Is it Time to put down the Horse Needle?


by Mike Arnold

Due to the pharmacokinetic limitations of many AAS, the “injection” has been a fundamental aspect of steroid use for over 80 years, going all the way back to our first synthesized steroid, testosterone. However, it didn’t take long for researchers to begin looking for an alternative method of administration, one which would yield a higher rate of patient compliance. This led to the invention of methylation; a process which allowed AAS to pass through the digestive system intact, but this delivery method carried with it undesirable side effects. More so, the act of methylating a steroid alters its molecular structure, turning it into a different drug with its own unique effect profile. At this point, science has yet to uncover a method of administration capable of delivering a un-methylated steroid into the body without damaging its molecular identity and/or retaining a high degree of efficacy.

Some might argue that transdermal delivery systems have overcome this shortcoming, but as has been shown, they are not only unreliable (less than 100% success rate), but are often horribly inefficient, allowing only a small percentage (in most cases) of the steroid to pass through the skin barrier and into the bloodstream. While this might suffice for those receiving testosterone replacement therapy, the large dosages used by bodybuilders and strength athletes disqualifies transdermal delivery as a suitable option. In short, this means that injections are here to stay, at least for the foreseeable future.

Every now and then, steroid users have been guilty of carrying on traditions which are not only unnecessary, but potentially problematic. When it comes to injections, nowhere is this more apparent than syringe selection. For decades, a 21-22 gauge syringe was the most commonly used syringe size, with most individuals staying within this range for all their steroid needs. Initially, this was done out of necessity, as the prescription oils of the day, and especially suspension products (ex. test suspension, stanozolol, etc), required these larger gauge sizes.

As we moved into the beginning of the UGL-era, advancements in steroid carriers (thinner oils), allowed most steroid products to fit through a 25 g. syringe or even smaller. These days, most UGL products, including many prescription oils, can fit through 29-31 g. needle, otherwise known as an insulin syringe. Yet, most people still continue to use 21-25 gauge pins. Why? Some people have been misled into thinking that insulin pins aren’t long enough to use for AAS injections. In the case of 5/16th inch needles, this is true, but when it comes to ½ inch needles, that is plenty long enough when injecting into areas where little subcutaneous fat is present. Quads, delts, traps, arms, and calves are all good examples, while a bodypart like glutes should generally be avoided due to excess fat in the area. Of course, having a reasonably low bodyfat percentage is a prerequisite for using a ½ inch insulin syringe.

Another concern some users have when injecting at ½ inch depth is the appearance of lumps. This is easily avoided by keeping injection volume within acceptable limits and utilizing proper injection technique, which brings me to my next point. One of the first questions most individuals have when considering the use of a slin pin is “how much oil can I inject into a single injection site?” While insulin syringes are only capable of holding 1 ml per syringe, the ability to back-load allow us to inject more than 1 ml at a time. Still, I don’t recommend going beyond 2 ml’s, as it increases the likelihood of developing lumps and /or leakage.

Yes, the oil will be closer to the surface than when using a traditional 1 inch pin, but there is no set rule which says the oil must be 1 inch deep. So long as the oil is deposited sufficiently within the muscle and injection volumes are reasonable, the issue of depth isn’t really an issue at all. Still, when using insulin syringes, you need to make sure the needle has been fully inserted and preferably, the skin surface should be slightly dimpled, ensuring that the oil is at least ½ inch deep.

Some steroid users have complained about the amount of time it takes to administer larger oil volumes when using insulin syringes. No doubt, it doesn’t take nearly as long to inject 3 ml’s of oil when using a standard 25 g. syringe. With a 25 g. you are one and done, while a slin pin would need to be injected once, then back-loaded while still in the muscle and injected again, then back-loaded again and injected into a new site, so that oil volume isn’t too high at a single injection site. Although I won’t dismiss the time factor outright, I do find it to be relatively insignificant when weighing the pros vs. the cons. Yes, it will take you about 5 minutes with a slin pin compared to about 1-2 minutes with a 25 g., but is saving a few extra minutes worth it?

Before we move onto the benefits of using insulin pins, I want to go back for a minute and address the issue of back-loading. Most people define back-loading as the process of filling a syringe from behind. The most common reason for back-loading is to preserve the needle’s integrity (keep the needle sharp), which is essential when using insulin syringes, as they dull very easily. But when using slin pins, back-loading is also used as a way of avoiding unnecessary injections. Let’s say you need to inject 2 ml’s of oil, but with slin pins only holding a maximum of 1 ml, two separate injections would be required…unless you back-load.

Allow me to walk you through a 2 ml injection. Begin by drawing out 2 ml’s of oil into a standard 21 g. syringe. Regardless of whether you are injecting 2 ml’s of a single steroid or 1 ml of two different steroids, it doesn’t matter, as all steroids can be mixed in the same syringe. After filling your 21 g. syringe, take the plunger out of a ½ slin pin and set it down on a sterile surface. Then, fill the insulin pin from behind with the pre-loaded 21 g. syringe and gently place the plunger back in the slin pin without squirting out any of the oil. You will get the hang of this after a few tries. You are now ready for your injection. Depress the needle fully into the skin, aspirate, then inject the oil, but do not remove the needle from the body when you are done. Remove only the plunger, while the needle remains fully inserted in the muscle. Now, back-load the slin pin with the final 1 ml of oil and then put the plunger back in. You are now ready for your 2nd injection. After you are done, you will have used an insulin syringe to inject 2 ml’s of oil into a single injection site.

The primary benefit associated with using insulin syringes is decreased scar tissue build-up. For long-term steroid users, scar tissue build-up can become a real problem. Some of the negative effects of excessive scar tissue include increased risk of injury during training, more painful injections, delayed steroid release rates, and even impaired muscle growth, as scar tissue doesn’t respond to the training stimulus the same as healthy tissue. For those of you who tend to inject into the same 1-2 areas all the time, scar tissue will become an issue more quickly.

Insulin syringes (29-31 g.), due to their small size, are far less invasive than traditional injections, casing only a small fraction as much scar tissue build-up per injection. I would go so far as to say it is less than 1/10th as injurious to muscle tissue. So, not only will scar tissue accumulate at a significantly slower rate, but those who have used insulin syringes will tell you it is a far more pleasant experience. When I first began, 21 g. 1.5 inch pins were the norm. While I grew accustomed to using these syringes, I did not like them in the least. I often hit nerves and occasionally a patch of scar tissue, which would make a type of “squeaking” sound as it passed through it. I would sometimes have to remove the needle after it was already half-way in me because it would hit up against something painful, and far as injecting into areas like the arms, calves, or quads, you could forget about it.

After transitioning over to slin pins, it was like night and day. Even if you don’t mind injecting with those larger gauge syringes, you should still consider the other negative effects attached to their use. Aside from the typical issues associated with scar tissue build-up (listed above), I have seen cases where more serious problems were encountered, such as nerve damage leading to muscular atrophy, especially in those who perform excessive site injections into specific bodyparts. All of these potential risks are vastly reduced when using insulin syringes.

Other benefits of insulin syringes include decreased cost and increased availability. For example, Wal-Mart, which has 1,000’s of locations in the continental United States alone, offers insulin syringes to the general public without a prescription, at a cost of about $12 per box (#100 count). With traditional syringes, if you are not one of the few who are able to just walk into your local pharmacy and buy them, you are forced to use online distributers for all your purchases. Not only do you usually end up waiting days or even weeks to receive your order, but you end up paying several times as much per syringe. In contrast, Wal-Mart s easily accessible to just about everyone, many of their locations are open 24/7, and they cost only a fraction as much. Did I mention there are no shipping charges either?

Many steroid users today, especially when using short-estered AAS, inject their gear as frequently as every other day to daily. In no branch of the medical field would it be considered appropriate to perform large gauge injections of this magnitude for years on end. This is precisely why insulin syringes were developed, to assist diabetics, those who do have to inject their medications on a regular basis over the long-term. As steroid users, we are no different and in reality, we have even more of a reason to be concerned with potential problems. Unlike diabetics, who administer their injections sub-q, steroid users inject their drugs intramuscularly, which causes far greater soft-tissue injury. Even with long-estered gear, the injection frequency is still high enough to cause extensive scar tissue build-up over one’s drug using life-time.

If you have never used slin pins before, I urge you to give them a shot. The overwhelming majority of people I know who have done so never went back to their old-school horse needles. For those of you who think the few extra minutes of injection time is a deal breaker, then there is not much else I can say to convince you, but for everyone else, ask yourself what good reason you have for sticking with the out-dated, over-sized syringes of yesteryear.