Written by By William Llewellyn
03 December 2009

 

The quest to bring up a lagging body part has to be one of the oldest and most common in the sport of bodybuilding. Rarely is one’s body in such perfect proportions that adding a little to the peaks of the biceps, or some width to the delts, would not be desirable. There is almost always room for improvement. Reliable methods for targeting and improving those muscles that need it most can be extremely valuable tools to have in your arsenal. Over the years, bodybuilders have tinkered with countless pharmaceutical agents in an effort to discover the next big secret to achieving site-specific increases in muscle size. We have seen a lot of trends come and go when it comes to “spot growth,” some of which turned out to be much more effective than others, of course. This month, I’d like to take a look at the topic of site enhancement, discussing some of the more popular methods devised over the years to accomplish this goal.

 

Steroid “Spot Injections”

Probably the most basic approach to localized muscle growth is the use of “spot injections.” This refers to the administration of injectable steroids directly into the weak smaller muscle groups we would like to improve. The hope is that the injections will have an unbalanced effect, causing greater growth in the local tissues in which the drug is deposited.

Although the concept of “spot growth” is a controversial one, we have seen localized alterations in tissue content with the administration of injectable drugs before. Insulin, for example, has been shown to cause a disproportionate increase in local fat mass at sites of repeated injections due to the lipogenic (fat building) nature of this hormone. Human growth hormone, which has lipolytic (fat metabolizing) properties, has likewise been shown to cause a localized loss of fat mass when injections are repeated in a particular site. Provided the drug being administered is active toward the tissues we are injecting it into, we can typically expect some level of disproportionate effect here, given the increased local drug levels.

Many bodybuilders swear by steroid spot injections, while others claim they offer little benefit over just normal injections in the glutes or thighs. Perhaps the disparity has to do with the drug administered. We need to keep in mind that most injectable steroids are not inherently active. The vast majority are esterified with some sort of fatty acid, such as nandrolone decanoate, testosterone cypionate, etc. The fatty acid slows the release of steroid from the site of injection, but in doing so, it also blocks its active 17-beta hydroxyl group (the site of the ester attachment). This means that until testosterone cypionate loses the cypionate, for example, it isn’t going to be able to affect muscle tissue, locally or otherwise.

 Although esterified steroids might still offer some benefit as site enhancement agents, as local levels of free steroid are likely still going to be higher here, they are not ideal steroids to use for this purpose. In my experience, the number of really effective steroids for localized growth is very limited. This list would include only injectable stanozolol suspension, testosterone suspension, and the occasional injectable Dianabol product.

 

Esiclene

Esiclene is an old steroid with unique properties concerning temporary site enhancement. In fact, with the meager two milligrams per milliliter (2mg/ml) concentration of active steroid (formebolone) in this product, it wasn’t very good for anything else. As a muscle building anabolic, it was essentially worthless, in fact. But formebolone is uniquely very irritating to muscle tissue upon injection. Each 2ml-ampoule even used to include 20 milligrams of lidocaine, a local painkiller, to reduce, at least to some extent, the pain associated with administering this drug. But even so, it would still produce measurable soreness.

This would be accompanied by a measurable swelling of the muscle tissue surrounding the site of injection, however. When administered to smaller muscle groups, such as the biceps, triceps, delts or calves, it had a reputation for being an incredible site enhancement agent. Some claimed an inch or more increase in the biceps in only a few days of use. As such, it was said to be a favorite of competitive bodybuilders around the world, until its discontinuance some years back. Its effects lasted only a few days after the last injection was given, but this was enough to cause measurable improvements in the on-stage appearances of many bodybuilders over the years. Since its withdrawal years ago from the drug markets in all countries formerly making this steroid, competitors have been forced to look at other options. No real Esiclene remains on the black market at this time.

 

Synthol

Synthol is perhaps the most controversial product in the “site enhancement” category. Like Esiclene, it’s known more as a cosmetic agent than one capable of imparting true muscle growth. The premise behind Synthol is both simple and ingenious. The product is a simple blend of MCT oils (medium chain triglycerides), with benzyl alcohol added to promote sterility, and lidocaine to reduce injection site pain. Although the product was never overtly marketed as an injectable, that is the understood use for the product among consumers.

Once given this way, the MCT oil forms a slowly metabolizing deposit in the muscle tissue. Whereas the sesame or cottonseed oils used as vehicles in many steroid products will be metabolized in a matter of days, the full breakdown and excretion of the injected MCT oils is believed to be a process that takes months to years. As such, repeated use causes a measurable buildup of a bolus oil deposit in the muscle, stretching it to a measurable degree. This is believed by some to offer a growth promoting effect (stretching muscle fascia and allowing easier expansion and muscle accumulation), but for the most part it is really just an at-home alternative to collagen or silicone injections. 

The controversy has to do with a few things. For one, some are offended that a product can be used to cosmetically enhance a competitor’s muscle to such a measurable and long-lasting degree. There is an air of “fakeness” surrounding the use of this product, causing many to keep their use of Synthol well in the closet. For others, keeping their use of Synthol a secret is an impossibility. These people are often referred to as “Synthol Freaks,” their use of the product blaringly obvious due to the monstrous and totally unnatural appearance of their overly “enhanced” muscles. Some of these guys walk around sporting permanent peaks in their biceps and swelling in their delts that no human being could naturally carry, steroids or otherwise.

 I try to place no judgment on this myself, but for many, Synthol is a very inflammatory issue. Lastly, the theoretical health problems that could be associated with this product are scary. This includes the risk for cardiac embolism if a bolus dose of MCT oil were inadvertently injected (or found its way) into circulation. To date there have been no big stories concerning death from Synthol, however many speculate this is just a matter of time. At the very least, too many safety concerns remain unanswered for me to feel comfortable using it myself. 

 

Nolotil

Nolotil is an old drug with a very new use. Specifically, this is a brand name for the analgesic (pain killing) agent metamizol, first used in this country back in the 1920s. Nolotil was discontinued from the drug markets in both the U.S. and Canada, however, due to the incidence of serious side effects in a small population of its users. Due to the fact that many other safer analgesics, such as opiates, were available, the drug agencies of these countries probably saw no reason to justify its continued sale. That hasn’t stopped bodybuilders in this country who now actively order this drug from pharmacies in other countries where it is still available. Nolotil is desirable right now because it has the peculiar, and quite measurable, ability to temporarily swell the muscle tissue at the site of injection. In this regard, it is very much like Esiclene, however, most users who have tried both claim Nolotil to be both more tolerable and more effective.

Like most drugs used for this purpose, the procedure for using Nolotil involves a series of repeat injections. This usually involves injecting 2.5-5.0 milliliters (1/2 to one 5-ml ampoule) deep into the belly of the muscle, after which a very light workout (a quick pump, really) is then done focusing on that muscle part to get blood flowing and disperse the drug. This is repeated for several days before the event/show in question, which optimizes the overall aggregate effect of the drug.

 Bodybuilders have claimed increases of an inch in the arms in a single day with the use of this compound, more when taken for several days. Like Synthol and Esiclene, Nolotil may produce an uneven “bumpy” look if injected into larger muscle groups, so its use remains restricted to body parts like the biceps, triceps, delts and calves. The main drawback to this agent may be its potential side effects, which have been documented to include shock, kidney failure, sudden high fever, a drastic drop in white blood cell count and death. Although more serious reactions seem to occur in only one in 20,000 patents that have used this drug, they are serious enough when they do occur to at least be concerned when contemplating its non-medical use. For those who don’t mind assuming these risks, Nolotil may indeed turn out to be very worthwhile as a site enhancement agent.