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The Beginner's Guide to Prohormones

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Athletes have long known of prohormones when it comes to increasing their size, strength, endurance or lean muscle mass, as well as improving their recovery time after workouts or competition events.

What is a prohormone? The short - and perhaps unhelpful - answer is that is the "precursor" to a hotmone, which is to say that it has no hormonal effect in its own right, but acts to enhance the strength of already existing hormones in the human body, such as proinsulin and proopiomelanocortin. Typically, prohormones are used to enhance and affect naturally occurring anabolic steroids like testosterone, giving the body's supply a boost. Acting as a precursor, these prohormones undergo an enzymatic process when metabolised and are converted to the full version of the hormone.

Among bodybuilders, prohormones are primarily used to build muscle mass and reduce body fat, with many believing that they are every bit as effective as synthetic anabolic steroids - with great improvements in muscle strength and hypertrophy - but with far less extreme effects and far less potential for the side effects found in steroids, such as hair loss, acne, growth in breast tissue and prostate swelling.

When it comes to prohormones, reports of similar side effects have been rare, and the symptoms have been minimal, since one of the main reasons for the development of side effects lies with the user itself - for instance, if the user has a family history of pattern baldness, then their risk of developing hair loss is increased. When the slim possibility of side effects is weighed against the proven muscle-building effects, most bodybuilders find the decision to use prohormones a worthwhile one.

The optimum method for using prohormones as a bodybuilding supplement is over 4-6 week periods, followed by an oestrogen blocker. Prohormones should be used alongside a protein intake of at least 3g per kg of bodyweight.

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