Anabolic steroids are of course well-known in the sports and bodybuilding worlds as huge performance enhancers; specifically, they add muscle and strength, and cut fat mass. So how do they work? One way is by increasing exercise tolerance. The athlete who uses steroids can return to the gym or the field much more quickly than one who does not use them.
The influence of an anabolic androgenic steroid (AAS) on thymidine and amino acid uptake in rat hindlimb skeletal muscles during 14 days after a single exhaustive bout of weight lifting was determined. Adult male rats were divided randomly into Control or Steroid groups. Nandrolone decanoate was administered to the Steroid group 1 wk before the exercise bout. [3H]thymidine and [14C]leucine labeling were used to determine the serial changes in cellular mitotic activity, amino acid uptake, and myosin synthesis. Serum creatine kinase (CK) activity, used as a measure of muscle damage, increased 30 and 60 min after exercise in both groups. The total amount of weight lifted was higher, whereas CK levels were lower in Steroid than in Control rats. [3H]thymidine uptake peaked 2 days after exercise in both groups and was 90% higher in Control than in Steroid rats, reflecting a higher level of muscle damage. [14C]leucine uptake was approximately 80% higher at rest and recovered 33% faster postexercise in Steroid than in Control rats. In a separate group of rats, the in situ isometric mechanical properties of the plantaris muscle were determined. The only significant difference was a higher fatigue resistance in the Steroid compared with the Control group. Combined, these results indicate that AAS treatment 1) ameliorates CK efflux and the uptake of [3H]thymidine and enhances the rate of protein synthesis during recovery after a bout of weight lifting, all being consistent with there being less muscle damage, and 2) enhances in vivo work capacity and the in situ fatigue resistance of a primary plantarflexor muscle.