One of the most significant side effects of anabolic steroid use is inhibition of natural testosterone production. There is no way to entirely avoid the problem, but there are ways to minimize the problem and recover natural testosterone levels reasonably quickly after a cycle. In this article, we will look at the problem of inhibition, its causes, and the best solutions currently known.
The Causes of Inhibition
Elevated hormone levels, in general, will cause inhibition of natural testosterone production. Many bodybuilders have come to believe that elevated estrogen levels alone are the sole cause of inhibition, and believe that by blocking estrogen, they can block inhibition.
This is not true. For example, consider the results seen in the second 2-on / 4-off cycle case study, where Jim used 50 mg/day of Trenbolone acetate, which does not aromatize, 50 mg/day of Dianabol, which does aromatize, an aromatase inhibitor and 50 mg/day Clomid as an estrogen receptor blocker. His estrogen levels remained in the normal range, though elevated from baseline, since apparently the aromatase inhibitor was not sufficient to block aromatization completely. The Clomid should easily have been able to overcome normal estrogen levels, and so if the estrogen-only theory of inhibition were correct, Jim should have been suffering no inhibition. But the fact is, his testosterone levels dropped to only 1/10 his baseline value. Estrogen alone was not the cause of his inhibition. It could not have been the cause of any of it, given the normal levels and the Clomid use.
So much for the estrogen-only theory of inhibition that has been claimed by other writers. That isn’t to say, though, that estrogen is not also inhibitory: it is.
What then besides estrogen can cause inhibition? DHT, which does not aromatize, has been extensively shown to cause inhibition of testosterone production. Androgen alone, then, is sufficient to cause inhibition. In Jim’s case, androgen use was moderately heavy, and androgen alone would seem the cause of the inhibition.
Progesterone is another hormone that can cause inhibition, when used long-term. Paradoxically, in the short term it can be stimulatory. Other relevant factors include beta agonists, opiates, melatonin, prolactin, and probably other compounds. With the exception of beta agonists (e.g. ephedrine and Clenbuterol) and opiates (natural endorphins on the one hand being inhibitory) manipulation of these would not seem useful in bodybuilding.
The Hypothalamic/Pituitary/Testicular Axis (HPTA)
To understand inhibition of testosterone production, we need to know first how it is produced and how production is controlled. The broad general picture is that the hypothalamus receives a variety of inputs, for example, levels of various hormones, and decides whether or not more sex hormones should be produced. If the inputs are high, for example, high estrogen or high androgen or both, then it decides that little or no sex hormones should now be produced, but if all inputs are low, then it may decide that more sex hormones should be produced. It seems that the hypothalamus doesn’t respond only to current hormone levels, but also to the past history of hormone levels.
The hypothalamus itself cannot produce any sex hormones – instead it produces LHRH, or luteinizing hormone (LH) releasing hormone, also called GnRH (gonadotropin releasing hormone.) This then stimulates the pituitary gland.
The pituitary uses the amount of LHRH as one of its signals in deciding how much LH it should produce. Proper response depends on having sufficient receptors for LHRH. These receptors must be activated for LH to be produced. The pituitary also uses sex hormone levels, both current and the past history, in deciding how much LH to produce. Some aspects of the pituitary’s behavior are peculiar. For example, too much LHRH results in the pituitary downregulating LHRH receptors, with the result that very high LHRH production, which one would think should result in high testosterone production, actually lowers testosterone production. Another oddity is that while high estrogen levels inhibit the pituitary, still some estrogen is required to maintain a high number of LHRH receptors. So both very low and high levels of estrogen can inhibit LH production.
LH produced by the pituitary then stimulates the testicles to produce testosterone. Here, the amount of LH is the main factor, and high levels of sex hormones do not seem to cause inhibition at this level.
Inhibition from anabolic steroids cycles
Because high androgen levels sustained around the clock will cause inhibition, traditional cycles simply cannot avoid inhibition of LH production while on cycle. There are three ways to avoid it:
Avoid having high androgen levels around the clock. This can be done, for example, by using oral anabolic steroids only in the morning, with the last dose being approximately at noontime. Even 100 mg/day Dianabol can be used in this fashion with little inhibition. The problem with this approach is that gains are not very good compared to what is seen when high androgen levels are sustained around the clock.
Use an amount and kind of anabolic steroids that is low enough to avoid much inhibition. Primobolan at 200-400 mg/week may achieve this effect. Again, gains will be compromised compared to a more substantial cycle. Testosterone esters and Deca are substantially inhibitory even at 100 mg/week so using a low dose of these drugs will simply result in both inhibition and poor gains.
In principle, one could use an antiandrogen, but this would totally defeat the purpose of the cycle.
Where anabolic steroid doses are sufficient for good gains, an interesting pattern is seen. For the first two weeks of the cycle, only the hypothalamus is inhibited, and it produces much less LHRH as a result of the high levels of sex hormones it senses. The pituitary is not inhibited at all: in fact, it is actually sensitized, and will respond to LHRH (if any is provided) even moreso than normally. After two weeks however, the pituitary also becomes inhibited, and even if LHRH is provided, the pituitary will produce little or no LH. This then is a deeper type of inhibition. After this point, there seems to be no definite further “switching point” where inhibition again becomes deeper and harder to reverse. As a general rule, I would say that there seems to be little difference between using anabolic strerois for 3 weeks vs. 8 weeks: recovery is about the same either way. Between 8 and 12 weeks, it becomes more and more likely that recovery will be difficult and slow, though even at 12 weeks it is common for recovery to not be too problematic, taking only a few weeks. Cycles past 12 weeks seem much more likely to cause substantial problems with recovery. In the hundreds of consultations I have done for people with recovery problems, very few (I can recall two) were for very short cycles such as 6 weeks, while most were for usages of 12 weeks straight or more.
Drugs of Use With Regard to Inhibition
Arimidex: This drug can be used to reduce conversion of testosterone, but without the possible side effects like some lethargy (feeling of tiredness and laziness, or sleepiness) It is however far more expensive. A typical dose is 1 mg./day. The timing of the dosage does not matter, since the drug has a long half-life.
Clomid: After a cycle is over, Clomid at 50 mg/day is usually very effective in restoring natural testosterone production. It acts by blocking estrogen receptors at the hypothalamus and pituitary. If androgen levels are not elevated, this is enough to cause production of at least normal amounts of LH, or often more LH than normal. During the cycle Clomid cannot prevent inhibition, though some think using it during the cycle will allow a faster recovery afterwards. That is not proven though. If nothing else, though, it is useful as an antigyno/antibloating agent during the cycle.
Nolvadex: This works in the same manner as Clomid, but not nearly so well with regard to reversing inhibition. It is better to use this only as an anti-gyno/antibloating agent, if at all. If Clomid is used, there is no need for Nolvadex.
HCG: This does nothing with regard to inhibition of the hypothalamus and pituitary. Rather it acts like LH, and causes the testicles to produce testosterone just as if LH were present. It is useful then for avoiding testicular atrophy during the cycle. The best dosing method is to use small amounts frequently: 500 IU per day is sufficient, and 1000 IU may optionally be used. The amount may be given as a single daily dose or divided into two doses. Administration may be intramuscular or subcutaneous. More is not better: too much HCG can result in downregulation of the LH receptors in the testes, and is therefore counterproductive. Overdosing of HCG can also result in gynecomastia.
Ephedrine/Clenbuterol: It is possible that the beta agonist activities of these drugs may assist in recovery. Personally, I do recommend the use of ephedrine post-cycle to those who can use it. Clenbuterol has the same effect but acts around the clock, having a longer half life, and allowing a higher effective dose (amount times potency) due to having less relative effect on beta receptors in the heart. I am not sure that clenbuterol has any better effect with regard to recovery though.
Oral anabolic steroids: These do not assist recovery of natural testosterone production, but if used only in the morning, can help sustain muscle mass while in the recovery phase, with little or no adverse effect on recovery.
Pharmaceutical drugs should of course not be self-prescribed: the following are simply recommendations of what works well, not of what to do without physician’s advice. Enough said.
The best cycle plans are either brief two week cycles with short acting drugs, which allow a very fast recovery (less than one week) or cycle of approximately 6-10 weeks, which usually allow reasonable recovery and allow quite a bit of time to make gains. Cycles in the 3-5 week range are less efficient because they combine the disadvantage of relatively little time gaining with the disadvantage of slower recovery.
If a cycle lasts 8 weeks or longer, I think it is best to use HCG during the cycle if possible, as described above. HCG should not be used during the recovery itself since it will increase androgen and estrogen levels, which will be inhibitory to the hypothalamus and pituitary.
Clomid use should begin, if it was not used during the cycle, as soon as androgen levels drop enough that recovery becomes possible. This would be about two weeks after the last injection of long acting steroid esters, assuming reasonable doses such as 500 mg/week. Clomid use should start with 300 mg on the first day (50 mg six times) to quickly get blood levels as high as needed, and then maintained with 50 mg/day. This is needed because of the half-life of the drug. It should be continued until one is sure that natural testosterone production is back and testicle size is returned to normal, with the exception that if use has been more than about 6 weeks, one might try dropping it for a few weeks to see what happens. If no further improvement occurs, then Clomid would be resumed. It has been studied medically for long-term use and found safe for periods of at least a year. However, a small percentage of users develop vision problems from Clomid, which are generally reversible upon discontinuing the drug. So if you have this problem, certainly the drug should be discontinued.
If aromatizable injectables were used, an antiaromatase would be useful for 3 weeks or so after the last injection, or 4 weeks if dosage was high (a gram per week or more.)
Lastly, ephedrine seems to be of some help. The same dose as used for dieting (e.g. 25 mg three times per day) seems quite sufficient.
Long term inhibition can potentially be a serious side-effect of anabolic steroids use, and this risk should be minimized by avoiding excessively long cycles. This really does not compromise gains greatly, since the body cannot grow rapidly week in, week out, 52 weeks per year anyway. And even moderate post-cycle inhibition is something we wish to minimize, since it is frustrating to lose much of one’s gains in the first few weeks after a cycle as a result of low natural testosterone and no anabolic steroids being used. The advice given above is generally successful in minimizing such losses, and I hope you will find it useful.
Body is an amazing machine. It can adapt to a variety of stimuli, effectively getting stronger, faster, bigger, and more conditioned depending on how it’s trained. Much of this adaptation, however, depends on the efficiency with which your body produces and uses energy, namely adenosine triphosphate (ATP). ATP is a high-energy molecule which powers nearly everything you do, including exercise. There are three energy systems that produce ATP. Your body uses these energy systems to generate more ATP for different training types, intensities, and lengths. These are the phosphocreatine, glycolitic, and oxidative system. The phosphocreatine system is utilized during high-powered activity of short duration. The glycolytic system is utilized when the phosphocreatine system runs out. As the name suggests, the glycolytic system utilizes stored glycogen to create ATP. This system engages during moderate-intensity activity of moderate duration. The aerobic, or oxidative, system is slower to provide energy, but its supply is almost limitless. We use our oxidative system for low-intensity, long-duration activity.
Part of being a good athlete is being able to do more work for a longer duration. In order for the body to become a more-efficient machine, we have to train it. That’s where these energy systems come into play. The stronger and more powerful your aerobic and glycolytic systems are, the more work you’ll be able to do, the longer you’ll be able to do it, and the quicker you’ll be able to recover.
Here are five ways to train your energy systems and boost your overall results!
CARDIAC OUTPUT - is used to improve aerobic capacity, or your body’s ability to produce energy using oxygen. Specifically, this type of training improves the central factor necessary for the aerobic energy system to function optimally: the ability to transport oxygen. By training in a low-intensity zone of 130-150 beats per minute (bpm), the heart is allowed to maximally fill with blood during each beat. As a result, eccentric cardiac hypertrophy can occur. In other words, the size of the heart chambers will increase, thus allowing more blood (and oxygen) to be delivered to the rest of the body with each beat. Consistent cardiac output training will result in a lower resting heart rate, lower working heart rate, and greater cardiac efficiency. In addition, because of the heart’s ability to better deliver oxygen throughout the body, your aerobic system will be better utilized at every level of training intensity. The more you can rely on your aerobic system to supply energy, the less you’ll feel fatigue and the better you’ll be able to recover. To train your cardiac output, you’ll have to spend extensive time in that target heart rate zone of 130-150 bpm. Begin with 30 minutes of work 2-4 times per week and increase the volume at a rate of 10 percent per week. You can either do steady-state exercise—I prefer incline walking—or you can do tempo intervals with bodyweight, light implements, or running. Tempo intervals work best when you work at 80 percent effort for 15-20 seconds and then actively rest for 40-45 seconds. The whole point of doing this, though, is to make sure that your heart rate stays in that target range of 130-150 beats per minute. So, the activity type is not that important as long as your heart rate is in the correct range. Cardio output training can occur 1-5 times per week, depending on your fitness level and training regimen.
CARDIAC POWER At the tissue level, training cardiac power will increase the strength and contractile abilities of the heart muscles, which will further improve oxygen delivery. Training this system will also improve your body’s utilization of oxygen to produce energy within the working muscles. In other words, you’ll improve your ability to use the aerobic energy system at higher rates of exertion. Cardiac power intervals involve one- or two-minute work intervals at maximal, sustainable effort. Your heart rate should only reach maximum at the last half or third of the work portion of an interval. Rest periods can be 2-5 minutes, or as long as it takes for your heart rate to get below 120 bpm before the next set. Begin with 4-6 sets of intervals and increase volume conservatively each week. Utilize running or full-body cardio equipment to perform these intervals. Do 1-3 sessions of cardiac power intervals or lactate threshold intervals per week, depending on your fitness level and training regimen.
ALACTIC-AEROBIC INTERVALS - Alactic-aerobic training is designed to improve your endurance during intense activities. The mitochondria of your cells are the aerobic energy factories in the body. To achieve the above effect, you need to increase their density in your fast-twitch muscle fibers. Increasing mitochondria density will not only increase your body’s ability to sustain high-intensity activity for a long time, but also your ability to recover from those activities. Your increased ability to sustain high-intensity training means you’ll have better strength-training sessions because your fast-twitch muscle fibers can perform more work. To recruit those fast-twitch muscle fibers, do 6-12-second bursts of maximum intensity activity like stair sprints or sled work. Rest 40-60 seconds, or as long as it takes to bring the heart rate back down below 140 bpm. Be sure to remain below that lactate threshold or else your work stops being aerobic. Begin with 14-16 sets and add volume conservatively each week. Do 1-6 sessions per week, depending on your fitness level and training regimen.
LACTATE THRESHOLD INTERVALS The goal of this training is described in the name. Lactate threshold training increases the threshold, or intensity, at which the body turns energy production over to its fatigue-inducing energy system—the lactate or glycolytic system. By training at an intensity at or near—within 5 bpm—the lactate threshold, the body is forced to adapt to produce energy at its maximal aerobic rate. This increases the maximal sustainable power output of the aerobic system and increases the size of the umbrella of intensity under which any activity will then be predominantly fueled by the aerobic system. If your body is better at using its aerobic system, you’ll be able to do moderate-intensity activities without having to use the glycolytic energy system for fuel. The oxidative system offers a nearly endless supply of energy, which means you won’t fatigue as easily if you can use it during tough exercise. The greater one’s lactate threshold, the greater the contribution the aerobic system can make to high-intensity activities.
In order to increase your lactate threshold, you have to train slightly above it. Run or bike for 4-6 minutes at a high intensity and then rest for 3-5 minutes. Do these intervals for 2-3 sets. The length of each work period can be increased conservatively each week. Do 1-3 sessions of lactate threshold or cardiac power intervals per week, depending on your fitness level and training regimen.
LACTATE POWER AND CAPACITY INTERVALS - Until now, I’ve primarily discussed ways to increase your aerobic capacity. But, it’s also important to increase how long you can stay in the glycolytic energy system and increase the rate of exertion while you use that system. During really intense exercise, you want to stay in your glycolytic phase as long as possible so you don’t have to tap into your reserve stores of energy. The glycolytic system can produce a lot of ATP in a short amount of time, but it’s not sustainable in the long duration. To train lactate power and capacity—and increase the rate and power at which the lactate system can be used to generate energy—you need to produce a lot of work in a short amount of time. Training in this energy system requires your metabolism to remain high for a long period after exercise, which translates to better fat-loss results for your physique goals. However, this form of training is extremely taxing on the body. A high volume of lactate power training, or a lack of recovery from it, can easily lead to overreaching or overtraining. Also, because the glycolytic energy system is the quickest to adapt and actually has the least potential for change, it is best not to continuously train this system throughout the year. Training your lactate power and capacity requires maximum sustained intensity lasting 20 seconds to 2 minutes. High-intensity, full-body activities like compound lifts are ideal for this type of training. Because work periods are so difficult, rest periods should be at least twice as long as the work periods. If you don’t take a longer break, the quality of your effort will decrease and you won’t achieve the adaptations to optimal levels. It’s best to begin by doing something like sled pushes for intervals of 30 seconds of work followed by one minute of rest. Do this interval twice more and then rest for about 8 minutes. After 8 minutes of rest, perform another series of 3, 30-second sled pushes with one minute of rest between pushes. You can add additional series to these glycolytic training sessions, but don’t do more than four.
Glycolytic training should occur 1-3 times per week, depending on your fitness level and training regimen.
Anavar or Oxandrolone is one of the most popular cutting cycle drugs in the bodybuilding world. It’s generally used to lose weight and body fat quickly and safely. Categorized as a Schedule III (non-narcotic) managed material under the Anabolic Steroids Control Act of 1990, this anabolic androgenic steroid is medically prescribed for treating debilitating health conditions such as osteoporosis, HIV/AIDS related wasting, and improving body weight levels following extensive surgery, chronic infections, or severe trauma.
This steroid is usually used by male athletes in doses of 0.125 mg per kg of bodyweight per day or 20-100 mg per day for men; while female athletes administer this drug in doses of 2.5-20 mg per day. This steroid is often termed as the “Girl steroid” as it doesn’t lead to virilization or development of secondary male sexual characteristics in women. Most athletes prefer stacking Anavar with Halotestin, Proviron, Equipoise, Primobolan, Winstrol, and Human growth hormone. Post cycle therapy is done with Arimidex, Clomid, Nolvadex.
One of the most popular anabolic steroids for losing body fat and weight, Winstrol or Stanozolol (also known as Winny) has a lot less side-effects compared with other drugs with similar chemical origins. Use of this drug is common during cutting cycles to lose body fat and keep a hard look. This steroid also has the potential of dramatically improving nitrogen retention and protein synthesis while strengthening tendons and ligaments. Winstrol is interesting because of its ability to improve percentage of free testosterone circulating in the body that tends to enhance the potency of concurrently used anabolic steroids. Because of its anabolic nature and very few androgenic side effects, Winstrol is a popular drug among female athletes. This weight loss drug is ideally used by men in doses of 25-100mg every day while female athletes prefer using this drug in daily doses of 5-15mg.
Anavar Versus Winstrol
Anavar and Winstrol are both cutting cycle drugs that are used to lose body fat and cut down on weight. However, Anavar shows better ability to increase strength than Winstrol while Winny is superior to Anavar when it comes to adding lean muscle mass. One of the biggest drawbacks associated with Winstrol is that it can be hard on joints while Anavar is more costly, gram for gram, when compared to Winstrol.
Anavar scores over Winstrol due to the fact that use of this steroid does not lead to virilization or aromatization. This amazing characteristic makes it ideal to be used by men and women, especially those prone to estrogenic side effects like oily skin, acne, gynecomastia, or male pattern baldness. Some athletes believe Winstrol is a better option than Anavar as Winny leads to more muscle hardening. Moreover, physical appearance and body strength gains made with Winstrol are believed to be far better than those made with Anavar. In addition, Anavar can lead to bad pumps on cardio. But, Winstrol can lead to negative effects on cholesterol, joints, and hair line.
Winstrol is the brand name of the oral steroid Stanozolol. This anabolic steroid is approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and is used by bodybuilders to increase strength and muscle building capabilities. The synthetic drug is created from testosterone, and is commonly used with other steroids in a weight training program. This drug has been shown to treat diseases such as anemia and hereditary angioedema in humans, and can promote muscle growth in animals. Take Winstrol under the direction of a physician.
Another very often asked question is: “how should I eat and lift when on cycle”
The answer is that your diet and training should be about the same on or off with some minor tweaks. What I mean is that you should already have a good plan in place for diet and training…if not you shouldn’t be doing gear.
I will go over each in more detail below.
Training on steroid cylce
The only differences should be that you can work out longer because you will recover faster between sets, you will be able to lift heavier because of the increased strength, your workouts can be more intense from increased agression, and you can do it more often because of improved recovery. I can easily do 2 a day workouts on gear but my training is pretty similar to my training otherwise, I just condense the timeline and increase the volume.
Instead of working a muscle group once every six days you can now do it once every 3 days. If you were doing full body training 3 times a week you can now do it 6 times a week. Overtraining is a lot harder to do on gear but you need to make sure you are eating and sleeping enough that the gear can do it’s job.
This seems to really help bodybuilding type programs when you are doing a crap load of sets. It will also help a powerlifting program where you are doing heavy compound movements because you will recover better between sets and have more explosive power. Whether you’re doing West Side, German Volume Training, or Full Body, or whatever the important thing is that you really focus in the gym (even the best program sucks if you don’t put your best effort into it). Whatever you are doing it will work as long as you are doing it properly. Add weight, add reps, add sets and you get stronger because that is the body’s only choice. Whatever you do - do it balls to the wall and you will see results.
The only word of caution is to not drop below the 4 rep mark for sets that you can perform with good form. I have heard of many a guy on juice tear a biceps or fuck up a disk or something because he was being a hero and going for 1 rep PRs. There is a strong desire to do so because you are so much stronger you will want to know what your “geared PR” is but resist the urge, it’s masterbation for your ego. The only exception would be if you are a powerlifter or someone that is used to training in the very low rep range all the time (ie your ligaments have adapted to that type of training over a long period of time).
The problem is that your muscles are rapidly getting stronger because of the gear but your ligaments are not…this is especially true with drugs like Deca Durabolin, Trenbolone, and Winstrol that add a lot of strength very fast without giving the body time to adjust. Some drugs will also give a false sense of security because the joints feel great (well lubricated and loose) or actually help repair old injuries (Deca is good for this because of it’s effect on cartilage which was covered earlier) but this doesn’t mean they are indistructable so use your judgement. You will make very good gains sticking to the 4-12 rep range…work with that.
Diet depends on your goals but basically:
For bulking or gaining you should be taking in at least 1,000 extra calories a day and upping your protein intake so that you are getting a MINIMUM of 1gm/lb of body weight (many pros recommend upwards of 2gm/lb), that’s a lot of protein but it is needed to really see results. I think eating clean is still a good idea but it is crutial to eat enough to grow. A lot of people who have trouble gaining don’t eat enough. If this is a problem without gear it will be a problem when on the gear. Figure out what you need and make sure you have an idea of what that actually entails in terms of a daily food breakdown. Plan out your meals and see what the total Protein, Fat, and Carb breakdown is. It is often much less than you think it is.
The flip side for dieting is that you can also get away with eating less and not losing muscle mass like you would naturally. This means cutting at least 500cals/d while still maintaining the minimum 1gm/lb of bodyweight for protein. Make sure you are getting healthy fats so that you can absorb all the necessary fat soluble vitamins and if you are restricting carbs make sure you have some in your system while training and right after so that you have energy to train and you are replenishing glycogen stores after.
The same general rules apply for eating - 5-7 small meals throughout the day. Don’t go hungry or go to sleep on an empty stomach. eat slow digesting foods like protein, healthy fats, and whole grains. don’t eat crap (fast food, fried stuff, processed grains, sweets) you can gain weight without this stuff (or very little of it if you are very lean naturally), the guys that say you need to eat like that on gear are usually either taking so much gear that they could eat scrap metal and gain or are big fat guys or both.
Typical “clean foods” are:
You should really already know how to gain or cut naturally before trying to do so on gear because it may take you some time to figure your body out. All the gear will do is make the results better. This site is a wealth of info on bulking and cutting so use the search function and come up with something that works for you and then figure out a cycle that complements it.
Shorties seem to be favoured by 2 groups of people.
1. Slow and Steady Gainers
These are people who are already in good shape (not looking for radical body recomposition or huge mass gain) and want to just help facilitate steady gains. They may be people who need to “fly under the radar” for one reason or another or may be quite happy with simply making small steady gains. By doing a series of 2-3 week cycles with 3-4 weeks off in between steady gains will keep coming, albeit slowly, but steadily. By restricting the cycle to 2-3 weeks the negative health impact is very minimal but most importantly the suppression of endogenous FSH/LH/Test is pretty minimal (unless very high doses or 19Nors are used) so recovery is very fast and gains are maintained.
2. Blitz cycles
This is a strategy sometimes employed by experienced users and isn’t so different from Blast cycles. It is basically 2 weeks of all out high dose androgen use, often accompanied by HGH, IGF-1, Insulin, and T3. The strategy is to overtrain to the point that you have actually depressed your endogenous test levels and upregulated your androgen receptors, then blast your system with very high dose androgens while lifting like a maniac for a period that is too brief to cause much testicular shutdown but long enough to cause hypertrophy and more importantly hyperplasia. Basically you are shocking your system into a very brief but rapid period of growth which can be built upon after the cycle is over.
The overall design of both is very similar as are the pros and cons.
1. Minimal Shutdown
Because the duration of use is so short there is very little suppression of natural test production. The testes usually only start to shrink after about 2-3 weeks into the cycle so if you clear the androgens at that time there is no waiting period for them to return to normal size. LH and FSH levels bounce back very quickly and in many cases actually have a rebound above normal such that endogenous test levels climb above normal for a few weeks and the user continues to see gains after androgens have been discontinued.
2. Limiting Side Effects
With such a short cycle negative sides don’t have very much time to manifest. BP may be elevated but for such a short period that it isn’t a big concern. Gyno may be an issue at higher doses but can be treaded easily with Nolva until the compounds clear. Liver tox is really only a concern with longer cycles so even very high doses of orals have little impact. Male Pattern Baldness (MPB) and Benign Prostate Hypertrophy (BPH) are really not a concern unless the undividual is planning to do many 2-3 week cycles per year. Acne and other skin issues seem to start around 2 weeks in for most individuals as well so the short duration tends to make them less of a factor as well.
3. Gradual Gains
This is important for anyone who needs to keep their androgen use somewhat under wraps. Some people due to their jobs or family situation simply can’t gain 20lbs without a certain risk of having questions asked. 20lbs over the course of a year is a lot different that 20lbs over the course of 6 weeks. If it is noticed it can be attributed to consistent training and diet.
4. Consistent focus
If the user is running a series of short cycles with little to no supression there are smaller swings in weight, mood, strength, diet, and consistency. I think this is one of the biggest strengths of a cycle plan like this. Because there is slow but consistent gains the focus of the individual stays consistent. Consistent training, eating, and living year round. There is no big weight gain but there is also no big comedown where a user may feel depressed and lose motivation for a few months and undo all their accomplishments.
1. Limited compound selection
Short esters and orals are really the only option to actually see any benifit and not continue supressing endogenous test after the 2-3 weeks is up.
2. Limited gains
Gains from only 2-3 weeks are small (1-3lbs) and likely mostly water if they are even moderate (5-15lbs). The fact of the matter is that 2-3 weeks is not that long a time; the user doesn’t have a chance to even get in that many workouts unless they are training twice a day. It may be that the user is simply able to break through a weight plateau they couldn’t have otherwise.
Because 2-3 weeks isn’t long enough to cause serious shutdown (for the mopst part) there are a number of short acting injectable and oral options.
Testosterone Propionate is a great choice for 2-3 week cycles for the same reasons as previously stated but in this scenario we are chosing it as the preferred base compound more out of reasons of its effectiveness. It is one of the few compounds that will have much of an effect over that short a period. It is not the only choice though, just a good one. Typical Propionate doses are in the range of 75-300mg/d (with users simply looking for continued gains at the low end and blitz cycles at the high end). Because not everyone can tolerate the high end of the scale Testosterone Propionate doses are often restricted to about 200mg/d and stacked with orals or other injectables for Blitz cycles.
Because their duration is limited to only 2-3 weeks high dose orals can be used (Dianabol, Winstrol, and Anavar, are all fine although Anavar would probably be much better off being run longer).
Dianabol only cycles would be around 50-100mg/d.
Anadrol only cycles would be around 100-200mg/d.
Winstrol would be best stacked with either Dianabol or Anadrol at a dose of about 50-100mg/d.
Anavar only cycles would be around 60-120mg/d but wouldn’t be good for much besides a bit of a boost in breaking through plateaus. Short acting injectables that would work best would be Nandrolone (NPP only) and Mast (prop only), and Trenbolone Acetate but only if used with HCG because it can still cause pretty severe shutdown even after only a few weeks.
Typical NPP dose would be equal to or less than that of the test dose being run with the average in the range of 50-100mg ED. It would probably be pretty worthless run on it’s own but would make a fairly good addition to the test. My only worry with it would be Nandrolone’s ability to become re-esterfied in the body which may hurt recovery when doing a short cycle approach.
Masteron Propionate would be run in the range of about 37-75mg/d. Even at the high end listed many have difficulty with too much tightness in the muscles. It can’t be run in doses high enough to really do that much on its own over just a few weeks but it is a great addition to a short cycle of test to add a bit of strength and hardness.
Trenbolone Acetate is a bit of a wild card in a shorty. On the one hand it is probably the most effective drug in terms of short term results and maybe one of the few drugs that really makes sense for this protocol to be truly successful and on the other hand it is about the most suppressive which defeats the purpose of the protocol (avoiding shutdown in the first place). For this reason the use of maintenance dose HCG (250iu 2x/w) is really the only way it will work. The other problem is that most Trenbolone users report fairly strong sides for the first 5 days or so that they are on the drug to the point that sleep and workouts are impaired…if the cycle is only two weeks long you really can’t sacrifice 5 days of gains so it’s use would also have to be restricted to those individuals that tolerate it well.
Stacking is almost a necessity in the short cycle approach because you are working with the upper limits of tolerance for most drugs and stacking lets you increase the overall level of androgens. Same guidelines still remain for stacking (AR with non-AR mediated or combo or Test/19Nor/DHT) although for reasons discussed 19Nors may not be the best approach for some.
Ancilliary compounds used are the same although their use isn’t as big a concern because the duration is so short.
The use of HGH would have to be high dose to really do anything and preferably combined with IGF-1. 2 weeks is a good timeline for IGF-1 alone so it could be run during the cycle or run during the off weeks. Use of Insulin and T3 is a more hardcore approach but effective if you don’t kill yourself or permenantly damage your thyroid.
Winstrol, or Winny as it is commonly referred to, is an extremely popular anabolic steroid which is available in both oral and injectable forms. The drug itself is infact called Stanozolol (a dihydrotestosterone derivative); with Winstrol being a popular brand name of the drug which most recreational users label the steroid. Winstrol is widely available as an anabolic steroid - being produced by a variety of so-called underground labs. Many labs produce Winstrol in 10mg and 50mg tablets. As mentioned; Winstrol is available in both tablet and injectable formats, with the former being very popular among first time steroid users who prefer to opt for the needleless option. Those embarking on a Winstrol cycle will notice steady, solid gains of muscle tissue, with no water retention witnessed from the use of the drug (unlike when following a Dianabol Cycle).
Winstrol is available as a liquid which can be administered via an Intra-muscular injection, and in tablet form which can be easily swallowed. Unlike oral Dianabol which has a short active life in the body, Winstrol is active to up to two days, and therefore there is no need in splitting your daily dosage of Winstrol to maintain stable blood levels. The daily dose can be consumed in one sitting. It should not make much difference on what time of the day you orally consume the dose, but you may want to take it before a meal to try to avoid any slim chances of stomach upsets.
Oral Winstrol cycles (i.e. those taking the drug via tablet form) would likely opt for a daily oral dose of 40-80mg. Dosages of 50-100mg are common for the injectable format of the steroid. Cycles tend to last 5-6 weeks in duration. Those new to steroid use and/or Winstrol would be best opting for the lower end of the dosage range, with the more experience users maybe opting for the upper end of the dose mentioned, or maybe surpassing it if they should decide to (although the extra benefits of such a dose will quickly diminish and be over-shadowed by the negative hepatotoxic nature of the drug i.e. it is harsh on the liver).
Winstrol is a popular steroid to stack with other anabolic steroids during a cycle. The compounds stacked with the drug will mainly be determined by the goals of the user, although many bodybuilders tend to use Winstrol for cutting phrases (when the goal is to preserve lean muscle tissue whilst reducing body fat). Those looking to build muscle tissue may stack Winstrol with testosterone due to Winstrols ability to heighten the anabolic effects of the cycle whilst also adding no oestrogen side effects to the stack. On the other hand, stacking Winstrol with a drug such as Trenbolone is popular during a cutting phrase where the user can accomplish a very hard and defined appearance whilst reducing bodyfat via cardio and diet. It is worth mentioning that Winstrol is extremely popular with track and field athletes. The drug adds some lean body mass, but is very effective for those who do not wish to add much weight, yet add greater muscle strength and power. It is therefore popular among sprinters, jumpers and throwers.
Of concern to any user of Winstrol during a cycle should be its intoxicating effect on the liver. The drug is a 17aa structured steroid, meaning it has been structured in a way which allows it to be orally bio-available, yet this has the negative effect of making Winstrol potentially harmful to the liver. It is therefore paramount the duration of a Winstrol cycle is limited, the dose of the drug is not excessive, the user does not stack it with other hepatotoxic compounds, does not drink alcoholic whilst on cycle, and does not use Winstrol if they have an underlying medical condition which effects the livers health. There are supplements available which also help protect the liver, and these would be advisable during any Winstrol cycle.
Acne cannot be ruled out whilst using Winstrol, or after its use. Anti-oestrogens are not required during a Winstrol only cycle, as the steroid does not convert to oestrogen - and therefore side effects such as the build up of subcutaneous fluids is of no concern, nor is Gynecomastia (the formation of breast tissue). As with all steroid cycles which have the ability to suppress natural testosterone production, a proper PCT (post cycle Theralpy) is paramount once the Winstrol cycle has ceased.
Regardless of opinions that may have formed in your head, anabolic steroids have played a major role in the competitive arena today, not only of bodybuilding, but many other top tier sports. Many competitors, participating in the heavier weight classes, would be unable to attain the heights they have without anabolic enhancement. So, for many it boils down to the question “how far are you willing to go to achieve the pinnacle of performance?
Let’s be honest here; the fact is you can attain a decent size of musculature and definition without the use of anabolic steroids, but you will be nowhere near what is required for you to compete on the grandest stage. In fact, it becomes necessity, along with upping the ante on diet and training for taking your development to new levels.
To make things even more complicated, many amateur level bodybuilders are now forced to stack anabolic steroids during a cycle, since the gains achieved from a single drug may no longer produce results needed to survive in the big league.
However, talk of anabolic steroids in the public eye is viewed as taboo, as most bodybuilders would admit. Hardly will you ever find an athlete freely discuss his drug regimen, although he freely tells all about his nutritional and exercise plans. Why is this the case? Well, for one, the general public has crucified the use of anabolic steroids to such an extent, that the poor athlete might feel less than human. To make things worse, many persons who have come clean on use of these performance and physique enhancers, have lost credibility in the eyes of the public, since they “cheated” their way to success.
Considering this, you might expect more to be done at the regulatory level to control the use of anabolic steroids. The fact of the matter is though, that many divisions go untested, prompting the use of the drugs. Think of this scenario; there’s that one guy, who always places first in competitions, with shape, size and symmetry beyond what you can gain training for another 10 years. Is he juiced? Most likely. Yet you decide not to use it. The result? You always place where you do, with no salvation of placing beyond hopefully second. But then, two other competitors get wise and begin juicing also. What this means is that those 3 athletes are always going to grab the podium, while other athletes (ignorant of use or otherwise) will be left fuming at the bottom. So, as you can see, quite often initiation of steroid use is as a result of pressure. You are forced to use it if you seriously want to have a shot at gold. Refuse and your bodybuilding days are all but over.
Ok, now comes the hard part; actually making the decision to use your first cycle. Sure, you’ve been performing reasonably well over the past couple years, a couple second and third place finishes but nothing big to talk about. You’ve consistently seen the field of competition growing fiercer by the month, while you remain basically the same. So now comes the dilemma; either stay as you are and fade into oblivion OR use your first cycle and accelerate your progress. If you’re seriously considering making a future bodybuilding, this is probably your best option. In addition, it is MANDATORY that you absolutely as much as you possibly can with regards to every aspect; cycling, dosages and the like. A good simple checklist for considering steroid “readiness” could look something like this;
Last, but certainly not least, is the running of the actual cycle. Many have hypothesized endless cycles in their heads but have failed to take the big step and make it a reality. The basis of running an effective cycle is planning. Without adequate planning you will make subpar gains while on the drugs, and when finally off will lose most of it, as well as have an uphill battle with recovery. That being said, let’s look at a typical effective first cycle
Women athletes certainly do need to take a different approach to anabolic steroid use than males do. There are only a limited number of the drugs listed in this text that a woman would even want to consider. Among those are Primobolan, Proviron, Nolvadex, Nandrolone, Anavar, Winstrol, and synthetic Growth Hormone.
It is important to note that even on the lowest dosages of any of these anabolic steroids, women can start to experience virilizing effects. This is because any amount of anabolic steroid introduced into the woman’s endocrine system is a serious jolt.
Anabolic steroids are synthetic derivatives of male hormones and can cause serious adverse reactions in some women. The most prudent approach to administering anabolic steroids to the female involves the use of low dosages of very low androgenic items. Women obviously do not have to worry about the Gonadotrophic suppression that men do nor do they usually encounter much of a problem with the hepatotoxicity of anabolic steroids. This is because they most often use low dosages of very clean items. Since the most androgenic items tend to be the most toxic to the liver, by avoiding these items women also avoid the liver stress that most men undergo. Women can however benefit from the use of estrogen antagonists. Many women favor the use of Nolvadex and/or Proviron while trying to attain muscularity.
Anabolic steroids have been extremely effective for many women athletes who use them to obtain size, strength and endurance. Since the virilizing effects women suffer from using anabolic steroids tend to be permanent, it is prudent to use caution at all times.
One of the safer ways that I have seen women use anabolic steroids is to stack two low androgenic items for a period less than six weeks and then take several weeks off of the drugs before coming back to another four or five week cycle and then taking a good two months off of the drugs.
With this pattern, women can watch for adverse reactions which usually occur in proportion to the duration of use by the female. The use of Growth Hormone by women has proven to be extremely effective in some cases. Since Growth Hormone is not an androgenic drug, it does not result in any virilizing effects for women. Growth Hormone greatly increases muscularity primarily by reducing body fat stores in the woman while leaving the lean muscle mass unaltered.
This is a group of side effects that are specific to women users. Virilization refers to attaining the characteristics of a mature male. Most often the first sign of this adverse reaction is hoarseness leading to deepness of the voice. This adverse reaction seems to be irreversible as permanent changes in the larynx take place. Clitoral enlargement is another common adverse reaction noticed by women steroid users. The extent to which this will occur depends on the type of steroid and the duration of use.
Facial hair is also a sign of virilization. It too is irreversible and occurs primarily with the use of androgens. Others signs of virilization include, amenorrhea (absence of menstrual periods), and a change in skin texture. Women have cited facial characteristics changing to resemble those of a male. Women have also cited suffering depression and anxiety while using anabolic steroids as well as fever and illness. If any of these signs begin to develop in the female user, she should discontinue the steroid use and reevaluate which items she is using.
Obviously, women are more likely to suffer virilizing effects while using testosterone, Dianabol and other high androgens. Deca is an especially effective steroid for most women but is very borderline; some women can handle the moderate androgens and others cannot. It is felt the safest choices for women users include low dosages of Anavar, Winstrol and Primobolan.
Testosterone esters consist of the actual testosterone molecule, with a carbon chain attached to it. This carbon chain controls something called the partition co-efficient, which basically means how soluble the drug will be once in the bloodstream. Also, the larger the carbon chain, the longer the ester, the less soluble the drug is in water, and the longer the half life. Here is an example. Testosterone propionate is a three carbon chain ester: “c-c-c”. This just means there is three carbons in the chain. As we know the half life of Testosterone Propionate is amongst the shortest of the testosterone esters (compared to enanthate, cypionate, etc). Testosterone Enanthate has eight carbons: “c-c-c-c-c-c-c-c”.
This makes the Enanthate form significantly less soluble in water (acqueous) which slows the drug’s release in the body and bloodstream. This is what directly accounts for the longer half life of Enanthate as compared to propionate. As a side note, the carbons in the ester chain are not straight together but they are attached from one to the next in a specific configuration. If you would like to know more, please see the drug profiles section.
All testosterone esters work in a similar manner with respect to release in the bloodstream. To give you a better physical visual, think of an orange. Lets just say that the orange represents testosterone itslelf, the active form, with no ester attached to it. Now lets say you take a plastic fork, and stab it into the orange. The fork represents one carbon. Lets say we tape two forks to the original fork that is now sticking in the orange. Now there are three “carbons” attached to the orange, or a three carbon ester chain attached to the orange. If the orange represents testosterone, and the forks each represent a carbon in the ester, we have just figuratively created Testosterone Propionate (remember what we said, prop has a three carbon ester attached to it). Follow?
Think of enanthate, visualize the same orange, but now tape eight forks together, and stab the chain of forks into the orange. Eight forks, aka, eight carbon chain, wallah…figuratively we have Testosterone Enanthate.
As a side note, there are two main types of enzymes that act to cleave off the ester and activate the testosterone. Enzymes called esterases come along and cleave peices of the ester off the tesosterone, thereby releasing the active chemical and allowing it to do its job (ultimately muscle building). Another type of enzyme called a hydrolysate which is basically a water breaking enzyme, comes along and aids the breaking of the ester from the testosterone molecule as well. Once the ester is broken from the testosterone molecule, the testosterone molecule becomes active.
The bloodsteam which testosterone and blood born nutrients and substances circulate is often called the “medium”. These enzymes circulate in the medium and directly affect the release of “active” testosterone in the bloodstream by ester cleavage (aka, pulling the fork out of the orange).
As we stated earlier, the length of the ester chain affects the half-life of the drug in the bloodstream. The longer the ester chain, the longer the half-life (in most cases). This can be extremely useful when trying to keep even blood levels of testosterone for optimal muscle growth and tissue recovery. The half-lives of the most common testosterone esters are as follows:
Testosterone Suspension- this drug is pure testosterone in sterilized water. There is no ester attached and the testosterone is biologically active at 100%, upon injection. The
testosterone is suspended in tiny crystals within the aqueous solution which is why the “suspension sting” occurs upon injection. The crystals begin to dissolve very rapidly upon injection (there is no added partition coefficient because there is no ester attached slowing the absortption of the drug). One hundred milligrams (100mg) of testosterone suspension,
is, literally 100mg of active drug. The half-life of the drug is from 12-36 hours depending on the state of your metabolism and the prescense of other drugs (more on this later).
Testosterone Propionate- this is also one of the most popular testosterone esters around and has the shortest available ester chain available in an injectable testosterone product. We have previously stated that the Testosterone Propionate chain of prop is three carbons long. The ester is taken from propionic acid, which is an acid that has the potential to irritate the injected muscle. Often Testosterone Propionate is used for site injection due to the fact that it causes an intense localized swelling of the injection site in most users. The reason prop stings is due to the short ester chain. Generally, the shorter the ester, the more irritation to the muscle. For example, bee venom, is C1, prop is C3 (three carbon chain). Make sense right? The half-life of Testosterone Propionate is on the order of 48-72 hours, or two to three days. The disadvantage to using shorter chain esters is the need to inject more frequently and the general pain from the injections. Advantages include a quicker onset of action, and more immediate effects.
An interesting side note is that the smaller ester chains, weigh less. This is important because it brings another advantage of shorter chain ester drugs to the table. If the Testosterone Propionate weighs less, the amount of testosterone per milliliter or cubic centimeter (cc, they are interchangeable) is more. For example, testosterone suspension is 100% testosterone as we have said previously. It has no ester. The short chain ester propionate, is roughly 74% testosterone. This means that if you take a typical 1cc shot of prop at 100mg/cc, this is actually 74mg of testosterone and 26 milligrams of ester weight. A larger ester such as enanthate, is roughly 55% testosterone. Twenty-eight (45%) percent of the gross weight of a given amount of Testosterone Propionate is the actual enanthate ester, not the active testosterone that you are searching for. So, a typical 200mg/cc shot of enanthate only contains 110mg of active testosterone. If you have ever used a shorter acting injectable anabolic, and gotten better results than using heavier dosages of longer acting drugs, this is the reason. You may have been getting more “active” drug into your system with what appeared to be less “overall” or gross mg dosage of drug.
A great illustration of the above point is evident when comparing the “active” amount of testosterone yield in equal “mg” dosages of these two testosterone esters. Think of the 110mg/200mg injection of enanthate. The 74mg/100mg injection of propionate would yield more active testosterone if you were to take “200mg) of the drug. This would yield 148mg of testosterone from the propionate!! Do you see? So, 200mg of propionate is more “active” test than 200mg of enanthate.
Yet another factor to consider is that you have more drug interacting with receptors at a given time with shorter acting drugs. It is essential to understand drug half life if you are to get the most “bang for your buck” from anabolics. With respect to your health and longevity, this is also of paramount importance. Why take more, if less works just as well. As we will
explore, sometimes, less works even better.
Testosterone Enanthate- enth for short is one of the most readily available testosterones on the market. Even those without significant connections can usually find some enth. The half life of enth as many of my buddies call it, ranges in the literature between 4-7 days. For our purposes, it is fair to figure a little under a week’s time. Testosterone enanthate is not known to cause extreme irritation at injection sites and is a good staple drug to build quality mass with if you are not overly susceptible to estrogenic affects. Testosterone Enanthate is
a good cheap drug that can fulfill the androgenic component of a cycle many times over. If you want a high and consistent blood level of testosterone and don’t want to constantly poke yourself, Testosterone Enanthate is a quality choice. One poke every four to five days is a good frequency to maintain blood levels. Whatever amount you choose to do will be fine on this schedule, i.e. it will maintain the blood level well because you are taking another dosage before the hal-life has a chance to cut the blood level back down.
Keep in mind that using enanthate this way will cause a significant build up of testosterone in the bloodstream that will not cease to increase until four or five weeks of injections. This is due to the fact that taking a four hundred milligram injection, and another four days later, still has at least 200mg working from the previous dose. The third injection then adds
another four hundred and the first is still not entirely used up. You may realistically have over a gram or so in the bloodstream before you know it. Just be careful, and keep this in mind when figuring out your dosages.
Testosterone Cypionate- Testosterone Cypionate or Cyp is closely interchangeable with Enanthate. They differ by one carbon chain length which does not significantly affect the duration of action of these drugs. Cypionate has one more carbon in the ester chain attachment than does enanthate, so technically, equal dosages of enanthate or cypionate will yield a slightly higher amount of testosterone from the enanthate ester.
There are many possible chemical combinations of testosterone. Scientists can do amazing things. The above esters are the most common drug esters used in our community of drug enhancement.
This is just the enanthate ester, without the testosterone molecule. This is the plain testosterone molecule: