Anabolic steroid cycles are used for one of three purposes. They are:
1. To improve mass and strength.
2. To promote a harder and leaner physique.
3. To improve athletic performance.
It is illegal to use anabolic steroids without a prescription in the U.S. But thanks to the internet, they can be easily bought by anyone. As a result, thousands of athletes and bodybuilders, most of them amateurs have started using anabolic steroids.
The thing is, when used sensibly and properly, anabolic steroids can be safely used. However, no one can guarantee that the use of anabolic steroids is absolutely safe. You can only make their use safer.
First of all, the use of anabolic steroids is not prescribed for enhancing physical performance. In the early phases, there were not many clinical studies on how anabolic steroids effected physical enhancement and performance. In the absence of this data, people developed their own cycles and dosages, usually through trial and error. However, that has now changed and many clinical studies have been conducted in real world conditions, with actual dosages to examine the effect of anabolic steroids on enhancing physique and performance.
Some of these studies have shown that anabolic steroids give the greatest benefit when used in a logical sequence. This sequence is also called a steroid cycle. Body builders and athletes often use the term ‘on-cycle’ to refer to the time when they are taking steroids. The period when they are not taking steroids is called an ‘off-cycle’. The average cycle can last anywhere between six to 12 weeks.
Many individuals also take two or more anabolic steroids at the same time, in a process called stacking . Stacking can cause a massive gain in strength and mass, which a single anabolic steroid cannot deliver. But it is recommended only for advanced steroid users.
While oral steroids are quick-acting and give faster results, they can be toxic if taken for a long time. Therefore, some individuals will take oral steroids for a month and then switch to injectable steroids. Injectable steroids can take some time to show their effect, so people who are looking for quick gains may ‘front load’ or take a larger than normal quantity of the anabolic steroid initially.
In palliative medicine, anabolic steroids are used for treating different diseases and debilitations. But the dosage is usually small and there are no ‘cycles’, unlike when they are used to enhance physique.
Always Keep Your Cycles Short
Long steroid cycles can cause a host of problems. For this reason, a steroid cycle should not go beyond 4 weeks, with the preferred duration being 2 or 3 weeks.
The most important reason why you should keep your steroid cycles short is because of the side effects that are associated with long cycles. For one, there will be a drastic shift in your lipid profile. Your levels of HDL (good cholesterol) will come down while the level of LDL (bad cholesterol) goes up. This can increase the risk of heart disease.
As the steroid cycle progresses, the body’s own production of hormones such as Follicle Stimulating Hormone, Luteinizing Hormone and Testosterone slow down and eventually shut down all together. But there will be a fairly high level of Estrogen (from the aromatization of Testosterone) and a normal level of Cortisone.
There is an enzyme called aromatase, whose main purpose is to catalyze the conversion of Testosterone into Estrogen. The male body needs Estrogen, which plays an important role in the maturation of sperms but too much of it can have negative effects. It can lead to testicular atrophy, low libido, enlarged nipples, muscle mass loss and even potentially fatal health issues such as stroke, hormonal cancers and heart attack.
Cortisone, an anti-stress hormone has a catabolic effect on muscle mass but it is usually suppressed by Testosterone. When adequate amounts of Testosterone are not present, Cortisone has a free hand and it starts liquidating the muscle mass that you may have developed through the use of a synthetic anabolic steroid.
The longer your steroid cycle, longer will be the time it will take for your body to renew its production of natural Testosterone. One of the side effects of long term steroid use is an atrophication of the Leydig cells of the testes. When the steroid cycle ceases, the Leydig cells are not able to restart the production of Testosterone immediately because at this point they are desensitized to the effect of the gonodotrophins.
Eventually they will respond and the body will kick start its production of Testosterone but not before you have been through a lot of discomfort. This is the reason why post-cycle therapy is an absolute must after the end of a cycle.
Go for the Lowest Effective Dose
Lower the dose of the anabolic steroids you take, lower your chance of developing side effects. But you would not want the dose to be so low, that you are not seeing the results you want. This is where the minimum effective dose comes in. A minimum effective dose can be defined as the lowest possible dose that will give you the desired effect.
When they are on a cycle, most individuals intensify their training. Their frequency of training also increases compared to their off-cycle. They are also more likely to follow a good diet. All these factors are also responsible for their gain in mass.
Anabolic steroids certainly play a part, but exercise and proper diet are also important. Inexperienced anabolic steroid users will erroneously assume that the steroids are wholly responsible for their gains and so will increase their intake to get more results. This is not the way to go about it.
First make progress with a small dose, grow into it and then increase it by the barest minimum to improve results. You may have to take the minimum dose for a few cycles at least. Many first time users of anabolic steroids will straightaway start with 500mg per week dose, increase it to 700mg the second week, to 1000mg the third and so on. This is not necessary and it is very unhealthy.
Note that the average production of Testosterone in the body of a normal male is about 50-70mg per week. A 500mg dose will be 10 times the normal value. Some professional body builders have become so insensitive to the effects of Testosterone that they are able to take more than 4000mg of Testosterone every week (when they are preparing for competitions), without showing major side effects. Even 300mg per week is not a bad start for a first time anabolic steroid user.
Do Not Stack More than Two Anabolic Steroids at One Time Unless Necessary
Unless you are a professional body builder or an athlete, there is really no reason for you to stack more than two anabolic steroids in a cycle. When the number of anabolic steroids you take increases, the stress on your organs also increases. The side effects will also become more severe.
First Time Users Are Better Off with Injectable Anabolic Steroids
If you want to use anabolic steroids, as far as possible, use injectable ones. Oral anabolic steroids can exhibit hepatotoxicity if you take them in large and consistent doses. Oral anabolic steroids are alkylated (at the methyl group attached to the 17th carbon). Alkylation gives the anabolic steroid molecules more resistance to hepatic metabolism. But the downside is, the more a substance resists action by the liver, the more strain the liver undergoes.
Through alkylation, a higher percentage of the anabolic steroid survives metabolism by the liver and is subsequently introduced into the bloodstream. This is the reason orally injested anabolic steroids show faster and better results. The toxicity of an oral anabolic steroid depends on the anabolic steroid (some are more toxic than others), how much you take of it (dosage) and for how long (cycle length).
Most of the well known injectable anabolic steroids are not alkylated and are not so stressful on the liver. Consider using an aromatase inhibitor. Aromatase inhibitors prevent androgens from being converted into Estrogen. Note that careless use of an aromatase inhibitor might lead to a drop in the level of HDL cholesterol (the good cholesterol).
The level of fat in your body should be below 20% before you start a steroid cycle. If you take anabolic steroids when you have a high level of body fat, you may see Estrogenic side effects like gynecomastia.
Adipose tissue is a store house of aromatase enzyme. When the Testosterone level in the blood increases beyond normal levels, the body starts converting the excess Testosterone into Estrogen with the help of the aromatase enzyme.
What Dosage of an Anabolic Steroid Should You Take on Each Cycle?
The dosage is very important and it will determine the benefits you receive. To see gains you will have to take a large dose (a substantial improvement over a therapeutic dose). Below the therapeutic dose, the body may suppress the endogenous Testosterone. A 100mg dose of Testosterone Cypionate or Enanthate in a week is considered a therapeutic dose. But if the dosage is increased to 250 or 500mg per week, it will start supporting muscle growth.
A Typical First Time Steroid Cycle
From week 1 to 12- Testosterone Cypionate or Enanthate (250-500mg every week).
From week 13 to 15- No anabolic steroids. This is an off period to allow the Testosterone to clear from your body.
From week 16 to 17- Nolvadex (Tamoxifen) 40mg every day.
From week 18 to 19- Nolvadex (Tamoxifen) 20mg every day.
The Three Types of Steroid Cycles
Bulk Mass Gain Cycles
These steroid cycles are basically for adding mass. It is difficult to retain the gains you make on these cycles because the bulk that is formed is mainly retained water. First time users will usually start with bulk cycles. These cycles are also cheaper to start and you can run them for shorter durations.
If you want to burn fat and give your physique a defined look, then this cycle is for you. The advantage of a cutting cycle is that, with the proper workout regime and diet, you can maintain most of the physical gains you make on your cycle. Cutting cycles will not help you if you are looking to add , but the muscle produced will be better in quality than the ones you might have achieved on a bulk gain cycle. These cycles are more expensive to sustain and the costs will depend on the steroid products that you use.
Leak-bulk cycles are longer cycles, and consist of both cutting and bulk-gain cutting steroids. These cycles usually include cutting steroids like Equipoise and bulk steroids like Dianabol. Lean bulk cycles can last as long as 16 weeks. They are also quite expensive to run, though it depends on the steroids that you are planning to use. These cycles are used by more experienced users. If a body builder wants go through just one or two cycles in a year only, he may opt for the leak-bulk cycle.
Long term cycle
Cycle time – 12 weeks
Testosterone Enanthate- 100mg every week.
Trenbolone Enanthate- 800mg every week.
Masteron- 400mg every week
Short term cycle
Cycle time – four weeks
Testosterone Propionate- 1050mg every week (150mg every day)
Trenbolone Acetate- 1050mg every week (150mg every day)
Anavar- 100mg every day.
Some Two-Steroid Stacks
Testosterone and Trenbolone
One individual reportedly improved his mass from 185 pounds (11% body fat) to 208 pound (8% body fat), even after not training for 4 weeks and following an inadequate diet. The gains from this stack are comparable to the gains from other stacks. Common doses are 240mg to 500mg of Testosterone and 300mg to 700mg of Trenbolone. Benefits are an increase in muscle mass, lowering of body fat and low fluid retention.
Methandrostenolone (Dianabol) and Trenbolone
This stack is known for its ‘pump’ effect. The ‘pump’ has a physiological explanation. Anabolic steroids have the effect of increasing the production of RBCs. When an individual is on a steroid cycle, the volume of blood in his body increases. This leads to an improvement in the oxygen carrying capacity of the blood, increasing the endurance and efficiency of skeletal muscles. Common doses are 105mg to 350mg per week of Methandrostenolone and 300mg to 700mg per week of Trenbolone.
Stanozolol (Winstrol) and Trenbolone
While the Stanozolol and Trenbolone stack does not produce a rapid improvement in lean body mass, it does give significant gains. Go for this stack if your main goal is to reduce fat mass. There is very little fluid retention. Common doses are 350mg to 700mg per week of Stanozolol and 300mg to 700mg of Trenbolone.
Stanozolol and Oxymethalone (Anadrol)
The Stanozolol and Oxymethalone stack is popular among those want to see quick gains in strength and a rapid increase in weight. One major side effect of this stack is edema. Common doses are 350mg to 700mg per week of Stanozolol and the same for Oxymethalone.
Methandrostenolone and Deca (Nandrolone Decanoate)
The Methandrostenolone and Deca stack is one of the most popular stack for increasing mass. But most people have been dissatisfied with the strength gains. Common doses range from 105mg to 350mg of Methandrostenolone and 400mg to 1000mg of Deca. Nandrolone Decanoate or Deca is a well known steroid. Even who do not know much about anabolic steroids may have heard of Deca.
Methandrostenolone and Testosterone
The Methandrostenolone (Dianabol) and Testosterone stack is nearly as famous as the Deca and Dianabol stack, though there have been cases where gynecomastia and edema have been reported. The problem is, there are not many people who know how to use aromatase inhibitors and anti-Estrogens when they are using such stacks. Common doses are 105mg to 350mg of Methandrostenolone and 500mg to 2000mg of Testosterone a week.
Stanozolol and Testosterone
The Stanozolol and Testosterone stack is not very popular. It may be because it does not give the ‘pump’ effect that steroid users experience when they use Dianabol. Common doses are 350mg to 700mg of Stanozolol and 500mg to 2000mg of Testosterone.
Testosterone Standalone Cycle
Testosterone standalone cycles are quite popular, both with newbies and advanced steroid users. Doses vary between 500mg to 2000mg per week. Individuals have noted considerable gains in muscle mass, along with an increase in their sex drives. Fat mass may also decrease. The effects are not as pronounced as the gains from the Testosterone and Trenbolone stack. Strength gains are significant, though a Trenbolone only cycle can give better gains.
Trenbolone Standalone Cycle
If you are looking for strength gains from a standalone cycle, then you should go for a Trenbolone-only cycle. Notably, gains in lean body mass were moderate. Fat mass can reduce significantly. Many people have reported that they noticed a decrease in their sex drives after going on a Trenbolone-only cycle, which took some time to return even after Trenbolone use was discontinued.
Oxymethalone Standalone Cycle
The main benefit of this cycle is that your lean body mass will see a significant gain. On the other hand, fat will only slightly decrease. Edema and gynecomastia are two commonly noticed side effects. Dosage varies between 350 to 700mg per week.
Methandrostenolone Standalone Cycle
The mass gains from Methandrostenolone cycles can be compared to that from Oxymethalone cycles. The strength gains however, are low. Edema is not an issue but some people have complained about gynecomastia. Doses vary between 350mg to 700mg per week.
Stanozolol Standalone Cycle
Lean body mass gains from Stanozolol-only cycles are moderate. On the other hand, the reduction in fat is significant. Edema is not a problem in this cycle. Doses vary between 350mg to 1500mg. At high doses, impressive reductions in fat mass can be seen, along with strength gains.
Methenolone Standalone Cycle
Lean body mass will see a substantial improvement, while the loss of fat is only moderate. Doses vary between 600mg to 2000mg per week. Water retention is not an issue here. If you are looking for a pump up effect, do not expect it from this cycle.
Oxandrolone Standalone Cycle
This cycle will lead to a significant loss of fat. Lean body mass will only see a slight increase. You do not have to worry about water retention, if you run this cycle. The pump up effect is one of the lowest you will get from all standalone steroid cycles. Doses vary between 100mg to 700mg per week.
Halotestin Standalone Cycle
Lean body mass will see a moderate improvement in a Halotestin or Fluoxymesterone-only cycle. Fat reduction is also moderate. But strength gains see a noteworthy improvement. Doses vary from 100mg to 500mg per week.