Definition: "An ergogenic aid is any substance or phenomenon that enhances performance "
Animal study: strength training without steroids is good for heart and blood vessels
The researchers divided 157 male rats over a number of groups and subjected each group to a different regime for a period of three months.
The experiment lasted 18 months. For the first six months the women did nothing. This enabled the researchers to determine the effect of hormone therapy on inactive women.
Some groups did no training, others had to do strength training every other day, which involved running with an increasingly heavy weight attached to their tail.
The researchers examined a number of factors, including the concentration of 'good' cholesterol, HDL, in the rats' blood. The more HDL you have, the less quickly your arteries fur up and the less likely you are to develop cardiovascular disease in the long run.
Strength training increased the amount of HDL, the Spaniards discovered.
The anabolic steroid nandrolone-decanoate on the other hand had a negative effect on HDL levels. It almost halved it.
The figure below shows the interaction between strength training and nandrolone use. In the rats that were not given nandrolone-decanoate their HDL level rose steeply. In the rats in the nandrolone group the positive effect was nowhere to be seen. There was actually a small decrease in HDL levels.
The researchers also looked at the effect of a high-protein diet, and at the effects on other indicators of cardiovascular health. After analysing all the data, the Spanish researchers concluded that doping-free strength training probably improves cardiovascular health – but not if strength athletes use anabolic steroids.