a “supplement”
is free of potentially dangerous chemicals. As noted earlier, the Food
and Drug Administration (FDA) revealed a few years back that there
were a number of products which were branded and marketed as
supplements, but really contained various steroids and other products
that could have potentially negative effects.
The FDA continues to investigate body building products as they are
released, but you still have to be on your toes to make sure you don’t
end up buying something that looks like an attractive supplement but
can really have a negative effect.
Keep an eye out for these ingredients in whatever you buy:
Superdrol," "Madol," "Tren," "Androstenedione," and/or "Turinabol."
The Food and Drug Administration notes that these should really be
considered as steroids, and come with a number of grave risks,
including liver failure.
5 – Side Effects of Dangerous Bulking Supplements
It’s widely known that many body builders, or people hoping to gain
muscle quickly, will in many cases resort to all kinds of supplements,
pills, powders, and snake oils with the hope of bulking up fast. But
when you do this, you’re potentially putting your body in the line of fire.
Some of the most frequently abused body building chemicals are
anabolic steroids. These are frequently abused by many people,
especially high school students hoping to bulk up for athletic programs.
While steroids in small doses can have beneficial effects and are often
used by people who suffer from asthma among other maladies, they
can be very damaging.
There are a litany of detrimental effects reported by steroid users,
including high blood pressure, hardening of the arteries
(atherosclerosis), heart palpitations, elevated cholesterol levels,
infertility, baldness, and mood swings. (Read more about how steroids
can slow your heart down too much.)
The US Drug Enforcement Agency also points out that anabolic steroids
can be addictive, noting that users report withdrawal and inability to
quit. Besides steroids, there are a number of other bulking agents with
negative effects. Bodybuilding.com lists a number of products to avoid,
including vanadyl sulfate, methoxy, and epinephrine, with varying
While these effects can be bad, you shouldn’t let this steer you away
from building muscle in a healthy way, which can have many benefits to
your well being and self image. Just don’t be taken in by products or
methods that promise quick muscle gain, which capitalize on your
feeling of urgency and give you results which can ultimately be harmful.
The best way to avoid this is to try to build muscle at a reasonable rate.
If you can wait just a bit longer, you’ll have all of the benefits of being
in shape and without putting yourself at risk.
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|Bulking up too fast can seriously
impair your health, according to