I love an article I just read by Ron Harris in the August 2015 Performance Press Magazine. It is about NOT NEEDING DRUGS to improve. Is this true?
Even Bikini and Figure have been saturated with drug use. Not just of steroids, but a cocktail that includes T3, Clen, Anavar, GH and more. These are all hard drugs that can really take a toll on health. T3 alone regulates thyroid function, which also regulates your blood pressure and heart rate. Clenbuterol is great for fat loss and can be the ultimate fat burner, but this can also effect your blood pressure and heart, Anavar and other steroids can cause your private parts to change in unfavorable ways, your voice and create what is called “mush mouth” a change in your jawline and facial features. GH has been said to include the risk of the growth of unknown tumors or other things within the body outside of muscle growth. Do you really want to wind up with a change to your beauty and features. Do enough steroids overtime and you are not going to wind up looking to pretty in the face.
So why are so many females now eager to take something just to win their shows without thinking about the serious consequences involved. The sooner they start the likelyhood of continuing is strong longer term. These effects long term have changed beautiful female faces and physiques in many unfavorable ways. You can see many competitors before and after photos. The photos tell a story of drug use. The body and face dry out and when we dry our bodies out again and again, we are accelerating not just muscle growth, but aging. This direction will weather a competitor and quickly.
According to one head judge national and pro level judge, “Bikini girls should have flat abs and no six packs!” Coaches, like myself, hear this and take it literally. We do what we can to coach accordingly. Then we put our girls in shows only to find they are going for much harder looks with six packs. Bikini was once said to be, “a girl who looks like she has curves, but does not ever walk into the gym.” This was according to a high level NPC/IFBB official. Regardless of what was once the criteria, we are seeing it evolve and change. The interpretation seems to be the need to take something to meet the expectation. I have had numerous girls come to me wanting to start something before they have even done the work. They have been told to do well this is what you need to be taking and that other girls are. It has never been so prevalent on the amateur levels as we are now seeing on the local levels. Judges should be able to tell the difference especially if they have seen the athlete compete on the same stage over time, shouldn’t they? That’s hard to judge.
What the athlete needs to know is that with muscle growth, especially with bikini, if the muscles come in too big from steroid use and heavy weight training, they risk looking too big for the part. Bikini girls have long lean muscles and low body fat, but not so lean you see striations. They need to look tight and full. Much of this is very achievable and why the sport attracts so many. It’s a look most can relate to. The same way a girl may revert to drug use to achieve this look, they could take their time and do things right to achieve it without it. It’s very possible and should be the chosen path. This keeps it healthy!
Unfortunately, drug use now has invaded the sport even on the bikini level. What you need to know if you want to compete in figure or bikini is that achieving this look naturally is possible.  To lose fat you need time, to gain muscle you need time. The issue is the need for instant gratification vs putting in the time and hard work it takes to get there. If you truly enjoy weight training and this is not just about being center stage, you will get there and optimize your personal genetics with the right coaching and direction. Hiring a coach for 6 months may seem like a financial burden, but if that coach has time to build your body before you lean out you have a much better chance of competing against the girls who are using other things. You will also have done it naturally and will be able to maintain your look well once you get off stage. The person using is going to lose all their hard work quickly once the drugs wear off. They will need them to sustain the look they achieved through this method. The natural competitor will have a look that will not resolve in bloating, weight gain, hormonal imbalances and multiple other side effects that the drug user will have to contend with.
Steroid use can cause an unstable person to become even more unstable. Many people who are willing to cross the line are not stable to begin with. If they are manic depressive/bipolar, deeply insecure or have an eating disorder, you can only imagine how drug use will intensify all of this. Testosterone us eis also now being seen in the arena of figure and bikini. Did you not see the Ads about how this also can effect your heart if men use it? Men can use it for better performance in the bedroom, gym and for muscular gains, but now without consequences. The advertisements describe all the possible issues if you take it and how the body will stop manufacturing it’s own Testosterone.  Imagine taking 3 things at at time all playing with your heart health. Now that’s just plain dangerous and doesn’t say a lot about how much you value your own life or maybe you had no idea because you never looked up the consequences. I hope you will now and think seriously about the risks before you get in too deep. Overtime, athletes in this sport tend to keep adding things on since the original brew stops working.  I know it’s tempting and at times we can make bad decisions, but there is always time to change your mind about them and get yourself straight.
Drug use of any form can cause chemical imbalances and often results in dependencies. Not only that, you risk impairing your liver, having heart damage and long term side effects where the body is going haywire according to your blood work and have no idea what is going on. What is going on is you introduced unnatural substances to your body and your body naturally is going to do a lot to try to regain it’s composure and homeostasis. Your body will always try to find it’s way back to it’s natural balance, but now your cells and your brain is firing every which way because it doesn’t know which way to go.
Is winning a show worth it? You have to ask yourself why is this worth the risk for me to set myself up for a long cycle of use to maintain this look long term. Aside from the addiction to the look that you achieve that you struggle with achieving naturally. You will come off the drugs hoping to stop and do this without them, but psychologically you will get frustrated and go back to the need to get that instant gratification with them. This goes on all the time with bodybuilders and well after the sport.
Without them you may feel your physique doesn’t measure up. It’s a post show syndrome many get even without drugs. We gain a little weight and have a more realistic look, but it’s not good enough. So we find a way to not have to diet or train as hard to make it all happen once again. There is a chance you will return to using them because you have not used your natural resources to achieve them. This makes your effort easier and there is an addiction to going back to what worked and gave us the results quicker. Many of the coaches are making money on your knowing they are introducing this cycle of addiction to you. They too are addicted and you can see the bodybuilding coaches who are clearly not natural or doing it naturally on their own either. This is not rocket science.
A good coach should have you on a program long before your show. If you want to do well in a highly competitive sport and don’t want to get into the drug cycle than be realistic about the time it will take. You must be willing to put the time in the off season when most of the prep is done muscularly. You may not even find using fat burners are needed or a ton of supplements. Most people who are young enough can use their natural internal resources with food and proper training to achieve a lot!  You also must understand that 12 weeks is a good amount of time to lean out, but if you lack shape and muscular development this will cost you tone and shape. So you may go in too lean looking and lacking the curves. Many coaches, like myself, get competitors who want to skip this part of the process. But, if you want to get on stage and it’s more about that for you rather than your love of weight training. Do a pageant or a bar bikini contest.
This sport may not be for you if you lack patience or don’t love to train the way the sport demands. If you don’t like cardio and plyos and love to train heavy than bikini will not be a fit for you, unless you are very skinny and need to train heavy and eliminate cardio. You have to love a small, tight, full physique or choose a different division. It’s all about knowing how to diet and train for the sport and where a seasoned coach comes in. You want one who can give you that solid direction without giving you how to cheat from the start or you never really will understand the process and what the sport is all about.
This sport comes with inconsistent rewards at times even for the best athletes.  If you are inconsistent in some way with your prep from one show to the next and you are not on point, you may take for granted what the judges see and know about your water levels, shaping or even posing. Your ability to relax on stage and show off your best lines versus just go through the motion up there can make or break you. You can be the best and at the top your first show and at the bottom the next. You have to understand the why’s! And it’s not because of steroid use that makes a winning athlete.
Presentation, balance, genetics and a great overall look determine most of it! Maybe the first show you did was lacking talent. A great win for you, but against how many and who showed up? The next show may be a real competition with a lot more talent to contend with. So rather than be quick to find a short cut, look at what you need to do to improve and get the feedback. I have rarely heard a judge tell a competitor in bikini or figure you need more size all over your body in a way that justifies the need to use drugs. They usually give you some tweaks. It’s the competitor that goes wild about the one little thing they say thinking they need to go to some extreme measure to change, when really its a TWEAK!!! ONLY A TWEAK here and there. And many tweaks are easy to do naturally.
Team Knockouts in all of the photo in this post all were drug free when on this team. We have had overall champions, won every class in entire shows, got pro cards & placed in the top at nationals
It takes time to shape the body whether you are male or female. As a masters, you lack much of the growth hormone your body once had so in this case, it will be much harder for you to develop your physique without the support of of a good coach and supplementation program. This doesn’t have to be anything alternative, you just have to be sure your elasticity is going to cooperate and that your collagen levels are not weak and low. You have to be able to still grow muscle. The older you are the harder this becomes. You want to be sure your age and your bodies natural ability is okay. You can have bloodwork done to ensure your hormones are in the right place with the right muscle building internal tools needed. Before taking testosterone, GH, etc. have your body checked out and get that blood work so you know where your levels are at. Even for fat loss. You don’t want to go around in vicious circles if you already have a hormonal imbalance. This is going to make matters worse. Get your cortisol and thyroid levels checked out. Make sure you don’t have too much estrogen in your body. Check it out so these things will not hinder your outcome.
You have to be realistic if competing makes sense to what you body can do naturally at this point. Miracles can still happen, but nutrition and how you exercise may differ from the younger athletes. You have to respect that your body is in a different place. Competing against women in Masters can involve a lot more drug use even since muscularity on this level is much harder to achieve for most naturally. But, again, our masters athletes have killed it on stage without having to rely on steroids. Wouldn’t you like to at least try to do your best naturally first before making serious decisions. At an older age the health risks become even greater. If you also have any underlying mental or physical issues already going on than drug use is a very bad idea!Each person it differs. There is no one program or set way of doing something. It’s all about where you are in the process and what your efforts are like.
Many people really never do the diet and training the way they should. They are diverted by:
1) Their own ability to follow through with directions and take matters into their own hands out of boredom or thinking they know what is best
2) They are swayed by the many opinions of all the other so called “experts” out there. Some that have nothing to do with the sport even, but think they know MACRO or CALORIE COUNTING, so well. They really don’t have a grasp on the cycling, timing or art science with the food and exercise behind bodybuilding methods. 
With consideration of each athlete and where they are at when they decide to do this sport. A few things need to be considered. When is the show they want to do and is it even realistic for them to achieve it with where their physique is at in the given moment. If you are starting from a place where you have high body fat and are lack shaping you have work to do in the area of developing your muscular body. If you have low body fat, a lot can be done in a shorter period of time, but only if your shape is there. If it is not, it will take you the same amount of time if not more to gain muscle. Muscle maturation takes time. Tone alone takes about 6 weeks on average to see. This is when the muscle is starting to change enough that you can visibly see it. You will only be able to see it with lower body fat. The lower the body fat is the more you see. The lower the water levels are the more visible the details and cuts get. If you have higher body fat your muscle may be under the fat, so you need to focus more on fat reduction. These two approaches would be very different.
High Bodyfat & Muscle Underneath – you need to add in more cardio time and focus more on high reps and low weight to get the body fat down. Your goal is to maintain the muscle mass underneath overall. When leaning out, it is natural to lose some muscle so building it well ahead is important.
Low Bodyfat & Lacking Shaping or Muscle – this would be your typical mass gaining approach. This person could  spend a good amount of time 6 months to a year on shaping methods. Muscle maturation takes time. The longer you body build for the greater gains you have over time. That’s why many peak the 2nd or 3rd year in the sport of figure and bikini. For more muscular divisions you are looking at even more time to reach peaks.
Some may even have to lose some muscle mass in their legs for instance and create more upper body balance. In order to do some corrective work, again you are looking at time! Training for symmetry and balance when an athlete has imbalances is an art and it may mean not training some body parts and training others. If you throw steroids into this mix before fixing the imbalances this could be a recipe for failure.
Low body fat and a Nice Muscular Baseline – now you could possibly get into a show if your shape meets the criteria for the division you want to do – bikini (more of a lower body sport) and Figure (more of an upper body focused sport) This is where genetics can determine which division is best for you. If you have nice back width, arms and shoulders tend to gain easily, you may have a great shot at figure. But, if you lack that upper body strength and you have a less athletic, but more curvy physique, bikini is right for you!
What you don’t want to do is buy into needing to take drugs to succeed in the sport of bikini or figure. This is simply not true!  What we are all witnessing now is sad because it’s a lot of showmanship that the public buys into as natural development. Some competitors no matter how hard they work don’t understand why they are not reaching the same levels with their physique and as quickly. They have not been schooled yet.  They feel as if there is something wrong with their program and coaching .With Facebook LIKES validating these girls, the cycle of drug abuse gets stronger. This becomes their identity. The dark side is they are officially sucked into the drug world of the sport of bodybuilding and are being LIKED for it. In the meantime, they are accelerating their aging process, weakening their immune system and internal organs just to do a sport that they may NEVER, no matter how hard they work, go very far in. Very few achieve pro cards considering how many compete every year. Very few can get past nationals! You may put years in before you reach the pinnacle of the sport or you just may never reach it. You have to do this sport as I said before because you love training, bodybuilding, you love to see the natural changes your physique can make with food and training alone. You have to thrive on doing your personal best and competing with all the rest. If you are the small percentage that makes it to the top remember it gets harder and more competitive. This doesn’t always mean grow more, train heavier, sometimes this means taking more time off and recovering so you don’t go in too massive in a feminine sport. Try to keep it real and make your health a priority especially if you do want that longevity not just in the sport but in your life!
Very few escape the use of drugs without understanding these five things first:
1) It becomes a gateway to other drugs
2) It causes side effects that can be serious
3) It’s addictive because they are addicted to the look and can’t get out of the cycle of using the drugs once they start
4) It doesn’t guarantee success on stage.
5) The use of drugs can cause inconsistent results due to the chemicals and substances the body tolerates differently at different times
Cheating is not a result of a good coach or program. Team Knockouts since the beginning have been rewarded time and time again without the use of any drugs. I want to stress strongly that we continue to have the highest level competitors naturally. I educate the girls to understand the risks involved. Each person has to make decisions for themselves, but what is motivating these decisions should be considered. When you are not in a winning place it’s easy to make losing decisions.
Many who start off on this note will never reach their natural FULL POTENTIAL. Be a true bodybuilder rather than go for being the best drug cocktail on stage.
Here is an article on www.bodybuilding.com that talks about NATURAL WAYS to grow muscle. 

If you want to join a team that will take you to the top without having to risk your health email michelle@michellefitness.com and join www.team-knockouts.com today! I know the best path is always the natural one. No matter what division you sign up with there is a lot you can do without having to rush to take things that can put your health at risk. Take your time and do things right to avoid the temptation of using short cuts. You will be rewarded for your hard work and dedication!