"The heart doesn’t want to be super-human."
- The Anabolic Doc | Thomas O'Connor MD
Beta blockers are most commonly prescribed to block the effects of adrenaline in the body (specifically the heart). For someone who has high blood pressure, an unnaturally fast resting heart rate, or other heart disease, these meds can be lifesavers. For those in the bodybuilding and fitness world, high doses of anabolic compounds often spell trouble for the heart long-term. We’ve lost too many young friends to cardiovascular issues over the years to pretend “it’ll never happen to me”.
If beta blockers are relatively uncontrolled, and they’re amazing for the heart, why isn’t this all over the bodybuilding forums as the latest harm-reduction craze?
Most beta blockers block adrenaline EVERYWHERE in the body. Great for the heart, not-so-great for fat burning, terrible for mental acuity, and in some cases bad for sexual performance! Some musicians use propranolol off-label for this reason alone – i.e., to kill off all physical manifestations of stage-fright (without having to go full-Xanax mode). They can still “feel” most of the excitement in their heads, but nervous shaking and sweating? – all gone. We're not musicians though, so propranolol has limited practicality.
When SARMs hit the market, the bodybuilding world was taken by storm. You can target “just the skeletal muscle”, and leave the brain, balls, and heart alone? This “receptor selectivity” is HUGE, and can be seen in other classes of drugs (e.g. SERMS), and yes, also beta blockers!
Nebivolol: the bodybuilder heart’s best friend.
In doses less than 10mg, Nebivolol is super-selective for cardiac tissue only! That means none of the brain numbing, none of the fat-loss-blocking, and no crippling sexual sides! If anything, sexual performance is actually BOOSTED -- Nebivolol is the ONLY beta blocker that actually induces nitric oxide production. No it's not going to rock your rocket like Viagra, but on-par or better than arginine for sure. Other than that, most people who take Nebivolol don’t "feel" much of anything. The usual clue that the medicine is working is the drop in their blood pressure and resting heart rate measurements.
Contraindications: While Nebivolol will be ideal for many bodybuilders, it isn’t for everyone, and it certainly isn’t a bulletproof replacement for regular cardio and healthy lifestyle. Certain conditions, such as hepatic and renal impairment WILL affect your desired dosage, and some conditions (diabetes) may warrant you skipping this drug completely (do your research first please).
Also of note, if you’re seriously into gear and haven’t done so already, go establish a relationship with a cardiologist and/or electrophysiologist. Getting ultrasound/diagnostic imaging work done EARLY will go a long way in preventing tragedy down the road (It's also nice to have a hot nurse massage your chest with ultrasound gel).
In memory of John Meadows (11 April 1972 - 8 August 2021)