In This Article
I receive regular emails from our website visitors, whether to ask a question or request more information about anabolic steroids or something I’ve written. While I love getting feedback, some of the messages that come in leave me worried and concerned! Specifically, emails from guys with no experience with steroids and who are considering trying it for the first time with no idea of the basics of steroids and their use.
First, off the bat, let me say this: So many guys should NOT even be thinking about using steroids at all (yet). But I’ll talk more about this below… Most of the messages and comments I receive or see online revolve around:
- “Which steroids do you recommend starting with, and what dose?“
- “I want fast results, and I’d rather use orals because I’m not ready to start injecting.“
Hold on! Nothing about risks. Nothing about diet. And nothing about your age, current weight, and past training experience. It’s like a broken record trying to explain the basics to some guys who don’t know what they’re getting into.
Since I do get a lot of questions and feedback from newbies that worries me (and that’s not an insult to anyone new to steroids because we’ve all been there!), I thought it was time to put together an ultimate guide to anabolic steroids. A guide that covers everything you need to know about these seriously unique but hugely influential and potentially harmful performance compounds. I’ll cover just about everything here. So read it all, and take notes if you have to!
OK, let’s get right into it!
Anabolic Steroids: What are They?
There are all sorts of different steroids. The category that we are most interested in contains those which are known as anabolic-androgenic steroids (AAS).
Anabolic steroids are synthetic versions of steroid hormones like testosterone. Modified synthetic steroids can change the properties of these hormones, such as their androgenic and anabolic effects.
Synthetic anabolic steroids are based on the three primary steroid hormones:
With only tiny changes to the chemical structure of either of those hormones, significant changes to their effects can be made. Some are modified to increase the anabolic rating while decreasing the androgenic properties.
Unmodified Testosterone itself is used as the basis for comparing all anabolic steroids and their anabolic and androgenic activity. How does that work?
Testosterone comes with a simple anabolic-androgenic ratio of 100:100. This means it has equal anabolic and androgenic strength. Dianabol, on the other hand, is one of the most well-known testosterone-derived steroids. As a result of a small modification to its chemical structure, Dianabol becomes a very different steroid to use compared with Testosterone.
Although we associate anabolic steroids with bodybuilding, that’s not why they were initially created. Anabolic-androgenic steroids have long been researched and used for human medical purposes, for the treatment of conditions such as:
- Chronic wasting conditions
- Breast cancer
How Do Steroids Work?
Anabolic steroids act similarly to the natural hormone testosterone, which plays a vital role in the growth of muscle tissue and strength. Those are far from the only roles of testosterone, but they’re the primary ones that attract bodybuilders and athletes to anabolic steroid use.
The workings of steroids in the human body are highly complex. You don’t need to be a biological scientist to understand and use steroids, but it is helpful to have a basic idea of how they work. These are some of the critical ways that steroids work:
- By increasing the protein within the skeletal muscles and other cells
- By stimulating muscle growth (anabolic)
- By blocking the binding of cortisol to prevent muscle tissue breakdown
- By stimulating virilizing (androgenic) effects and male sexual characteristics that become prominent during puberty
After you’ve taken a steroid orally or by injection, the steroid travels through your bloodstream (at a speed controlled by an attached ester, if one exists) and to the muscular tissues. Androgen receptors in the muscles receive the steroid, and once inside the muscle cell, the steroid can further stimulate the process of protein synthesis.
And that’s not all that makes steroids so valuable to athletes: Steroids help block the stress hormone cortisol, which is responsible for the breakdown or loss of muscle tissue. This reduces fatigue and allows a quicker recovery.
Effects of Steroids
The powerful anabolic effects are the reason we use steroids! But what precisely are these beneficial effects, and how do they contribute to your primary goals of gaining muscle, boosting strength, losing fat, enhancing performance, and recovering faster? Let’s check it out:
Protein Synthesis Increase
The most universal of all steroid effects is an increase in protein synthesis, with just about every steroid promoting protein synthesis to some degree. This process involves the protein-building mechanism of cells – in other words, the basic building blocks of lean muscle tissue make it obvious why this is such a desirable effect for steroid-using bodybuilders.
With a higher-than-normal rate of protein synthesis going on, your muscles can grow faster and more extensively – it sounds simple, but that’s the ultimate goal of using steroids (at least for bulking).
Enhanced protein synthesis can also aid in recovering and preserving existing muscle tissue. On a fat loss or cutting cycle where you’re eating less, losing muscle is a real risk. To maintain your muscle mass, you need the protein balance to remain at zero; if it falls under this, your muscle gets broken down. So, increased protein synthesis helps build NEW muscle and helps you retain the lean gains you’ve worked hard for.
Increases in Collagen Synthesis and Bone Mineral Content
Most steroids will increase the process of collagen synthesis while additionally strengthening the bones by boosting bone mineral levels. Increased collagen synthesis can help to:
- Relieve joint pain
- Prevent bone loss
- Increase muscle mass
Collagen also acts as an antioxidant and supports the skin and connective tissues. In other words, enhanced collagen synthesis has wide-ranging health benefits. By boosting your bone mineral storage content, steroids help increase the hardness and strength of your bones.
When you’re undertaking intensive bodybuilding and other exercise, your skeletal system comes under a lot of stress. Improving and maintaining bone strength helps your frame support the weight you lift and the increased muscle you will gain.
Increased Nutrient Partitioning
By enhancing the efficiency of how your body uses nutrients from foods (mostly carbs, proteins, and fats), each calorie you take in is used to its full potential.
Steroids play a role in optimizing the nutrient pathways of the body by effectively shuttling nutrients to muscles that are giving the signal that protein synthesis is being initiated. So all those quality carbohydrates, healthy fats, protein, vitamins, and minerals are making their way to the muscle tissue quicker and in more significant quantities than if you were not using steroids.
You may have heard about steroids being used in cattle farming. This is because feed efficiency is increased, resulting in more muscle on the animals and less fat.
Increased Hemoglobin (Red Blood Cell Count)
Each red blood cell contains a hemoglobin protein in the center, which allows the attachment of oxygen. When hemoglobin levels rise, so does your red blood cell count. The result? Increased circulation and oxygen-carrying capacity to deliver oxygen to your working muscles.
In a practical sense, you will notice muscle energy increases and your overall performance is boosted significantly:
- Higher intensity workouts
- Ability to lift heavier weights
- Workout longer and with delayed fatigue
- Anti-glucocorticoid effects
Steroids have a powerful anti-catabolic effect on muscles (after all, they are ANABOLIC steroids – the opposite of catabolic). Stress hormones like cortisol, which naturally rises during intense exercise, contribute to muscle breakdown and loss.
All anabolic steroids, to a differing extent (depending on their varying anabolic and androgenic strengths), will promote anti-glucocorticoid and anti-catabolic effects by stimulating the storage of protein and construction of muscle tissue at a high level compared to the muscle being broken down. Again, this process is critical for BOTH muscle growth and prevention of muscle loss during calorie-deficit cutting cycles.
What is an Ester?
Imagine if you had to inject an anabolic steroid once, twice, three times every single day. That’s what would have to happen if there was no such thing as an ester. So what exactly does an ester do, and how does it provide benefits to you as a steroid user?
At the most basic level, the purpose of an ester is to extend the half-life and release rate of the steroid into the bloodstream.
Most oral anabolic steroids have no ester attached. That’s why you usually have to take orals multiple times per day to maintain high levels of the steroid. That’s right: oral steroids will be released immediately into the bloodstream.
But most injectable steroids will have a half-life ranging from 24 hours at the short end to 14 days or more. And it all comes down to the attached ester. Two well-known injectables come with no ester:
- Testosterone Suspension
- Winstrol Depot (Stanozolol)
By understanding esters, you will be in the best position to create effective steroid cycles with compounds that complement each other based on their different half-lives and onset of effects.
What is a Half-Life?
Knowing all about steroid half-life will contribute significantly towards your success with using every compound! Half-life is a scientific concept that is applied to all types of drugs and substances, whether it be steroids, pharmaceuticals, or vitamins (and more).
The elimination half-life of a steroid can be defined as: “The amount of time it takes for the concentration of a drug to reduce by half.” There’s more than one reason why you should take the time to understand steroid half-lives:
- Safety: Misunderstanding the half-life can lead to inappropriate use and stacking of steroids, leading to health risks.
- Side effects: Failure to grasp half-life can result in unnecessarily severe side effects from improper steroid use.
- Poor results: By not administering steroids at the correct intervals or not stacking correctly in accordance with different half-lives, you’re not likely to get the maximum possible results from a cycle.
So if you’re using an injectable steroid with a half-life of approximately eight days and you take a 400mg dosage, at the 8-day mark (or thereabouts), there will be about 200mg of the steroid circulating in your body.
The half-life of steroids is not an exact science. Why? Because other factors will influence the half-life of any steroid, including your metabolism. However, the approximate half-lives that are known for all our commonly used anabolic steroids provide a solid base to plan your cycles on.
What Affects the Different Steroid Half-Lives?
The properties of each steroid are what will mainly determine its half-life. But that’s not all! Your individual metabolism will also go some way in altering the half-life. In other words, you might metabolize a steroid slower or faster than the next person.
So, three main factors affect the half-life of steroids:
- Route of administration
- Resistance to metabolism
Here’s a short overview of the importance of each one:
Route of Administration
The method of administering the steroid plays a considerable role in its half-life. Oral and injectable are the two primary options:
- Orals almost always come with a very short half-life because no ester is attached to the hormone to slow its release.
- Injectable steroid half-life can be controlled through esterification (see the next point).
The fact that oral steroids pass through the liver results in the liver’s metabolism promoting a faster metabolism of the steroid – resulting in a half-life of as short as 4 hours for some oral compounds.
However, the process of esterification (attachment of an ester) is perhaps the most critical factor in a steroid’s half-life. The bonded ester controls the speed at which the hormone is released into your body after injection. You’ll find testosterone steroids with different attached esters – some have a short half-life, and others are very long or slow-acting.
Once you’ve injected, the ester starts to detach from the hormone, and where it is a long ester, it can take a week or two before the effects of the steroid even start to kick in. It also takes longer to exit your system once you stop injecting, and this impacts when you start PCT.
Resistance to Metabolism
Your metabolism will provide some influence on the half-life of a steroid, but not to the extent of the other points above. Your life will influence oral steroids’ metabolism, which will naturally vary between individuals.
Some of the factors that can play a role in your metabolism of steroids include genetic factors, any existing disorders (such as those relating to the liver), and any other substances or medications you might be using.
Types of Steroids
One of the big newbie mistakes is to think all steroids are the same, or at least that they’re all very similar, so it doesn’t matter which one you use. Newbs want to get ripped fast. Well, it doesn’t work like that!
And if you’re a guy under 25, you should be maxing yourself out naturally and reaching your full genetic potential before even thinking about gear. So once you ARE ready to use gear, there’s a lot to learn and understand. There are hundreds of different steroids, but not all are anabolic steroids…
Corticosteroids are another well-known group, but corticosteroids have a totally different medical use. They’re great for reducing inflammation and overactive immune response, but they’re not going to serve you for muscle growth.
So what does all this mean for you? It simply means you need to be aware of the right TYPES of steroids to use for what you’re trying to achieve. And obviously, for us bodybuilders, it’s the anabolic steroid category that serves our needs.
We’re not through yet, though – this is just the beginning! Let’s look closer at the three types of anabolic steroids that can help produce the results for you if your goals are to get jacked, get ripped, get massive, and do so quicker than you could ever achieve without them.
To recap: The three categories below describe the three types of steroid hormones that all anabolic steroids are derived from.
Testosterone and Testosterone Derivatives
As the primary male natural steroid hormone, unmodified testosterone steroids (synthetic forms of the hormone) are usually the first place we start if using steroids for the first time.
It’s a good idea: Your body is used to testosterone. You’re simply providing it with higher doses than you’d naturally produce (yes, that can come with inadvertent side effects). But when testosterone is modified, you get some very different steroid properties. Among testosterone, some of the popular testosterone-derived steroids used for performance enhancement are as follows:
- Testosterone Cypionate (Depo-Testosterone)
- Testosterone Enanthate (Delatestryl, Xyosted)
- Testosterone Propionate (Testoviron)
- Sustanon 250 (Injectable combination of four testosterone esters)
- Dianabol (Methandrostenolone, Metandienone, Danabol, Dbol)
- Equipoise (Boldenone, EQ)
- Halotestin (Fluoxymesterone, Halo)
- Turinabol (Oral Turinabol, Tbol)
You will find that testosterone-derived steroids exhibit similar properties to testosterone. For example:
- The ability to convert (aromatize) to estrogen
- Convert to similarly strong androgens like testosterone converts to dihydrotestosterone (DHT)
Dianabol’s modification from the original testosterone hormone has allowed it to be administered in oral form through the process of C17-alpha alkylation. This gives Dianabol a negative effect that we don’t get with unmodified testosterone: liver toxicity. However, thanks to the chemical modifications of testosterone, Dianabol has a more substantial anabolic effect and reduced androgenic activity.
That takes us to Equipoise – this testosterone-derived steroid is a modified form of Dianabol. EQ has less estrogenic activity than Dianabol, but all testosterone-derived steroids can result in the development of water retention. What does this mean for you? Testosterone derivatives are typically favored more for bulking cycles rather than cutting cycles where fluid retention is undesirable.
Dihydrotestosterone (DHT) and DHT Derivatives
DHT-derived steroids are prevalent, and MOST of the steroids used by bodybuilders are DHT derivatives. Some of the very well-known steroids based on DHT include:
- Anavar (Oxandrolone, Oxandrin, Var)
- Primobolan (Methenolone Acetate or Enanthate, Primo)
- Winstrol (Stanozolol, Winny)
- Anadrol (Oxymetholone, A-bombs, A50, Drol)
- Masteron (Drostanolone, Dromostanolone)
- Proviron (Mesterolone)
- Superdrol (Methasterone, SD)
Surprisingly, for an anabolic steroid, DHT possesses no ability to be anabolic within muscle tissue. But here’s where it gets interesting: When DHT is modified slightly, such as with Masteron, for example, it results in a steroid that’s more powerful anabolically (even if only a little) than testosterone.
The enormous appeal of DHT-derived steroids is that they create no estrogenic activity at all, and therefore, no water retention is possible. A lot of bodybuilders prefer DHT-based steroids because of:
This becomes obvious when we look at the list of DHT derivatives above and see they consist of some of the most widely used cutting steroids in existence. Without the estrogenic and associated bloating, you can achieve a lean, hard, dry look that’s highly sought after and difficult or impossible to achieve with compounds that aromatize.
Nandrolone (19-Nortestosterone) and 19-Nortestosterone Derivatives
This category contains just one steroid that’s available to most of us: Trenbolone. Other Nandrolone-based steroids have been created but are either not well-known or undesirable for various reasons.
Nandrolone itself, unmodified, similar to testosterone, lacks the 19th position carbon atom, which makes it quite different in its effects compared to testosterone. Nandrolone and Trenbolone will often be called 19-nor compounds for this reason. But there’s more to know: 19-nor steroids are unique when it comes to some side effects, and they can be notorious.
With additional modifications to Nandrolone to create Trenbolone, we get a steroid that cannot interact with the aromatase enzyme. Trenbolone is famous for its substantial anabolic and androgenic ratings of 500 and 500. It makes Trenbolone, in particular, a steroid that’s rarely ideal for beginners.
Despite this, Nandrolone steroids are favored by a lot of bodybuilders and athletes, just as DHT-derived steroids are. Because of the high resistance to aromatization, we can use Tren without fluid retention and gyno. But you do get a bunch of other side effects to worry about:
- Mood and anger issues
- Tren cough
- Tren dick (testosterone shutdown)
Oral and Injectable Steroids
The age-old newbie dilemma: Do I go oral or injectable steroids? Even when you’ve got some experience under your belt, you’ll still be weighing up the pros and cons of oral steroids vs. injectable steroids.
Understandably, new users are going to be hesitant to use injections most of the time. After all, it’s a big step to make that decision to inject yourself with a substance. Oral steroids then seem like the easier option. The safer option. The more convenient option. But are they? It’s not quite that simple.
The genuinely experienced and confident steroid user has a firm understanding of not only the good and bad aspects of each type of steroid but, even more importantly: “How to stack different steroid types for maximum effect”. This is what separates the novice steroid user from the real experts. So, let’s dig a little deeper, because it is CRITICAL to understand if you will use and combine anabolic steroids safely and effectively.
Orals Pros and Cons
Orals are valued by those who know how to use them properly. But they can be feared by guys who don’t understand them or how to fit them into a cycle best. It’s wise to be cautious about using oral steroids, but with enough knowledge you should be able to make use of any oral without suffering serious harm.
The downsides of oral steroids include the following:
- There is a high chance of hepatotoxicity, increasing with higher doses and longer-term use, which stresses the liver (with few exceptions such as Anavar)
- Short half-life means taking orals multiple times daily
- Higher cardiovascular risk puts pressure on the heart by lowering HDL cholesterol
- They can have low bioavailability if consumed with food, so should be taken without food for the best results
So, what about the pros of oral steroids? There are a few:
- Easy to take: Everyone finds it easier to drop a pill compared to injecting, making it much more convenient to take each dose.
- Quicker results: It’s only natural that you’ll see the effects come on fast as oral steroids start working within hours. So, results are usually much quicker than with injectables.
- Fast clearance of your system: Oral steroid detection time is much quicker than most injectables, providing an advantage if you think you’ll be tested.
Below are some of the most common oral AAS you will come across with their anabolic/androgenic (AA) values, half-lives, and detection times:
|Compound||AA Values||Half-Life||Detection Time|
|Dianabol||90-210/40-60||4.5-6 hours||Six weeks|
|Anadrol 50||320/45||8-9 hours||Eight weeks|
|Winstrol||320/30||9 hours||Three weeks|
|Superdrol||400/20||6-8 hours||8-10 weeks|
|Primobolan Oral||88/44-57||2-3 days||4-5 weeks|
|Halotestin||1900/850||9.5 hours||Two months|
|Turinabol||100+/None||16 hours||11-12 months|
|Proviron||100-150/30-40||12 hours||5-6 weeks|
Injectables Pros and Cons
Whichever way you look at injecting steroids, you will find arguments both for and against it. There are some pretty apparent downsides to injecting, and you’ve probably thought about some of them already. The main cons are:
- Potential pain and discomfort at the injection site (some steroids hurt more than others)
- Possible injury to the muscle
- Risk of infection if perfect hygiene and sterility aren’t maintained
- Some steroids are known to induce sudden coughing, particularly Trenbolone, due to irritation to the lungs
But there are also some benefits of using injectable steroids over orals. These include:
- Longer half-life: Injectables can be administered just once or twice weekly, meaning you don’t have to constantly think about taking your dose multiple times daily.
- Better for the liver and heart: While some injectables can bring some liver toxicity risks, it’s rarely comparable to orals. Injectables may raise blood pressure but usually don’t decrease HDL cholesterol levels like orals do.
- Testosterone: If you want regular, unmodified testosterone, injections provide the most options except oral Andriol.
Below are some of the most common injectable AAS you will come across with their anabolic/androgenic (AA) values, half-lives, and detection times:
|Compound||AA Values||Half-Life||Detection Time|
|Deca-Durabolin||125/37||15 days||18 months|
|Primobolan Depot||88/44-57||10.5 days||Five weeks|
|Masteron||62-130/25-40||3-4 days||Three weeks|
|Sustanon 250||100/100||15-18 days||Three months|
|Winstrol Depot||320/30||One day||Nine weeks|
|Testosterone Enanthate||100/100||10.5 days||Three months|
|Testosterone Cypionate||100/100||12 days||Three months|
|Testosterone Propionate||100/100||3-4.5 days||Two weeks|
|Equipoise||100/50||14 days||4-5 months|
|Trenbolone Acetate||500/500||Three days||Five months|
|Trenbolone Enanthate||500/500||Eight days||Five months|
Orals vs. Injectable
Every single steroid user has – or will – ask themselves: Should I be using oral or injectable steroids? Or should I use both? As you can see, there’s no one black-and-white answer. That’s because it depends on YOU and what your goals are.
What you want from steroids might be different from what I want to get out of a cycle, so there will never be one correct answer. A common misunderstanding is that one method is safer than the other.
In reality, both oral and injectable steroids come with their own set of risks, and it’s up to YOU to weigh up the risks versus the rewards before making a decision about what type of steroids (if any) you’re going to be comfortable using.
As for results, both oral and injectable steroids are more than capable of delivering powerful anabolic effects. Ultimately, your results will come down not to the administration type of your steroids but to how you use them, how you plan your cycles, and how optimal your diet and training are!
In other words, you can fail on orals and injectables if you don’t do the other things right. And you can see awesome results with either if you put the effort in.
Many of the popular cycles combine both orals and injectables in a stack, so you get to reap the benefits of each rather than exclusively using just one type of steroid (yes, this also means dealing with the side effects that come with each – that’s the nature of steroid use).
So, where to buy AAS? You can buy safe and legal anabolic steroids from Crazy Bulk (the best AAS supplier). Give them a try – they won’t disappoint!
Deciding to use anabolic steroids for the first time is a massive step. After all, you’re thinking of modifying your body’s chemistry and natural processes, and that’s not something to take lightly. Get it all right? You can take your physique and your physical performance to a level you’d never imagined. But get it wrong? You could be in for a lifetime of health complications – or worse.
So, if you are doing the right thing and taking in as much info as possible, you might still feel confused or suffer from information overload. No, there’s nothing wrong with you. It’s just that there’s a lot of info to take in, and it’s worth your time to read everything here until it sinks in. Then, ask yourself these questions before you even think about planning and doing your first cycle. Think of it as a test you need to pass!
- Are you at the right age to start using steroids?
- Have you been training long enough to make it worth using steroids?
- What makes some steroids different from others?
- Which side effects do you need to worry about with each type of steroid?
- What’s a steroid half-life, and why is it important?
- What does stacking mean?
- What’s an ester, and what does it do to a steroid?
- What are the main differences between injectable and oral steroids?
- What’s an AI and SERM, and why would you need them?
- What is PCT, and when should you do it?
- What’s the difference between an intramuscular injection and a subcutaneous injection?
- What will you eat while on a steroid cycle?
- What is so vital about needle gauges?
There’s a lot more to ask yourself, but these are a good starting point to cover your bases. I’m writing this up because, from what I see every day, 9 out of 10 guys shouldn’t even be thinking about starting gear. Don’t repeat the mistakes of so many who did not research properly before you. It will all be worth it because, in the end, you’ll be doing it right the first time.
Should I use steroids?
Let’s look at who should even be cycling at all (or who shouldn’t be), plus how to train and eat well to make using steroids worth it. If any of the following apply to you, you should NOT do steroid cycles:
1. If you’re under 25 years old
Up until around age 25, your natural testosterone is at its highest level of your life, and you’re in a perfect position to build muscle naturally.
And you know what else?
Your endocrine system could come under stress because before you hit 25, it’s in a normal state of fluctuation. Everyone will vary, but waiting until you hit 27 or so before trying steroids is a good way to go. Even if you’re only 20 and think you need steroids now – you really don’t!
There are a few exceptions, but these are uncommon. Some teens take on intense training, have an extreme level of physical development already, and have come to a genetic wall. In these cases, guys might start on gear at 20 years of age, but you’d want an excellent reason to do it.
2. If you’ve been training for under five years (even if you are over 25 years old)
It would be best if you had been a regular trainer for a minimum of five years, doing it naturally with a quality diet. At that point, the gear will take you to another level that you couldn’t naturally achieve.
3. If you have a terrible training and diet discipline
Don’t think of gear as a magic solution, having you pack on muscle and get ripped while you down donuts watching Netflix all night. One thing you will get with that lifestyle is some nice water retention!
So before even starting, think about how and what you’re going to eat, how often, how much, and how your training will work. Ideally, you’re already eating and training well anyway, so you’ll need to tweak it to get the results that you’re after. If either your diet or training is not on point, you’re simply throwing money down the drain.
4. If you’re carrying too much weight
Steroids aren’t a weight loss pill. You should already be down to a reasonable level of body fat through good old dieting and exercise.
Think about it: if you’re having trouble losing fat without gear, you won’t do any better on it (and that includes a cutting cycle; those are for already lean guys who want to lose some of the last percentages of body fat). Try a fat burner product instead, then return to steroids once you’re in better shape.
5. If you have emotional issues
Uncontrollable rage, a short fuse, and anger issues. These are all excellent reasons NOT to use anabolic steroids. Likewise, if you suffer from depression or anxiety, you should rethink the use of steroids.
Steroids will likely make you feel good while you’re using them, but you could descend into a more negative space once you come off a cycle. And if it’s anger or mood issues affecting you, steroids can amplify it considerably! Not everyone suffers from roid rage, but it’s a higher possibility when you’re already a livewire with a short temper.
So if even one of the above applies to you, you’re not an ideal person to use gear. I recommend reading this two times, then again, until it all sinks in. Then, come up with a plan that suits YOU based on your knowledge about using gear and all related things.
Your First Cycle
To get this out of the way, don’t contact me asking for sources of where to get your gear. That’s not my domain. I’m more than happy to assist with cycle plans, but as for making buying connections, you’ll have to work that part out.
Also, I’m not a doctor or any other professional, just someone with long-term experience who wants to share it around. So take this as casual advice and do your own diligence. Now, about your first steroid cycle… There are two main reasons I’m writing this up now:
- To help avoid the regular repetitive questions of “How does my first cycle look?” which wastes the time of those with knowledge who feel compelled to write the same answers over and over. So, instead of wasting people’s time with the same questions that have been asked for the last twenty years (online, at least), read my guide and, if needed, reread it.
- I want to make it easier and quicker for newbies to create a cycle that matches their goals and help guys stop making avoidable mistakes that give gear a lousy name.
You can look at the first cycles in one of two main ways:
Some users believe it’s better to go hard and high dose on your first cycle using mainly testosterone and orals or other secondary compounds. Why? Because gains will be significant on your first cycle, the thought is you might as well max out as much as you can.
I have some concerns with this strategy, though, mostly revolving around the high risk of things going bad. Without proper preparation for what you’ll be getting yourself into with high doses (we’re talking between 1000mg and 1500mg weekly in total), especially regarding side effects, think long and hard before jumping into this approach on your first cycle.
The other option is to stick with a moderate dose of testosterone (600mg max), then follow that with more cycles with different compounds along with testosterone to build up your gains.
So put aside that urge to use Winstrol, Deca, Tren, or anything else on the first cycle and save them for future cycles, adding just one at a time to see how you respond to each! A big mistake is to think these other compounds work better than testosterone. They don’t – each one works differently. Until you understand testosterone, forget about the other steroids for now.
So, what do I think is the best way to go? Both have their merits, but I lean towards the more moderate second approach simply because it’s going to be easier and safer with less risk of the sudden shock of side effects that come with high doses.
So, let’s look at a sample ideal first cycle for just about anyone. Or use this cycle as a base that you can build on to create something more specific to the goals you have.
Example of option #2 above (simple and moderate cycle):
- Weeks 1-10: Testosterone Enanthate 250mg every three days
- Weeks 1-12: Arimidex 0.25mg every other day (halve the dose in the final week)
If you want to add more to it, you can look at many secondary options. Some examples are:
- Dianabol (weeks 1-4): 30mg daily for a kickstart or plateau breaker mid-cycle
- Deca-Durabolin (weeks 1-8): 300mg weekly (for more bulking)
- Trenbolone Enanthate (weeks 1-8): 150mg every three days (for more strength)
- Proviron (weeks 6-12): 50mg daily (mainly used to support libido)
Then there are some of the optional ancillary compounds you can consider:
- Nolvadex: 20mg daily (for any gyno symptoms)
- HCG: 250iu three times weekly (for better recovery and to avoid your nuts shrinking)
- Caber: 0.5mg twice weekly (to address prolactin)
At week 13, you start post-cycle therapy.
Whichever way you go, you have to make sure all the steroids are cleared from your system before starting PCT. Otherwise, you’ll still be dealing with suppression. This is where knowing your steroid half-lives and clearance times is crucial.
PCT Example 1 (SERM):
- Week 13: Nolvadex 40mg daily, or Clomid 100mg daily
- Week 14: Nolvadex 20mg daily, or Clomid 50mg daily
PCT Example 2 (Testosterone stasis and taper):
- Weeks 10-12 off (provided you used Test enanthate or similar ester)
- Weeks 13-14 Testosterone Enanthate 40mg every three days (mimics regular levels)
- Weeks 15-16 Testosterone Enanthate 30mg every three days
- Weeks 17-18 Testosterone Enanthate 20mg every three days
- Weeks 19-20 Testosterone Enanthate 10mg every three days
The idea of tapering down allows your body enough time to get levels back to normal naturally, with gradually decreasing support during PCT. You can learn a lot more about testosterone tapering, but above is the basic strategy that works for most guys. So that’s all about what to take. As you know, diet and training will ultimately determine your results.
The 1 Vial Testosterone Cycle for Beginners
The idea of this cycle is to keep things as simple and cheap as possible! You will use just one vial of a steroid. Testosterone Cypionate is a good choice.
Since it’s your first cycle, you’re probably going to find gains come on fast and big, so there’s a lot of bang for the buck in this cycle. Here’s what you’ll need:
- One 10cc vial of Testosterone Cypionate or Testosterone Enanthate
- Clomid (approx 20 tablets) for PCT
- Eight syringes
The cycle is very simple: One injection per week for eight weeks. That’s it. You can taper the dose up and then down to allow your body to adjust. E.g.:
- Week 1 – 1/2cc
- Week 2 – 1cc
- Week 3 – 1.5cc
- Week 4 – 2cc
- Week 5 – 2cc
- Week 6 – 1.5cc
- Week 7 – 1cc
- Week 8 – 1/2cc
Remember: 1cc equals 1ml. Follow these simple steps for injecting:
- Use rubbing alcohol to clean the top of the steroid vial.
- Tip the vial upside down and insert the needle.
- Pull back the plunger to fill the syringe with your desired dose.
- Remove any air bubbles by slowly pushing the plunger until the oil touches the needle, then give the syringe a flick so the air bubble moves to the top.
- Insert the needle into your chosen injection site (see my write-up below about injecting sites).
- Pull back a small amount to check for blood. If there’s blood, remove the needle. If there is no blood, slowly push down the plunger until the steroid is injected.
- Wipe and massage the area to clean and disperse the oil.
- Use a new needle for each weekly injection.
For PCT, use Clomid and start taking it two weeks after your last Testosterone injection.
- Take 1 x 50mg Clomid tablet daily for three weeks.
- Wait at least 8-12 weeks before starting another steroid cycle to allow your body to recover.
Usually, you want to see the most significant and fastest results on your beginner steroid cycle. Most of this will depend on your DIET and TRAINING. But if you get them right, the effects of the steroids will be impressive.
So here are some tested steroid cycles for beginners that are going to produce fast muscle gains:
A standard 500mg weekly Test cycle of 10 weeks:
- Obtain 2 x 10ml Testosterone Enanthate or Cypionate bottles. Either of these can be injected once a week thanks to their longer half-life.
- Inject 500mg per week and rotate the injection site each time. See my detailed info below about the best injection sites.
- Follow the “1 Vial Cycle” above for the injecting technique.
Expect to wait about 2 to 3 weeks for the effects of the testosterone to kick in; then, you’ll see a notable increase in strength and well-being, plus some of the adverse effects like possible acne. You might not need any anti-estrogens with this cycle. But if you’re worried about gyno, try 10mg daily of Nolvadex.
What kind of gains can you expect? Put the work in, and 20lbs of muscle is possible.
Testosterone and Dianabol Cycle
This is if you want to stack on your first cycle. Do you want even more significant gains than a Test-only cycle? This is a shorter, more powerful cycle. Dianabol is run for the first six weeks only (first 40 days of the cycle), with Testosterone for eight weeks. DBol brings on gains fast at the beginning of the cycle.
- 100 x 10mg (or 200 x 5mg) Dianabol tabs
- 1 x 10ml Testosterone Enanthate bottle
The daily dose is 25mg of Dianabol, with Testosterone dosed as you see fit, but you’ll probably want to go with under 500mg/week here. Think 300mg/week, then go with 500mg on your next cycle. Optionally, take 10mg daily of Nolvadex to combat gyno from Dianabol. Follow the “1 Vial Cycle” above for the injecting technique for testosterone. Break your Dianabol dosage up to 2-3 times per day.
Deca-Durabolin and Dianabol Cycle
The old-school stack of Deca and Dianabol never disappoints, and testosterone is left out mainly for reasons of saving money. As long as you keep Deca to a low-level dose, this cycle should be suitable for a beginner.
Get these things:
- 1 x 10cc Deca vial
- 200 x 5mg Dbol tabs
Again, follow the 1 Vial Testosterone Cycle above and replace the Test with Deca. Take 25mg of Dbol daily, splitting it throughout the day. Run Dbol only for the first six weeks. The cycle runs for only eight weeks, which is enough for Deca to work to its maximum effect.
Recovery/PCT: A simple PCT will be sufficient after any of the above cycles. Start taking 50mg of Clomid every day, two weeks after your cycle ends, to get your natural Test back on track.
A long steroid cycle will run anywhere from 3 months up to 9 months in length. This is a long time to be using one or more steroids continuously! In other words, these cycles don’t include a break from the steroid compounds at any point, so be prepared for the long haul. You should be familiar with the pros and cons of this strategy before jumping in.
I’ll cover the good, the bad, and more about long steroid cycles here. In my own experience, these cycles have their place, BUT you better have a good reason for wanting to go in this direction because it won’t be without its downsides.
Let me say this: Cycles of this length should ONLY ever be considered if you have a ton of steroid experience under your belt already and you feel that you’re ready to take things to a whole new level. If you’re a noob, skip this section altogether and start at the standard and medium cycles below.
WHO is a long cycle suitable for?
Mainly for the most experienced users. Long cycles can also be more manageable for older guys or males with naturally low testosterone, with less harmful impact on testosterone production. Pros of long steroid cycles include:
- More permanent gains will depend on your dedication to working out and eating right for the ENTIRE steroid cycle. But when done well, with how your body adapts to the growing muscle mass, gains are often more permanent and less likely to drop off after the cycle.
- More time for long esters to kick in: Long-ester steroids will well and truly be at their peak on a long cycle, allowing more sustained muscle gains, particularly for the first two to three months.
- Plenty of time for blasting and cruising: A common and effective strategy to break through plateaus on a long cycle is to blast at high doses for a short time to bring on the gains, followed by cruising to maintain them.
There are plenty of potential negatives of longer-term steroid use, but here are the main things to think about:
- High cost: Even the cheapest steroids will add up to a pretty penny with months of use.
- Testosterone shutdown: The longer you use steroids, the more stress the HPTA will experience, and most often, this will lead to a shutdown. A well-planned PCT is of paramount importance after a long cycle.
- More severe side effects: It’s to be expected that many other side effects will be harder to control or worsen on a long cycle.
OK, I know what you’re thinking: the cons outweigh the pros of long cycles by a serious margin. It simply comes down to your personal goals and your tolerance for this kind of steroid use. In other words, long steroid cycles are certainly NOT for everyone, and you should take the time to seriously weigh the pros and cons before proceeding.
Primary Compounds in Long Cycles
You might use a bunch of compounds in this cycle, but one will usually be the MAIN compound that takes on the primary anabolic role for the duration of the cycle.
You generally want to go with a reliable and “safe” steroid as the primary compound, which always leads us to testosterone. Testosterone cypionate or enanthate are the two standard choices as a primary compound. There are good reasons to go with a standard long Testosterone ester as your primary compound:
- Long half-life: You can minimize injections to twice weekly with either of these esters and maintain optimal levels of the steroid.
- Balance of androgenic to anabolic effects: Testosterone is the standard steroid hormone with a 100:100 anabolic-androgenic ratio, so you avoid the severe androgenic effects that come with some other compounds.
Here’s a quick recap of what these androgenic and anabolic effects actually mean:
- Increased male characteristics like body and facial hair growth
- Increased sex drive and aggressiveness
- Increased skin sebum production
- Prostate tissue growth
- Reduced catabolic activity
- Quicker muscle tissue repair and recovery
- Increases in lean body mass and muscle strength
- Increased fat loss
- Increased nitrogen retention and protein synthesis
- Improved immune function
- Boosted red blood cell count
- High bone calcium deposits
- Reduced catabolic activity
- Higher retention of electrolytes
Testosterone is the steroid we all come back to because it works and does everything you need, and it’s the only steroid that most of us will want to use for a continual period of time, with a cycle lasting many months.
OK, so what about doses? Long-cycle testosterone dosage will range from 200mg/weekly at the low end if you’re looking for HRT only… Up to 800mg or even more at the top end when cruising on a long cycle. If you’re blasting, you’ll look at even higher doses, but I’ll cover that in the short cycle section below.
Secondary Compounds in Long Cycles
Why would you add secondary compounds to your long steroid cycle? Here are three good reasons:
- Boost your overall androgens without increasing the side effects of testosterone to unmanageable levels. Adding compounds with lower androgenic properties gives an anabolic boost without an equal increase in androgenic side effects.
- Modify your anabolic-androgenic ratio away from the standard 100:100 of testosterone so you can customize the cycle to achieve specific goals.
- Insert specific additional benefits to the cycle, such as joint support, fat burning, increased appetite, and other properties from different steroids.
Not all steroids will be suitable to use in these long cycles. The steroids that are worth looking at to include as secondary compounds are:
- Masteron Enanthate or Primobolan: Long half-lives and the ability to harden and dry the physique for a ripped look. Powerful cutting steroids that won’t add water weight to your gains.
- Equipoise and/or Deca-Durabolin: Both of these have a long half-life.
Deca and EQ combine very well with testosterone, and their estrogenic and androgenic effects are less severe. EQ and Deca can provide a boost to strength and mass gaining while minimizing additional side effects.
Equipoise has the added benefits of boosting the appetite and improving stamina, vascularity, and pumps. EQ can increase blood pressure, so dosing is often set at 50-75% of the testosterone dose to reduce the cardiovascular risk.
Deca-Durabolin is a great steroid to include as a secondary compound, with well-known benefits that should be familiar with from past use:
- Deca has powerful anabolic properties with lower androgenic and estrogenic properties: reduced hair loss, cholesterol effects, etc…
- A bonus benefit of supporting joint health, bone density and boosting collagen synthesis
- Gyno is less of a risk when Deca is not used at very high doses
- It can be injected just once weekly if desired.
One of the big reasons Deca is added to a long cycle is its exceptional benefits to the joints and bones, providing essential support when great stress is being placed on the joints and bones over many months. In fact, joint and bone support can be the sole reason some people add Deca to a long cycle as a secondary compound. That’s how powerful this benefit is.
You can still expect some downsides with Deca, though. Negative libido impacts are possible; dosage is often set at half of the testosterone dose to combat this.
We’re not through yet: There’s still Masteron and Primobolan to think about. Masteron is another steroid to consider as a secondary long-cycle compound seriously. It’s derived from DHT and delivers increased muscle hardness minus the fluid retention.
Masteron won’t give you estrogen pain and, in fact, can result in increased free testosterone, with users often reporting enhanced libido as a result. On the other hand, Masteron does have some androgenic downsides, so hair loss and possible prostate growth can be issues, especially when using Masteron for a longer term.
Primobolan is also a DHT-derived steroid, and it’s a good one to use in long cycles as it’s a tolerable compound with reduced androgenic effects and milder testosterone suppression.
And the downsides of Primobolan? It’s one of the more expensive steroids, so if money is tight, this might be one you’ll have to skip in a long cycle. To get the best from Primobolan, you do have to take higher doses, and this, of course, pushes the cost up further.
If the choice is between Masteron and Primobolan, most of us will go with Masteron, which can (and should) be run at a lower dose. In fact, higher doses of Masteron can result in excessive muscle tightening; 300mg per week of Masteron will provide the best results for most users.
Ancillary Compounds in Long Cycle
The reason we add ancillary compounds to a lengthy steroid cycle is to address any and all expected side effects. Obviously, you don’t go using all of them, but make your choices based on your known sensitivities to specific side effects.
Again, this is why long cycles are purely for experienced steroid users, where you already have a solid understanding of how you respond to anabolic steroids. Here are your main ancillary compounds to plan for:
- Water retention and gyno caused by water retention: Arimidex or Aromasin (aromatase inhibitors), Nolvadex, and Clomid (SERMs).
- Hair loss (male pattern baldness) caused by high DHT levels: Finasteride/Proscar. Useful for steroids that convert to DHT, but not effective against DHT-derived steroids. Dutasteride or Avodart – can block both types of 5 alpha-reductase enzymes.
- High blood pressure: Beta-blockers, diuretics, ace inhibitors. Note: Speak to your doctor before considering any medications to address blood pressure.
- Prolactin-related side effects: Mirapex, Cabergoline, Bromocriptine. Vitamin B6 can provide mild support.
- Progesterone: Winstrol (an anabolic steroid) is known as an anti-progestogenic, so it is helpful in controlling gyno that’s induced by high progesterone levels.
- Shrunken testicles: HCG can mitigate this issue where follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and/or luteinizing hormone (LH) are shut down, causing nut shrinkage. It instructs the testicles to grow and produce testosterone. Only low doses are required to prevent too much stimulation of the lydig cells, which can bring about the opposite of your desired effect here.
Just how much HCG you might need depends on you as an individual: your genetics, steroid doses, and so on. Here’s a general HCG dosing guideline for different cycle lengths:
Take note: There are two main ways of using HCG. The first in each list below is the dosage for using HCG during all or most of a cycle at a low dose. The second listed dose is when you have NOT used HCG in the cycle, and here, you will only use it for the last 2-3 weeks of the cycle.
- Up to six weeks cycle length: No need to use HCG.
- Eight weeks cycle length: From weeks 3-8, take 250iu once every three days or once weekly 1000iu for the last two weeks of the cycle.
- Twelve weeks cycle length: From weeks 3-12, take 250iu once every three days or once weekly 1000iu for the last three weeks of the cycle.
- Sixteen weeks cycle length: From weeks 3-8, take 250iu once every three days, followed by a 2-week break, then again 250iu once every three days for weeks 11-16 or once weekly 1000iu for the last three weeks of the cycle.
Important: Taking an aromatase inhibitor is highly recommended if you’re using 1000iu HCG shots. Aromasin at 10mg or Arimidex at 0.5mg daily is ideal for controlling estrogen. Continue taking the AI for another four days after your final HCG dose, then stop.
As if that’s not enough…
When you’re using HCG during a cycle, you should stop it two weeks before your known anabolic steroid clearance time. This is for reasons relating to PCT. It ensures once you start PCT, steroids will be cleared from the body, and your last HCG shot would have been two weeks ago (this is if your primary compound is one of the testosterone esters mentioned above).
This strategy speeds up your natural testosterone recovery and provides a good reason why using HCG on-cycle is so beneficial! Put simply, the use of HCG following one of the above strategies ensures you start recovering your testosterone production as soon as you begin your PCT.
Post Cycle Therapy (PCT) for Long Cycles
PCT is used to speed up the restoration of your natural testosterone production after it’s been suppressed or even entirely shut down when you use anabolic steroids. Without PCT, you will suffer from low testosterone symptoms, which can be life-ruining, to say the least.
There are two main ways to go about doing PCT:
This strategy provides a more gentle adjustment back to normal Test function by only taking in a natural baseline level of exogenous testosterone. Then, you gradually drop the level down while your body adjusts and increases its test production.
HCG + SERM
HCG gives a rapid boost, and then the SERM will increase both FSH and LH levels to keep things moving until you’re back to normal. These are some other options for using HCG:
- On-cycle at a dose of 250iu (maintenance dose)
- Higher doses at the end of the cycle for the last few weeks. Four shots about five days apart tapering down in dosage is an effective strategy. Starting at 3000iu for the first two, then 1500iu for the final two shots.
Exactly when you start depends on the esters used and their clearing time. Still, the standard Testosterone enanthate or similar length Test ester usually sees a 2-week clearing time following your final steroid shot. After that, you use SERMs for 3-4 weeks. SERMs are best taken when most of the steroid is out of your system; otherwise, it won’t combat the strong suppression.
So that means:
- If using Nolvadex, start at 80mg/daily on day one, then halve the dose to 40mg for a week, and the final 2-3 weeks on 20mg daily.
- Using Clomid in a tapered dosing schedule of 200mg on day 1, then dropping to 150mg for 3-4 days. Drop again to 100mg daily for one week, then down to 50mg daily for the last two weeks.
Long Cycles: Putting It All Together
So what about an essential road map if you wanted to see what a TRT and a very long cycle look like? There’s more than one way to go about it, but this is just one plan to consider to get an idea of how it works.
Testosterone replacement therapy (TRT continuous use):
- Testosterone Cypionate 150mg (once every four days)
- Arimidex 0.025mg (once every four days)
- HGH 2iu ED (Monday – Friday)
Now for a very long cycle example for experienced users only:
- Weeks 1-20: Deca-Durabolin 200mg (once every four days)
- Weeks 1-36: Testosterone Cypionate 500mg (once every four days), Masteron Enanthate 200mg (once every four days)
- Weeks 1-39: Arimidex 0.5mg EOD (tapered in last two weeks to 0.25 EOD)
- Weeks 1-52: HGH 4iu every other day, 40mcg IGF-1/D every other day (post-workout)
- Weeks 37-42: Testosterone Cypionate 50mg twice weekly
- From week 43, start reducing each shot by 5mg until you reach 0mg.
Standard steroid cycles are often the starting point for new users but are also a staple in the strategy of experienced bodybuilders. That’s because the results you can achieve over a 10-12 week standard cycle can be fantastic (provided you put the work in). It’s also not an overwhelming length of time to commit to using steroids.
WHO is a standard cycle best for?
A standard cycle is perfect for just about anyone! Think about it for a minute: 10 to 12 weeks provides enough time to see great results while not being an excessive period of time to use steroids and deal with the associated side effects.
You can use this cycle length for both bulking and cutting, and it gives you massive flexibility in terms of what compounds you can use and how to stack them to achieve the specific goals you have in mind. But let me say this: Regardless of what gear you use, your training and diet will have the biggest impact on your results.
Pros of standard cycles include:
- 10-12 weeks is perfect for gaining lean muscle. The cycle ends when you often start seeing a diminish or plateau in gains. What does this mean for you? You won’t have to employ extreme tactics to push through stagnation (although you can certainly do things to take gains to the next level if desired).
- Longer-acting compounds have enough time to provide maximum results, with there also being enough time to use fast-acting steroids to bring on quick gains at the start of the cycle.
- You don’t waste time using gear when your gains are unproductive. Instead, the cycle stops, and the steroids clear your system so you can plan the next cycle to make more gains after a recovery period.
If you’re going to do recurring cycles, your off-cycle time should be at least equal to the length of the cycle itself. This allows a full HPTA recovery (aided by PCT) and a sufficient break from all steroids before getting back to another cycle.
But that’s just one side of the story… The big consideration with these standard cycles is being able to make progress over a long period of time – years if that’s your goal. Each cycle should be taking you forward, not having you backtrack to make up for lost gains over and over again.
What does this mean for you? It means you need to learn how to recover fully in between cycles. This is just as important as the cycle itself! A 10-12 week standard cycle should give you two cycles each year with enough recovery time in between.
How much you gain and maintain after each cycle will come down to personal factors, but even a 5-10lbs maintainable gain from each cycle is going to accumulate over the years.
The time scale of 10 to 12 weeks makes it possible to combine virtually any compounds with different length esters, essentially allowing you to tailor either a bulking or cutting cycle according to your personal goals.
What about HCG?
It starts to become possible to use HCG throughout a cycle of this length, but most guys will not need or want to use it for so long and instead make use of HCG towards the end of the cycle. Another option is the testosterone tapering strategy.
There are some disadvantages to standard length cycles, although for most users, the benefits are going to outweigh these well-known but usually manageable issues:
- There’s more than enough time for side effects to develop and become more prominent, so you must proactively combat each compound’s adverse effects.
- You’re almost sure to experience shutdown, so HCG will be used to recover natural testosterone and/or SERMs such as Clomid and Nolvadex.
- If you use higher doses or expensive steroids or add additional products like peptides and HCG, your costs can rise quickly.
These disadvantages of a standard length cycle are to be expected with steroid use, and they are aspects that anyone intending to use steroids should be well familiar with before proceeding!
Primary Compounds in Standard Cycles
Just like long cycles, you will almost always look at using one of the most popular forms of testosterone for a standard cycle: Test Propionate, Enanthate, Cypionate, or even the Sustanon blend, which can be the primary compound. Of course, only ONE is required.
This is why any of these testosterone steroids work perfectly as the primary standard cycle compound:
- Testosterone is the go-to anabolic for solid mass gains and strength
- A balanced anabolic-androgenic ratio means side effects aren’t at the extreme end
- Enhances the libido and overall well-being
The only time you might consider using other compounds as the primary is when you use HCG throughout the cycle due to the way HCG will be able to maintain your regular base testosterone levels rather than relying on the testosterone steroid. However, that would be more of an advanced strategy that you’d want a specific reason to follow. Most users will be satisfied with the standard testosterone primary compound.
You might be wondering about typical doses for the primary compound in a standard cycle. The range can be huge, and it will depend on what you’re trying to get out of the cycle! Anywhere from 300mg to 2000mg per week of any of the above testosterone steroids can be effectively used in a standard cycle.
At the lower end, below 500mg, you’re looking at testosterone replacement as well as some noticeable boost to energy, strength, recovery, and some gains. But taking at least 500mg weekly is standard, often increased to 1000mg for significant gains. Rarely will it be necessary to extend the Test dosage to anywhere near 2000mg.
Why not? The side effects will start to overtake the benefits at that point. You’re almost always better off adding secondary compounds instead of taking an excessive testosterone dose.
Secondary Compounds in Standard Cycles
There are almost limitless choices for your secondary compound in a standard cycle. The most common choices include:
- Dianabol (oral)
- Anadrol (oral)
- Winstrol (oral)
Your choices will be made based on whether bulking or cutting is your primary goal.
You can add a whole range of bulking steroids as a secondary (and even third) compound, including both orals and injectables.
Dianabol is an oral steroid that brings with it some severe downsides like gyno, water retention (quite a lot of it), and associated issues with blood pressure. But Dbol is popular for good reasons. Fast acting, it kick starts the cycle, and you’ll start seeing considerable size and strength gains in the early weeks. But there’s also this to think about with Dianabol: Being a 17aa oral steroid, it’s hepatotoxic, so its use needs to be limited in time to avoid serious stress on the liver. 6 weeks is a standard protocol for Dbol use, placed at the beginning of the cycle for a serious kickstart.
Then, another powerful oral steroid works well as a secondary compound: Anadrol (or Drol for short). Anadrol is also a 17aa oral steroid based on DHT, which can give some similar results to DBol but often requires higher dosing (over 50mg daily and up to 150mg, compared to a max of 60mg for Dianabol). Expect a rise in estrogen levels with Drol, leading to gyno and water retention. Using an AI should keep most estrogen issues under control.
Deca and EQ (Boldenone) will also be solid choices for a secondary bulking compound. When combined with any Test ester, gains can be substantial and only limited by your commitment to your diet and workouts!
One of the biggest challenges in a standard bulking cycle is controlling water weight, maintaining gains through effective anti-estrogens, and implementing PCT.
Again, we are spoiled with the choice of secondary compounds to use in a 12-week cutting cycle. Choices will always depend on personal goals, but in most cases, we look to gain some lean mass while dropping body fat and ideally doing so without fluid retention.
What you want out of a cutting is:
- Fat loss
- Muscle hardness
How extreme you want to go depends on you. Competing, or just for your own physique goals? Your diet and training will shape your results just as much as the compounds you choose.
Masteron and Primobolan are two firm favorites as secondary standard cutting cycle compounds. But there are so many other options. Some of my faves are:
Let’s talk about Trenbolone:
Tren is injectable and comes in two esters – enanthate and acetate. It’s a powerful mass and strength builder, often used for bulking but perfect for lean mass gains in a cutting cycle thanks to its lack of estrogen conversion and associated water retention.
The great things about Trenbolone are:
- Powerful protein synthesis
- Anti-catabolic to avoid muscle loss while cutting
- Fat burning effects
- Superb for body recomposition
Then there’s some of the downsides of Tren to consider:
- Highly suppressive of natural testosterone
- Can destroy the libido
- Prolactin levels can increase
- Potentially substantial negative impacts on cholesterol
- A long list of potential side effects according to dosage includes insomnia, mood changes, hair loss, acne, etc.
Trenbolone is more of an advanced compound that should only be considered if you’re a confident steroid user! The side effects can be packed, so you should be familiar with them before proceeding. But how can you minimize the side effects of Trenbolone?
- Keeping the dose to the minimum effective level (max 100mg daily recommended)
- Limiting your duration of use
- Stacking it with aromatizing steroids (as you will if you use testosterone as the primary) to prevent a crash of estrogen levels.
You’ll also need to watch prolactin levels with Tren. Heightened prolactin will kill your sex drive, although this issue doesn’t affect everyone who uses Tren. A prolactin antagonist will be your friend when on Tren.
We’re not through yet: There’s Winstrol to consider. Winny is famed for its excellent cutting effects. Winstrol comes in oral and injectable forms and is based on DHT. The lack of water retention makes it perfect for cutting and getting that dry, hard physique. As a bonus, it provides a strength increase and a nice boost to protein synthesis.
There are, of course, some negatives to Winstrol, such as:
- Suppressive to natural testosterone
- Toxic to the liver (in oral form)
- Negative changes to cholesterol
- It can cause joint and ligament pain and discomfort.
It’s best to use Winstrol for shorter durations or even switch it out for Masteron if you want to run it for an entire standard cycle.
Then, we have Proviron. Proviron is another compound worthy of consideration for a standard cutting cycle. It’s also a DHT-derived oral steroid, but it’s considered one of the more milder compounds.
Proviron is a steroid that has some specific uses, namely in the way it helps increase free testosterone. This makes Proviron useful for longer cycles where you want to reduce estrogen concerns, add some muscle definition, or help boost the libido. It is even included as a PCT compound because of its minimal adverse effect on luteinizing hormone and follicle-stimulating hormone.
No steroid comes without downsides, and this is what to be aware of with Proviron:
- Liver toxic; not to a considerable degree, but still a possibility
- DHT-related side effects like male pattern baldness and prostate enlargement (BPH)
Whether you use Primobolan, Winstrol, Proviron, Trenbolone, or Masteron, you will experience some nice strength gains, and you’ll benefit from minor to no water weight being added, making these secondary compounds perfect for cutting and lean mass cycles where muscle hardness and dryness is a priority.
Combining the primary and secondary compounds into a standard cycle stack makes for a powerful cycle. Still, depending on your experience level, you might consider stacking even more compounds for more significant results.
It’s important not to stack any and all steroids together randomly. You need to have a purpose! You need to know about the properties of each compound so you can determine what benefits (and downsides) each one will bring to the cycle and how different types of compounds can complement each other.
Whichever compounds you ultimately decide to stack together, you get this benefit: Higher doses, more powerful effects, and often without producing a level of side effects that would come with massively increasing the dose of just one compound.
You might want both DHT and testosterone qualities in a cycle, or you might want to construct a cycle that minimizes side effects that you’re genetically prone to, such as hair loss or high blood pressure.
Kickstarting a cycle involves making use of very fast-acting compounds. Usually, this will be orals, but some short-ester injectables are also helpful. Since we’ll usually use a slower-acting steroid (such as an enanthate or cypionate ester) as the primary compound in a standard cycle, it’s a perfect cycle length to consider a kickstart.
Think about it: Why wait weeks for results to start kicking in if you can get off to a flying start within the first few days of the cycle? While the short-acting steroid takes off, the longer-acting primary compound takes time to start delivering effects after two to three weeks.
The best oral kickstart compounds are:
Or, if you prefer injectables, you can look at:
Ancillary Compounds in Standard Cycles
Here, you can use most of the ancillary compounds that are also used on long cycles. You need to consider the cycle length, which will change how you use things like peptides here. Also, you won’t need the long-term HGH use on a 12-week cycle, but it’s helpful in enhancing gains during the cycle (as are others like IGF).
You will also find peptides useful for PCT due to their effects on performance and providing some anti-catabolic protection as well, without the negative impact on recovering your HPTA functionality.
Here’s why: You run a high risk of being in a catabolic state after a cycle and during the PCT stage because of low testosterone. This can have you losing muscle and those hard-earned gains from your cycle. So even a low dose of HGH at around 12iu per week will have great value in helping you maintain those gains.
There’s room to move with experimentation once you’re a more confident user. IGF and HGH combinations are often discussed, especially by using them on particular cycle days, such as after weight training. Higher dose HGH combined with standard doses of IGF show promising results, including improvements in gains, while it can be hit and miss to use IGF during PCT. Only through experimentation will you know what the best protocol is for you.
But here’s the kicker: If you’re going to be doing regular 12-week cycles, then your protocol for peptides is just as important as the steroids you use! Your goal will be to have new muscle fibers being created (hyperplasia) alongside an increase in muscle mass (hypertrophy). Plus, peptides and ancillaries are going to provide valuable PCT assistance, so you’ll be able to maintain more of these gains in between cycles.
Standard Cycles: Putting It All Together
There are dozens of combinations and cycle plans you can go with. Here’s just one example of a standard 12-week cycle, including ideas for beginner, moderate, and heavy users.
Basic standard cycle:
- Weeks 1-4: Dianabol 30mg daily (split into three doses)
- Weeks 1-10: Testosterone Enanthate 250mg every three days
- Weeks 8-12: Proviron 50mg daily
- Nolvadex 40mg daily for week 12, drop to 20mg daily weeks 13-15. Optionally: Tribulus for weeks 16-20.
Moderate Standard Cycle:
- Weeks 1-4: Anadrol 150mg daily (split into three doses)
- Weeks 1-12: Testosterone Enanthate 400mg every three days
- Weeks 1-9: Deca-Durabolin 200mg every three days
- Weeks 8-12: Winstrol 50mg daily
- Weeks 1-14: Arimidex 0.25mg daily (take every other day in the final two weeks)
- Weeks 12-14: HCG 5000iu every five days (twice), decrease to 2500iu every five days another two times.
- Weeks 15-17: Clomid 150mg daily for the first week, 100mg daily for the second week, and 50mg daily for the third week.
Heavy Standard Cycle:
- Weeks 1-10: Testosterone Prop 100mg daily, Masteron Prop 50mg daily, Trenbolone Acetate 100mg daily
- Weeks 1-11: Arimidex 0.5mg daily (except final week, to be taken every other day), HCG 250iu every three days. Optional: IGF-1 40mcg every other day post-workout.
- Testosterone Propionate tapered from weeks 12 to 20.
- Start at 30mg every other day for the first four weeks.
- In the final four weeks, reduce the dosage by 5mg each week.
Medium cycles are helpful when you have a specific reason for doing a cycle of this length in the 6-8 weeks timeframe. And there are two main reasons why you would run a medium-length cycle instead of a standard cycle. These are:
- Blast cycles: A medium cycle can be either a portion of a longer continuous cycle or can be used as a standalone blast cycle.
- Cutting or lean mass cycles: An intensive 6-8 week lean mass or cutting cycle where you commit to a strict diet and workout can deliver some extreme results. But this type of cycle is hard work and requires a total commitment to reap the rewards.
The idea of a medium cycle blast is to use high doses (sometimes very high doses, for experienced users only) for the short term to get quick gains, break through a plateau, and reduce side effects to a minimum from those high doses. This means you’ll be using fast-acting compounds – either orals or short-ester injectables.
Pros of Medium Cycles
You can find a lot of advantages from a medium-length cycle of 6-8 weeks, but let’s look at three upsides:
Limiting Side Effects
By limiting the amount of time you’re on steroids to no more than two months, side effects obviously have less time to develop and worsen. That doesn’t mean you will not get any side effects; some can take only days to rear their head. But things like gyno, liver toxicity, blood pressure, and so on can be limited in their severity when you’re on this shorter cycle.
You’re still likely to experience testosterone shutdown, though, unless you’re using only mild compounds. Still, you can usually get away with a shorter PCT to get testosterone levels back on track.
Optimal for Muscle Gain
A cycle of between 6 and 8 weeks is perfect for gaining muscle using orals and short-ester injectables because they start kicking in within the first few days. This means your gains come on quicker, and you can avoid hitting a wall where gains diminish or plateau, which is often the case after the 8-week mark.
Instead of slugging through a plateau, it can be better to clear the steroids out of your system after the 6-8 week period, go through a recovery period, then prepare for another cycle for more gains. With this sort of routine, you can fit in three quality medium-length cycles per year.
Medium-length cycles make it a viable option to use HCG to maintain your primary testicular function, with 6 to 8 weeks not being excessive. In fact, your FSH and LH should be able to recover relatively quickly if you use HCG at moderate dosage levels. It also results in a quick and easy Clomid or Nolvadex-based PCT of 3-4 weeks max, starting within a few days of your final injection.
Cons of Medium Cycles
Yes, you will find some downsides to medium-length cycles. But for most experienced users, these aren’t deal breakers and are just things you expect to deal with when using steroids. The two main cons of medium-length cycles are:
- Limited Selection of Steroids: You need to use steroids that will provide results within six weeks and no more than eight weeks. That means fast-acting, short-ester compounds. It means oral steroids.
- Testosterone Shutdown: When you’re a seasoned steroid user, you’ll always be prepared for significant testosterone suppression and possible shutdown, so this is no surprise.
There’s no use in using slow injectable esters that take weeks to start showing effect when you’re only running them for two months or less. So, while this limits your steroid options, there is no shortage of excellent compounds to use.
But with the use of often very suppressive compounds on these medium-length cycles, you can expect complete or close to total shutdown. This can be alleviated somewhat with the use of HCG, but PCT will still be required.
Primary Compound in Medium Cycles
There’s one dominant compound used for a 6-8 week cycle: Testosterone Propionate. Here’s why:
- Testosterone always works well
- Fast acting ester
- Balanced androgenic-anabolic ratio to avoid extreme side effects
- Libido and well-being are enhanced
- Effective for blasting and cutting
- There are minimal negative aspects besides a more painful injection and more frequent injections
Typically, you inject Test Prop daily, at anywhere from 50mg to 300mg, depending on your goals. You’re not tied into using Testosterone propionate as the primary compound – you can certainly take other approaches. This includes:
When using HCG throughout the cycle, it becomes possible to make use of other primary compounds. This is because the HCG is taking care of your base testosterone levels. In this case, you could look at a Winstrol and Trenbolone stack as the main compounds to use.
The 6-8 week cycle could be part of a much longer continuous cycle where your primary compound is a longer ester like Testosterone Enanthate or Cypionate. In this case, your medium cycle would be a blasting cycle using the faster-acting compounds.
Suppose you’re not using very suppressive compounds. In that case, you might not feel the need for a higher dose of testosterone as a primary compound (Primobolan and Anavar are two examples of milder compounds).
Some will choose a Dianabol-only cycle for six weeks, with that oral steroid not being hugely suppressive, but it does have the downside of producing a lot of water weight. This type of cycle can be done at 20mg to 100mg daily.
On the other hand, you can look at Anavar-only cycles as well as a deviation from using testosterone as the primary compound. Anavar-only 6-8 weeks cycles could be between 40mg and 100mg daily dosing, with less suppression than Dianabol. But you won’t get massive gains with Var like you can with Dbol. Anavar is superb for fat-burning and drying out the physique, though, so if that’s your goal, it’s the go-to compound.
Then there’s Primobolan to consider as the sole compound, running at anywhere from 350mg to 600mg weekly. Primo helps maintain muscle mass on a cutting diet but is likely to cause relatively high suppression at higher doses, and that’s the point where you’d also get the strength and lean mass gains. Primobolan is generally not considered the best sole compound for this length cycle because you would typically want to be using it for more than eight weeks.
Secondary Compounds in Medium Cycles
You could use just about any short injectable ester or oral steroid as a secondary compound in a 6 to 8-week cycle. The most typical choices are Anadrol, Winstrol, Trenbolone Acetate, Masteron Prop, Dianabol, and Anavar.
Cutting/Lean Mass Compounds
This type of cycle will be focused on fat-burning and adding strength. I’ll focus on NPP and Anavar here because I already covered Winstrol, Primo, Tren, and Masteron above.
Oxandrolone (Anavar) is a 17aa oral steroid that gives you an excellent strength boost with minimal size gains but also little or no water retention.
Anavar will promote fat loss and comes with some advantages for recovery. Side effects are easily controlled, with no estrogenic sides, no hair loss, and suppression is kept to a minimum. As if that’s not enough, you can get away with no PCT and often no need for any ancillary compounds at all.
But wait, let me tell you something…
Anavar is hepatotoxic but not to the same level as other orals like Dianabol. You will want to limit Anavar’s use to that 6-8 week period though, which is why it’s excellent for medium-length cycles. Doses are optimal in the range of 40mg to 100mg daily, depending on your desired goals. If you plan to stack it with any compounds that are going to suppress you anyway, it’s possible to take up to 150mg daily.
In my opinion, it’s best to use Anavar in milder cycles where you can minimize suppression while still being able to maintain your gains. And while those gains won’t be massive, they will be steady and reliable.
But there’s more:
NPP (Nandrolone phenylpropionate) is Deca-Durabolin with a short ester, so you get much the same effects as Deca, but they come on faster.
One difference many users notice is that NPP is a little weaker in its actions all over, including both the good and bad effects. So often, there are fewer gains and strength but also reduced water weight and suppression. An added bonus is joint support; for some of us, this is the main reason to add NPP to the cycle. NPP is a pretty mild compound useful in a cutting cycle, and you will find gains not challenging to maintain (potentially due to less water retention). Dosing of NPP will typically be in the 50mg to 200mg daily range.
As I’ve already detailed, blasting for size and strength is nearly identical to using Anadrol or Dianabol as a kickstart in longer cycles. What might change is your training and diet to tweak the results according to personal goals. You can’t go wrong with Dianabol or Anadrol for a blasting phase or any of the other compounds mentioned above for cutting cycles.
We can usually increase the doses a bit in a stack for a cycle of this length, but it will come down to your tolerance of each compound and the associated side effects. The main difference for stacking in this cycle is that you can use orals either on their own or as part of a stack for the whole cycle, thanks to their shorter cycle length.
You can get away with stacking orals together – for example, Anadrol and Winstrol. I still mostly prefer injectables to avoid hepatotoxicity, Anavar being one exception. But if you don’t like injecting, then orals are still a perfectly viable option.
Ancillary Compounds in Medium Cycles
You can use the same ancillary compounds as the 10-12 week cycle plans, although you won’t get some of the benefits that need a longer cycle. Fat loss from longer-term HGH use is one that comes to mind. However, you can consider adding something like Clenbuterol or even T3 (Cytomel) or T4 if you’re an advanced and confident user who really wants to ramp up fat burning.
Medium Cycles: Putting It All Together
A 6-8 week cycle can take on countless different forms. Below are just a few samples to give you an idea of what you could do. Some of these also include PCT protocol suggestions.
Mild Oral Cycle:
- Weeks 1-6: Dianabol 30mg daily (split into three doses), OR Anavar 60mg daily (split into three doses)
Mild Cutting Cycle:
- Weeks 1-6: Primobolan 200mg every three days, Winstrol 25mg daily
- Weeks 9-12: Tribulus
- Weeks 1-6: Anadrol 100mg daily (split into two), Winstrol 50mg daily (split into two)
- PCT: Nolvadex or Clomid for three weeks
Moderate Lean Mass Cycle:
- Weeks 1-8: Testosterone Prop 100mg every other day, Trenbolone Acetate 75mg every other day, Masteron Prop 50mg every other day, Arimidex 0.25mg every other day, HCG 250iu every three days
- PCT weeks 9-12: Clomid or Nolvadex
- Weeks 1-8: Testosterone Cyp 150mg every three days, Testosterone Prop 200mg daily, NPP 100mg daily, Arimidex 0.5mg daily
- Weeks 9+: Continue regular cruise cycle or TRT doses
Short cycles run for a brief period, usually just 2-3 weeks. This gives you very little time to gain the benefits of any steroid. This means such a short cycle is going to be favored by people who have specific reasons to run a cycle of this length rather than a standard cycle.
This typically includes:
Like blast cycles, you’ll want to have a good amount of steroid experience before trying this. It involves high-intensity use of steroids and other compounds combined with extreme training. This usually takes place over just two weeks.
So you go all out during that very short period, using powerful steroids and additional compounds like T3, HGH, IGF-1, and even insulin optionally. You literally over-train on a blitz cycle at the level that wouldn’t be possible to maintain much longer than two weeks. It causes a shock to the body, resulting in rapid growth. You can then continue to build on that growth once the blitz cycle ends.
Steady Gains Cycles
A short, steady gain cycle is ideal if you’re not aiming for a significant body recomposition, huge mass gains, or major fat loss. You should already be in decent shape from previous fitness work. In some cases, this sort of cycle is going to be ideal for someone who wants to achieve more subtle results without receiving the kind of attention you get from more intense steroid use.
Steady gain cycles are often repeated – so you will do two or three weeks and then take a three or four-week break before restarting another cycle. Want to know the best part? The gains will be slow, steady, and reliable, so you need patience and realistic expectations here. However, the benefits include not being exposed to severe side effects that come with higher doses and continual steroid use. This means faster recovery and more easily maintainable gains in the long run.
Although the results are very different, whether you do a short blitz or steady gains cycle, the cycle design, as well as the pros and cons of each, are going to be similar:
Pros of Short Cycles:
Minimal Side Effects and Shutdown
There’s hardly enough time for your testosterone to become suppressed on this short cycle, and you will likely find the cycle ends before the testicles begin to shrink in size. This means your levels of FSH and LH rebound quickly, and some will even find that natural testosterone INCREASES in the weeks following the cycle, resulting in some additional gains even after you’ve stopped using the steroids.
This short cycle limits the severity of side effects as there’s not enough time for them to develop to a high level. You can still see temporary issues like increased blood pressure, or if you’re using high doses, you might see early gyno development or some acne. Even using orals is not likely to cause liver toxicity.
Subtle and Gradual Gains
Are you looking to make some nice gains without people wondering if you’re on gear? There are many reasons why some of us want to do that, and it’s possible in these cycles. So, instead of gaining 20lbs in two months, you might gain that amount in around one year, which will raise a lot fewer questions from the people around you.
Everything about this cycle is consistent:
- Diet and training can remain similar all through the year
- There are no ups and downs in mood, libido, and other areas
- Your focus stays consistent, so motivation is not likely to dip, making it easier to stick with your plan and goals.
Cons of Short Cycles
There’s actually very few downsides here, but you will want to consider:
Limited steroid options
The short cycle is going to limit your selection of compounds to those of the fastest-acting types. So that’s short ester injectables and orals to get benefits within two to three weeks and prevent continued testosterone suppression post-cycle.
Limits to gains
There’s obviously a limit to how much you can realistically gain within this short time frame. How much should you reasonably expect to gain? Anywhere from just 1lbs to 3lbs is realistic in terms of pure muscle gain. If any water weight is involved, your weight might increase 10lbs or even more, but it’s mostly fluid. There’s not the time needed to fit in enough workouts and allow the body to recover and grow substantially in three weeks or less.
Compounds in Short Cycles
With a 2 to 3-week maximum time to work with, you’re unlikely to suffer from any severe testosterone shutdown, so you can choose from some of the best short-acting/fast ester injectable steroids and oral steroids, which take effect quickly. So, which injectables should you look at?
The old standard is Testosterone Prop as a primary or base compound. The effects of this short-ester version of testosterone are powerful and will show up during this short cycle. Take Testosterone Prop at 100-300mg daily, depending on your goals. Sometimes, orals will be stacked with Test Prop if you want to dose the injection at the lower end. There are several other fast-acting injectables you can consider if you want to stack something with testosterone:
- Nandrolone (NPP)
- Masteron Prop
- Trenbolone Acetate + HCG (to avoid shutdown)
NPP doses will usually be the same or less than your testosterone dose. Running NPP as a sole compound is not recommended, but it works well with testosterone.
Masteron Propionate works well with testosterone, and while it can bring about some muscle tightness, at moderate doses of no more than 75mg daily, you’ll see a nice boost to muscle hardness and strength.
Trenbolone acetate is one of the more challenging compounds you could use in this short cycle. Tren Ace is robust and works quickly, but at the same time, it’s going to be quite suppressive even during this short-term use. So, to use Tren Ace in this cycle, it’s recommended to add HCG at a low dose of around 500iu weekly (split into two administrations per week).
But there’s more: You can exclusively use orals at a higher dose for this short period of time. Favorites like Dianabol, Winstrol, Anadrol, and Anavar are all going to be effective:
- Using Dianabol alone is best done at 50mg to 100mg daily.
- Winstrol is better when stacked with Dianabol or Anadrol at up to 100mg daily.
- Anadrol on its own is dosed at 100mg to 200mg daily.
An Anavar-only cycle will deliver relatively weak results as it’s a mild steroid but could be helpful for getting through a plateau when taken at up to 120mg daily.
Stacking in these short cycles is essential since you’re already getting the maximum out of each compound. By combining them, you benefit from a higher level of androgens without necessarily increasing side effect risks. Any of the above-recommended stacks will provide satisfactory results, for example, the Dianabol and Winstrol stack.
Ancillary Compounds in Short Cycles
You won’t be as concerned about using ancillary compounds during these short cycles, but if you want to go ahead with some, you will look at the same compounds mentioned for the other longer cycles.
So how would it work? HGH would need to be taken at a high dose to make it worthwhile. Ideally, you’d combine it with IGF-1, which does better in this 2-3 week duration. You can look at T3 and insulin for the more hardcore, but only if you know what you’re doing with those compounds.
Short Cycles: Putting It All Together
As always, there are countless ways you can put together a short 2 to 3-week cycle, so these are just a few examples. In between these short cycles, you can use Clomid or Nolvadex if you’re worried about LH and FSH levels, but most of the time, they actually rebound well on their own.
Oral only: This is a two-week on, two-week off cycle. Preferably with a 4-week off break after two complete cycles:
- Weeks 1-2: Anadrol 150mg daily, Winstrol 75mg daily (split doses into three)
- Weeks 3-4: Off
- Weeks 5-6: Anadrol 150mg daily, Winstrol 75mg daily (split doses into three)
- Weeks 7-8: Off
- Weeks 9-10: Anadrol 150mg daily, Winstrol 75mg daily (split doses into three)
- Weeks 11-14: Off
Injectables only: for optimal recovery, this is a three-week on, four-week off-cycle program:
- Weeks 1-3: Testosterone Prop 75mg daily, NPP 50mg daily
- Weeks 4-7: Off
- Weeks 8-10: Testosterone Prop 75mg daily, NPP 50mg daily
- Weeks 11-14: Off
- Weeks 15-17: Testosterone Prop 75mg daily, NPP 50mg daily
- Weeks 18-25: Off
No Testosterone cycle:
- Weeks 1-2: Trenbolone Acetate 100mg daily, Winstrol 75mg daily (split into three), HCG 250iu twice weekly
- Weeks 3-4: Off
- Weeks 5-6: Trenbolone Acetate 100mg daily, Winstrol 75mg daily (split into three), HCG 250iu twice weekly
- Weeks 7-8: Off
- Weeks 9-10: Trenbolone Acetate 100mg daily, Winstrol 75mg daily (split into three), HCG 250iu twice weekly
- Weeks 11-14: Off
- Weeks 1-2: Testosterone Prop 150mg daily, Trenbolone Acetate 100mg daily, Dianabol 50mg daily (split into 3-5 administrations), HGH 2iu four times per day, IGF-1 40mcg after workout, Insulin 6iu prior to workout, 6iu after workout, T3 25mcg twice daily (continue using at tapered down dose during week 3), Letrozole 2mg daily
- Weeks 3-10: Off
What if you want to keep steroid usage on the down low?
If you’re one of the many people who want to know what sort of cycle to run when you want to keep your steroid use on the down low and keep your results more subtle.
Why do this? There are plenty of reasons, mostly revolving around attracting attention to potential steroid use, whether at work, by family and friends, or in sporting pursuits. Whatever your reasons for wanting to fly under the radar, I have two recommendations:
- 2-week cycles
These are two-weeks on, three-weeks off, two-weeks on, and four-weeks off cycles. Short-acting and fast-working compounds on a short cycle will provide small and gradual gains over time. Compounds to use include orals, Testosterone Prop, Trenbolone Acetate, Masteron Prop, and NPP.
With this short duration cycle, you can get away with taking higher doses and avoiding the worst side effects, with the main limiting factor being to avoid bloat/water retention. Considering all of the compounds together, the total dose should be within the range of 500mg to 1400mg.
You can stick to compounds that cause little to no water retention, like orals Anavar or Turinabol. Another option is a Winstrol/Anadrol low-dose stack. Dianabol is tempting to use, but it’s not one that gives more subtle results, and water retention will also be an issue.
So, what can you do about bloating?
Keeping it as minimal as possible is the goal, and you can use low doses of something like Arimidex to lower estrogen. Some people like to add a vitamin C supplement at high doses. If you can’t get AIs, Nolvadex will still relieve water retention. Diet is also essential to promote a dry physique on these cycles – high protein and good fats, plus low carbs and drinking plenty of water.
Here are the benefits of running 2-week cycles:
- Plateau breaking: Each cycle will push you further forward (as long as your training and diet are good), and you should see steady gains throughout the year, with minor or no shutdown after a two-week cycle.
- Testosterone rebound: Many guys will see an actual testosterone rebound between cycles rather than decreasing.
- Slow and steady gains: Expect to gain a few pounds on each cycle, leading to under-the-radar compounding gains over time. Most weight loss will be water or glucose that increases when you’re on-cycle.
- Short commitment: You commit to two weeks of hard work rather than 12 or more weeks on longer cycles. This keeps the motivation high and makes it easy to stick to a good eating, sleeping, and training plan.
What about the downsides:
- Daily injections: Unless you go with orals only, you’ll be injecting every day. On the upside, it’s only for two weeks.
- Small gains: If you want fast, huge gains, then you won’t get it with this cycle, but you should know that before taking it on.
- Water retention: If you only want to use orals, then the high doses will probably result in quite a lot of fluid retention.
Sample 2-week Cycles
The first two are testosterone-based cycles, with the third example having no testosterone:
Test, Anavar, and NPP cycle:
- Weeks 1-2: Testosterone Prop 75mg daily, Anavar 60mg daily, NPP 37mg daily, Arimidex 0.25mg daily
- Weeks 3-4: Nolvadex 20mg daily
Test, Masteron and Tren cycle:
- Weeks 1-2: Testosterone Prop 75mg daily, Masteron Prop: 37mg daily, Trenbolone Ace: 37mg daily, Letro: 0.25mg daily, Nolvadex: 20mg daily
- Weeks 3-4: Nolvadex 20mg daily
Tren, Anadrol and Winstrol cycle:
- Weeks 1-2: Trenbolone Ace: 75mg daily, Anadrol: 50mg daily, Winstrol: 25mg daily, HCG 100iu every other day, Nolvadex: 20mg daily
- Weeks 3-4: Nolvadex 20mg daily
If you’re not too concerned about testosterone, you can use Testosterone cypionate (a slow-acting ester), which will provide strength and size gains and some fat loss. The standard strategy is to run this Test on a steady dose with a low dose of an AI to control estrogen. Ideally, you’ll need TRT and can get this through your doctor; otherwise, obtain the same testosterone and run it without supervision.
The usual TRT dosage is between 100mg and 200mg per week of Testosterone cypionate. Arimidex at 0.25mg every three days is highly recommended. It’s best to inject twice weekly to keep your levels up. You could even run a low dose of HCG for extra support, something like 100iu every other day. You can always run something else alongside the Test, like Deca-Durabolin. Alternatively, another option is blast cycles or regular short cycles followed by TRT for cruising.
- Pharma grade: That’s if you’re eligible for TRT testosterone from your doctor (one of the reasons you’d consider doing this cycle). Pharma grade Test is the ultimate quality, plus you get the benefit of not having to explain why you’re using steroids.
- Continual progress: TRT is a longer-term strategy, and as long as you’re sticking with a decent diet and exercise, your gains should be continual, allowing you to do it with little attention (no sudden huge gains).
- Long-term: You must prepare to commit for a long time; if it’s genuine medical TRT, it’s most likely a permanent lifelong commitment.
- Difficult to stop: Most guys want to stay on the TRT cycle because stopping it causes many negative issues. This means thinking carefully about starting TRT before jumping in.
- No huge gains: The point of the TRT cycle isn’t to get dramatic, massive gains within weeks or months, so if that’s what you’re after, you’ll want to look at some of the other cycle options detailed above.
Example of TRT:
- Week 1 onward (no specific end date): Testosterone Cypionate 300mg weekly (injected twice weekly), Arimidex 0.25mg every three days
- Optionally, include an additional compound. E.g: Deca-Durabolin 200mg weekly or Masteron 200mg weekly.
Final Thoughts on the Cycles Part
So, here’s the deal: Different approaches are going to work for different people. That’s why I provided various cycle lengths and example cycle ideas. Some of you might find that the 2-week cycles give the best results, but others want to go for much longer cycles or even year-round steroid use. The information here shows you how to do just about any type of cycle, including mixing or combining the different cycle ideas.
What about the doses, you might be asking?
Consider there to be an accepted dosage range for most of the compounds, depending on your experience level. The goal is to avoid diminishing returns by taking too high of a dose of anything, tilting the scales so the side effects outweigh the positives.
It also comes down to your personal tolerance level! If you’re like me, you might feel horrible on high-dose Testosterone (1000mg weekly, for example). Then there are guys who use more than 3000mg of steroids per week (not recommended). The main point is that using those high doses works for them, but it doesn’t make any sense to me. With experience, you get to work out what gives YOU the best results, but it goes without saying that no one should be starting out with big doses.
If you’re committed to using injectable steroids for a full cycle, you’ll need to stock up on all the basic necessities:
- Syringes: 3ml or 3cc, or 5ml/5cc are the most common syringe sizes or capacities
- Pins: the “standard” needle is 22 gauge, 1.5 inch
- Other supplies: alcohol swaps, band-aids…
Being familiar with the necessary supplies and how to use them properly will give you the confidence you need to proceed with injecting.
I recommend becoming familiar with at least three different injection sites to start with.
Firstly, you need to rotate them regularly. Secondly, you might find you don’t like injecting in a particular spot, so you’ll want to be able to switch as needed efficiently.
Let’s look at all the recommended intramuscular steroid injection sites:
- Quads – On the upside, it’s a prominent spot on the outer quad, but it can be a painful injection site, and hitting a nerve is possible. You should be able to do up to 3cc or ml here.
- Lats are typically one of the least painful injection sites, but you’ll want a good lat size to make this a viable site, and 1.5cc or ml is usually the max injection volume here.
- Delts – The size of your delts will determine if you prefer this spot (larger and softer being more accessible). You can move the site around, e.g., the rear, middle, and front. Most guys will find 1.5cc or ml is the most comfortable amount here.
- Dorsolgluteal – or in other words, at the top of your butt cheek. This is a large muscle, so it’s one of the more accessible spots to get a needle into, but it can be difficult if you have flexibility issues. Most of us can inject up to 3cc or ml in this area.
- Ventrogluteal – This is a much smaller area located on the central part of the hip where there are thick muscles and fewer nerves and blood vessels, often thought of as the safest injection site. It’s only a tiny area compared to the dorsolgluteal, so you’ll want to be confident before trying it here.
- Biceps – It’s best to inject into the middle of the bicep and avoid the inner bicep region with more nerves. You will mostly want to stick to a 1cc volume here.
- Triceps – also limited to about 1cc, injected into the middle of the tricep. Both biceps and triceps are considered more advanced injecting sites.
- Calves – The calf isn’t a common injecting site, but some seem to like it despite it being more painful than most other spots.
Avoid these spots: Two areas to give a miss for injecting are the inside of the thighs (inner quads) and the hamstrings due to the amount of nerves in these areas.
Quick tips to reduce injecting pain
- Get your muscles relaxed before injecting – it makes it much easier and reduces the risk of damage.
- Avoid making a pocket by sticking to slower injecting techniques, allowing the muscle to absorb the solution properly.
- Ensure you inject deep into the muscle for better absorption; avoid any oil being injected into the subcutaneous level.
- Slightly heat the steroid before injections; briefly hold it under warm water.
- Gently massage the injection site once you’re done.
- Ice the site if the pain persists.
- Regularly rotate sites – ideally, each injection spot should have a break of 7-14 days after each shot.
Injecting is daunting for any first-time user. Here’s an idea of my protocol when I first started out:
- Use alcohol to clean the top of multi-dose vials.
- Pull the maximum amount of air into the syringe, upturn the vial, and insert the needle, inject that air into the vial.
- Keep the vial upside down with the needle tip below the liquid level, slowly pull the plunger back, and draw your dosage into the syringe.
- Replace the needle.
- Use a new alcohol swab to clean the injection area.
- Relax your injecting site muscle and use your fingers to stretch out and tighten the skin where you’ll inject. Hold the needle with your thumb and forefinger and insert it at a 90-degree angle to the muscle, to the end of the needle.
- Pull back the plunger a small amount and check for blood to ensure you haven’t hit a vein.
- Use a steady and slow pressure to push down the syringe plunger until it’s empty.
- Pull the needle out quickly and apply a new alcohol pad with pressure to the injection spot.
- Apply a clean bandage and safely dispose of the syringe and all other materials.
That’s it! You’ve now completed your first injection procedure in a safe and hygienic way.
Steroid Side Effects
You can’t use steroids without considering the side effects. And it’s true that steroids can come with some really serious side effects. These will affect everyone differently; many will be heavily dependent on dose. Some will depend entirely on genetics.
So what should you expect? There are definitely some “common” side effects that most steroid users will deal with at some point, and to some level of severity ranging from mild to severe.
You can place the side effects into general categories:
- Androgenic: Acne and hair loss are the main ones. Genetics plays a big part. DHT and testosterone steroids are most likely to bring on hair loss if you’re genetically inclined.
- Estrogenic: Gyno and water retention will also ruin your physique and cause health risks (blood pressure). Higher doses present a higher risk, but sensitive guys can have gyno develop at low doses. Arimidex and Nolvadex are practical tools to combat these sides.
- Testosterone suppression: Prepare to have your natural test shut down at anything near or above the TRT dose (200mg, for example). Running HCG can help, but PCT is vital to get your test back on track.
- Cardiovascular: Some cardio-related adverse effects will be caused by estrogenic activity, namely water retention that some steroids induce, which can raise your blood pressure. Some compounds will reduce HDL cholesterol and/or raise LDL cholesterol, raising heart disease and stroke risk.
- Liver toxicity: Stress to the liver is likely when using oral steroids of the 17a-alkylated type (most of them). These steroids pass through your liver and will result in changes to liver enzyme values. Avoid serious liver toxicity risks by limiting the use of hepatotoxic compounds to no more than six weeks.
There’s the estrogenic and androgenic side effects. Then there’s the impact on testosterone production. We have cardiovascular-related side effects, liver toxicity, and impacts on mood and well-being. It’s worth repeating: No two people will have the same side effect experience, even if you’re taking the same steroid at the same dose for the same cycle length.
Plenty of variables will play a role in how you respond to a steroid. Things like:
- Your age
- Any existing health conditions
- Current weight or body condition
- Duration of use
What about females who use anabolic steroids? Few steroids are suitable for use by women, but any woman who takes a potent androgen is at high risk of developing side effects like:
- Deepened voice
- Body and facial hair growth
- Clitoral enlargement
- Changes to menstrual cycles
- Reduced breast size
Health, Legal, and Financial Issues
The health risks of anabolic steroid use apply to all of us – no matter where you live in the world. The financial risks are going to vary quite a bit depending on the local availability of the different compounds you want to use. Some steroids are surprisingly cheap, but others can run you into thousands of dollars for one cycle. And the legal risks?
These can be serious in a lot of countries. Take the United States: Anabolic steroids are listed as a Schedule 3 drug in the US. This puts them in the same restricted category as things like codeine/aspirin mixes, ketamine, and the opioid Buprenorphine.
Think about it: We know that anabolic steroids have severe health and legal risks. Yet thousands of people continue using them every day. I feel obliged to at least inform you of the risks of steroids, in particular relating to:
Author Note: This is NOT expert advice – I’m not a doctor or lawyer. Always do your own due diligence before deciding to use steroids or any other prohibited substances.
It’s never safe or healthy to use high doses of steroids beyond the normal levels of testosterone your body typically produces (if you are male). More so, using steroids for a long duration raises the risk. But higher doses for long periods of time (several months usually) is what we like to do to make progress. And it doesn’t stop there.
Some steroids are definitely harsher than others. Orals, for example, come with that well-known risk to the liver, so it’s out of the question to use them for a longer duration. Blood pressure and cholesterol increases are some of the other significant risk factors for regular and high-dose steroid use.
The fact is this: Everyone has a different tolerance level and response to any drug. Steroids included. So, whether a specific dosage causes you complications can be very different for the next person. In other words, don’t just blindly copy what someone else is taking. Only YOU can decide if taking any steroid is worth the health risk.
You’re an adult, and as adults, we take responsibility for our own health. But there are some basic precautions to take that can at least reduce the health risks somewhat:
- Please don’t exceed the recommended dosages for each specific compound (ideally, keep it at the mid-range level).
- Avoid higher doses and long-duration cycles.
- Include anti-estrogens like Clomid or Arimidex to reduce gyno and bloating, which in turn helps avoid high blood pressure.
- Don’t use steroids at all if you have liver or cardiovascular-related health conditions.
- Pay attention to your body – switch compounds if something makes you feel terrible.
In most countries, including the US, possessing, buying, selling, or using anabolic steroids without a doctor’s prescription is not legal. Check with your local laws to find out the specifics, and you will find some countries are quite lenient or even permissive of steroid use. While it’s not common for steroid users in the US to get caught out and prosecuted for using gear, just be aware that the possibility is always there.
So, what can you do to keep your steroid use as discreet as possible? Well, most of us buy through websites these days, many of which are based overseas. That means you’re receiving steroids through the mail. They could be intercepted at any point. Penalties could range from a warning to a hefty fine to going to court and potentially jail. Again, the risks are purely dependent on your country of residence!
The best bet is to get involved in the community, including steroid users, most of whom probably aren’t openly boasting about using gear. Private chats and forums will help you learn the best and safest way of buying steroids to minimize legal complications.
One of the most significant financial risks of buying steroids is when you don’t receive them; you either receive fakes or get nothing. Yes, scams can happen. But by sticking with known, reputable, and trusted sources, you should be able to remain confident that you won’t be throwing money at scammers or counterfeiters.
You can also lose money if your incoming package gets stopped at customs or anywhere else along the shipping line before it gets to you. But worse than losing money, in that case, is being caught buying steroids illegally (see the legal section above).
There’s no easy answer to being 100% sure that you’ll never run into financial issues when buying steroids (like losing your money to fraudsters) besides limiting yourself to only purchasing gear from local gym dealers whom you trust. But with the popularity of online sales, few people are selling steroids that way these days.
And when you do find someone local who’s selling, guess what? They’ve usually marked the price up so much you could have bought twice the amount from a good online source. Any regular steroid use is most likely to run you into a couple of thousand dollars annually, at least. Budget for a lot more if you’re going for the really pricey compounds and minimizing your use of ancillary compounds.
So many guys are itching to do steroids. There’s nothing wrong with enthusiasm, but diving in with zero knowledge or idea of what could go wrong, let alone HOW you should be using steroids, is going to turn your steroid experience into a living nightmare. Believe me… I almost went there myself.
So, what I’ve provided above is a guideline only to be used as an essential guide. I’m often finding new and better ways to do things, like changing doses slightly or the timing of doses and so on. These specifics are actions we can only really experiment with ourselves, and TAKE NOTE of the pros and cons of everything you try.
People will always find different ways of doing something; this is just one person’s opinion. So please use this information as a guide and for inspiration for creating your own cycles and strategies, but don’t take it as the final word that you need to stick to 100%.
- SARMs 101: The Ultimate Guide for Bodybuilders and Athletes
- PEDs for Women 101: The How-To Guide
- Post Cycle Therapy 101: The Ultimate Guide for PED Users
— Furious Joe