Viagra and its Impact on Physical Performance

Viagra Left Bedroom and Went into Locker Rooms

A scandal ran high when a bottle of Viagra, disguised as vitamins and hid in the locker, was found at American superstar Roger Clemens. Last year in May, Italian bicycle racer Andrea Molette was suspended from «Giro d’Italia» racing competition after the police has found syringes and Viagra in hiding-place in his car. Not surprisingly, that after these incidents tabloid press had the opportunity to have fun and declare that legions of baseball players, football players, bodybuilders, as well as representatives of Olympic sports, to increase endurance and physical performance, take Viagra. World Anti-Doping Association (WADA) was going to ban Viagra before Beijing Olympics but did not do that, because there was no clear evidence that the drug provides a competitive advantage.

viagraWhat can good erection help within such kind of sport as bodybuilding? This medication improves blood flow. Muscles need a lot of blood to remove waste and deliver energy, oxygen and various hormones. Increased blood flow can accelerate delivery of essential amino acids to muscles, which can help to improve muscle protein synthesis and muscle growth. It seems logical that this drug is able to enhance physical performance, and that bodybuilders can take advantage of it.

In 2006, in Stanford University under Anne Friedlander supervision, a study was conducted, the results of which have caused sildenafil popularity among athletes. Researchers found out that it improves cardiovascular system possibilities during exercise on a stationary bike, under simulated conditions of the altitude of 3900 meters above sea level (but not at sea level). Viagra increases emptying capacity of heart (amount of blood pumped by the heart per minute), stroke volume (amount of blood pumped by the heart per one palpitation) and oxygen saturation (percentage of red blood cells carrying oxygen). Exercise performance on the stationary bike has improved by 15 percent. The drug enhances physical performance during training, reducing blood pressure in lungs, which usually increases at high altitude. However, not all subjects got benefits from this drug. Someone Viagra helped, and someone – didn’t. Several other studies have confirmed Stanford experiment results. It is also proved that it improves exercise performance at people suffering from pulmonary diseases and cardiac insufficiency.

Bodybuilding is an incredibly difficult sport, in which to achieve good results hard work over years is required. Most athletes will do their best to increase muscle mass and to win the competition. It is understandable why they are taking this ED drug: it is not included in any list of banned substances, it is available and has few side effects. The fact that it only worked for some people at an altitude of 4000 meters and did not work at sea level, is simply lost.

Why is Viagra Effective in Bodybuilding?

Viagra (sildenafil) is one of the three drugs approved by FDA to improve erection. Preparations of this type are called PDE-5 inhibitors (phosphodiesterase-5 inhibitors) that also include tadalafil (Cialis) and vardenafil (Levitra). They work by inhibiting PDE-5 enzyme leading to increase in the concentration of a chemical substance called nitric oxide. This contributes to blood flow to the penis and other tissues throughout the body. Blood vessels, smooth and skeletal muscle and thrombocytes in blood in lung tissue contain PDE enzyme or the like. In addition to improving erection, PDE-5 inhibitors lower arterial blood pressure, pulmonary arterial pressure, pulmonary resistance and improve coronary (heart) blood circulation. Long-term application improves endothelial function, which is crucial for blood flow regulation.

The above drugs relieve stress from overloaded with high-pressure heart, which is important for bodybuilders because a significant increase in muscle tension can prevent blood flow to working muscles. Increased blood flow to muscles during exercise can improve their strength, endurance and volume while reducing the load on the heart. They also improve pulmonary blood flow quality of life for patients suffering from pulmonary diseases. These drugs are promising for pulmonary and cardiovascular diseases treatment, which goes beyond mere erection.

To date, none of the studies showed that Viagra increases the physical performance of athletes at sea level. The drug helps people with low blood pressure, which limits oxygen transportation to tissues. For example, some people at high altitude observe substantially increased pulmonary arterial pressure, which prevents oxygen supply in blood from the air. Such a substance reduces pulmonary arterial pressure, improves oxygen consumption and physical performance.

Only a small percentage of high-profile athletes show disbalance between heart and lungs capacity. Their hearts potency, as a rule, exceeds respiratory volume, which causes a mismatch between pulmonary and cardiovascular systems. Viagra can increase lungs capacity by bringing them thus in line with heart capabilities. This gives an athlete a significant competitive advantage.

Lack of physical activity, the diet high in saturated fats and trans fats, simple sugars, and reduced muscle mass decreases insulin receptor ability to regulate carbohydrates, amino acids (building proteins blocks) and fats composition. Sensitivity to insulin adversely affects endothelium – cells lining blood vessels. These cells secrete nitric oxide (NO), which opens up blood vessels in tissues throughout the body. Long-term Viagra use has «training effect» on endothelium, thereby increasing the potential for nitric oxide release. Men suffering from metabolic disorders, observe improved blood flow, but this drug can also stimulate blood flow to muscles in both bodybuilders and physically healthy adults. Viagra does not increase endurance at short-term consumption, but at long-term use, it can give significant benefits to well-trained athletes.

It increases testosterone level, which is an important hormone for gaining muscle mass and increasing strength indicators, as well as aggression – which is extremely important for athletes. Testosterone hormone affects sexual excitement and increases capacity. Middle-aged men who take testosterone supplements increase their sex drive, improve erection, self-confidence and aggressiveness. Italian researchers found out that at erectile dysfunction treatment, using Cialis and Viagra drugs, total and free testosterone level in men increased by 50%. However, it is unclear whether these drugs increase testosterone on their own or it occurs indirectly through increased sexual activity. The frequency of sexual intercourses was greatest in men who took generic Cialis (which is a more long-acting PDE-5 inhibitor), making it a preferred drug for men. Men, who had the highest number of sexual intercourses, have the highest testosterone level.

Factors influencing testosterone level include;

  • mental health;
  • diet;
  • physical and sexual activity.

Men, who frequently have sex, are so much happier and feel more confident than men, who do not. Genitals are like muscles – they work better if to use them, and Viagra can give them a boost. Although we do not know really whether it increases testosterone level in healthy, strong bodybuilders.

The prolonged use can also increase muscle strength and size by running biochemical reactions that increase protein synthesis in cells and prevent their decay. As it was already mentioned, Viagra increases nitric oxide (NO) release out of blood vessels. NO, in its turn, contributes to protein synthesis in muscles, especially when muscle fibers are in tensed or stretched state. In addition, NO induces satellite cells formation that add mass to muscle fibers. To date, none of the studies has shown similar ED drugs ability to display steroids properties, however, based on results of biochemical studies, we can conclude that in fact, they have such properties.

Viagra on WADA Radar

WADA (World Anti-Doping Agency) first drew attention to Viagra after Stanford University carried out a study on greyhounds (they were given the drug to increase running speed). They were interested in whether it can improve physical properties at lower altitudes and provide a competitive advantage in such areas as Denver, Mexico City or Winter OlympicGames location. Sometimes for victory in cycling or cross-country skiing, a few seconds are enough, so the drug that gives even a small advantage can be very significant.

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Currently, WADA is funding a series of studies at Marywood University (Scranton, Pennsylvania) and University of Miami. The purpose of this research is to determine Viagra effect on exercise capacity and its ability to improve physical abilities of athletes at sea level, moderate altitudes and in polluted environments. They also want to know whether the drug has an adverse effect on both men and women. These studies results will determine whether Viagra will be included in the list of prohibited substances or be approved for use.

Can Viagra Make You a Superstar?

Viagra can make you a sexual giant, provided that you are attractive for women, practice good hygiene and have a more or less strong constitution. But if you do not have talent, there is no place in US Olympic team list for you. To date, none of the studies revealed that Viagra improves performance at sea level. However, prolonged use may contribute to muscle growth, protein synthesis and enhance exchange process, sufficient to provide a slight positive effect on endurance and strength. ED drugs may have some side effects, so do not use them without consulting a doctor. It is necessary to spend a lot more research before we can adequately assess these drugs impact on physical performance and athletic performance improvement.