Testosterone and Conforming to Popular Opinion
by Mike Arnold
Much has changed over the years in the area of steroid cycles, with every generation showcasing its own ideas of what constitutes the “proper” way to cycle. With each passing generation, the tendency is to proclaim its own opinions and ideas as superior to the one before it. While it is true that we are constantly learning, not everything which presents itself as popular opinion is necessarily “better” and in the minds of some, we may even adopt a flawed or inferior approach in exchange for older ways of thinking.
This is particularly evident in the area of steroid cycle design, with dramatic changes having taken place over the last couple of decades. One of the most notable of these changes is testosterone’s rise to prominence in the cycles of today’s AAS using BB’rs. It is now commonplace to see everyone from beginners to advanced athletes using testosterone in abundance, regardless of whether this approach is the most suitable for the individual’s goals. Testosterone has become the cornerstone; the default drug from which the average steroid cycle is constructed. Rarely is this approach questioned and to do so will inevitably bring forth a round of scolding from the die-hard testosterone pundits who proclaim the drug to be the answer for nearly everything. There are numerous legitimate reasons why testosterone has assumed its current role of leadership, but in spite of all the benefits this drug has to offer, a strong argument can be raised as to why the current point of view is partially misguided.
Prior to testosterone becoming the go-to steroid, many chose to forego it completely when deciding which steroids would become a part of their cycle, instead selecting other anabolics for this purpose. Back in the 60’s, 70’s, and even 80’s, many BB’rs simply did not believe testosterone was necessary, or even ideal, when it came to which steroids were the best suited for bodybuilding. Old-school classics, such as the “Deca-D-bol” stack, adequately portrayed the mentality of the day. After all, it was Dan Duchaine himself who stated in the original Underground Steroid Handbook that “If someone can’t grow on Deca and D-bol, they won’t grow on anything”. Other AAS, such as Winstrol, Anavar, Anadrol, Primobolan, and Boldenone were also some of the heavy-hitters of generations past and were regularly utilized in the absence of testosterone.
While testosterone may have played a lesser role in the cycles of yester-year, this is not to say that the BB’rs from back then were not aware of its muscle-building effects or that it was never included in their cycles. Testosterone was used, with some BB’rs using substantial amounts, but what BB’rs of past generations considered to be important often conflicted with the opinions of today. Because of this difference in opinion, the consensus regarding which steroids were best suited for a cycle varied quite a bit. It is with this in mind that we will explore some of today’s most commonly held AAS myths, such as the belief that testosterone must always be included in every cycle and/or form the base of each cycle. Additionally, we will look at the fallacy which states that testosterone must be administered in certain “ratios” or amounts when used in conjunction with other steroids, but first let us take a look at why testosterone maintains its current status at the top of the pecking order.
When comparing the BB’rs of today against our past greats, the first thing that becomes apparent is the size difference. Size has always ruled the day in BB’ing, although some would say it holds more weight in the eyes of the judges than ever before. This may be true, but regardless, we cannot deny that today’s BB’rs are massively developed and one of the primary factors responsible for this massive increase in size is testosterone…and lots of it.
In gyms across the country, testosterone is proclaimed as king. It is not uncommon to see non-competitive gym rats administering 2 or more grams of testosterone per week, in an attempt emulate their BB’ing idols, and in the upper-competitive ranks, some BB’rs will use even more than that. There is no doubt that testosterone is effective in the acquisition of muscle mass, as it delivers a potent myotropic effect, surpassing that of many other steroids, but this is not the predominant reason why testosterone was chosen as today’s #1 mass-builder. The allure of testosterone comes primarily from its ability to be used in very large dosages without causing the BB’r to incur any significant organ stress, while also exhibiting a relative lack of unbearable or extremely bothersome side effects at these larger dosages, and also because of its compatibility with male physiology.
With many other steroids, once the user surpasses a certain dosing threshold, it is very common to encounter side effects which most users deem unacceptable. Hypothetically speaking, if these side effects were to remain absent when dosing these other AAS equivalently, amazing results in muscle growth could be achieved (example: imagine being able to use 2 grams of SD or M1T per week!!!). This point illustrates the fact that testosterone was chosen as much for its ability to be used at these higher dosages safely and without encountering serious side effects, as it was for its muscle-building benefits.
One argument alive today, which is in opposition to the “testosterone at all costs” mentality and a throwback to the golden days of the sport, is the point of view which proclaims that testosterone should not automatically assume the role of base steroid, but should be implemented in accordance with the individuals goals. In the following paragraph, how many times have we seen a similar scenario play out on the BB’ing forums:
“Hi, I am 24 years old and want to begin using steroids. I have been training hard for 7 years and my diet is excellent. I am looking to gain only lean muscle with minimal water retention. My hair and skin is important to me, as I do fitness modeling on the side, so I don’t want to use anything which causes hair loss. I also want to avoid steroids which are prone to causing acne or oily skin. I have read that testosterone often causes these side effects, so I am looking for an alternative. Can someone please help me construct a cycle based on my goals? Please feel free to ask any further questions for clarification.”
Almost inevitably, we will see a barrage of responses stating something akin to the following:
• “Testosterone alone should be everyone’s 1st cycle”…….
• “Bro, if you’re not ready for testosterone, you’re not ready to cycle”….…
• “Testosterone should be your base steroid. It isn’t good to use steroids without testosterone, unless you want problems”…….
• ”Stop being a pussy bro, if you can’t deal with some hair loss, you’re not ready for AAS”…….
• ”You need to do some research!”…….
• “Testosterone is critical for normal male functioning. It needs to be a significant part of every cycle”…….
• “You can’t make good gains without testosterone”…….
This mentality is more rampant than ever before and while the testosterone pundits often bring several valid points to the table, they are often guilty of overlooking the basic reason behind why we all use steroids in the first place, which is our desire to look or perform in a “certain” way. Instead of catering to this most basic purpose, many individuals with well-meaning intentions often push their own opinions and ideals on others as either fact or necessity, when it reality their beliefs are usually neither of these things. Barring potential health related concerns, proper cycle design is contingent on adherence to the personal wants and desires of the user, not on the preconceived ideas of another, who may have conflicting beliefs regarding what is important.
When constructing a cycle, the BB’r should know exactly what he wants to achieve, as this is the foundation from which the cycle’s compounds will be selected. Additionally, the BB’r should thoroughly educate himself on the compounds which are appropriate for his goals, in order to ensure that he selects the best AAS for the job. Once these objectives are met, he can begin constructing his cycle.
Let’s refer back to the example of the 24 year old BB’r I spoke about above and look at 2 different cycle set-ups which might be suitable for his goals. One cycle will be designed using the conventional guidelines of today…and the other will be designed with complete disregard to the “rules” we are told to follow.
Cycle #1 (modern/testosterone based)
Weeks 1-12: Test prop @ 600 mg/week.
Weeks 1-10: EQ @ 600 mg/week.
Weeks 1-12: T-bol @ 50 mg/day.
Weeks 1-12: Aromasin @ 25 mg/day.
Cycle #2 (goal based)
Weeks 1-12: Primobolan @ 1,000 mg/week.
Weeks 1-12: Test prop @ 100 mg/week (added in at week 3-4).
Weeks 1-12: Anavar @ 50 mg/day.
Weeks 1-12: Aromasin @ 10 mg/day.
As you can see, Cycle #1 looks like something we might find on any BB’ing forum today. It is a good cycle and will yield solid results, but it is far from ideal for the BB’r used in the example. Let’s look at how both a testosterone proponent and a non-conformist might justify these cycles in light of the BB’rs goals.
Testosterone proponent: First of all, testosterone at that dose is very likely to increase oil production and therefore, the possibility of acne. It is also capable of initiating hair-loss in those that are prone and will cause water retention through both aromatization and an alteration in electrolytes. However, the cycle-builder justifies his choice by keeping the dose on the “lower” side and utilizing the prop ester, as it is the least water retentive of all the testosterone esters. When asked why he chose testosterone as the primary drug in the first place, his response is “Well…because it’s testosterone and you have to have some testosterone in every cycle”. EQ was chosen because it supplies a weaker androgenic component than other cutting drugs, such as Trenbolone and therefore, is less likely to cause hair-loss, acne, or oily skin. However, EQ is still about 50% as androgenic as testosterone and also aromatizes at about half the rate of testosterone, so the possibility of these side effects is moderate. T-bol, being a fairly weak androgen, was a good choice, but there are better options. Lastly, Aromasin was added to help reduce the water retention which will most assuredly accompany the testosterone usage.
Non-conformist: In this cycle, the cycle-builder chose some of the most ideal compounds possible in light of the BB’rs goals. Primobolan was selected as the base steroid, as it is an exceptionally weak androgen and unlikely to cause any meaningful degree of hair-loss, acne, or oily skin, even at a dosage of 1 gram weekly. It also lacks the ability to aromatize, so water retention is a non-issue. In fact, with Primobolan’s anti-estrogenic effects, it will help dry the user out, assisting the BB’rs in achieving his goals. Test prop was added in at 100 mg per week, starting in week 3-4, as it takes a few weeks for endogenous Test production to sink to deficient levels. This will help the BB’r maintain normal male functioning without bumping T levels into the supraphysiological range. Anavar was chosen because it is a very weak androgen and directly contributes to the BB’rs goals. This drug will not cause any water retention, but will have the opposite effect, helping the user to harden up and dry out. Hair-loss, oily skin, or acne is almost always a non-issue with this drug. Due to the very low dose of test prop and the anti-estrogenic effect of Primo, Aromasin is dosed a bit lower than cycle #1.
The sad truth is that Cycle #1 would likely be advised over Cycle #2 by many who post on today’s BB’ing forums, even in spite of the BB’rs goals listed above. Now, before anyone labels me as anti-testosterone, I want to definitively state that this is a million miles away from the truth. I LOVE testosterone, but I also don’t care that testosterone has been mostly responsible for me losing 50% of my hair, for making me hold some water (even with an AI), and for causing me to break-out worse than normal every time I use it. However, for those who do care about these side effects, testosterone might not be the best base steroid for them.
In closing, let’s look at one last myth which has invaded our BB’ing forums over the last few years, which is that testosterone should be used in certain “ratios” when combined with other drugs. How many times have we heard that Test should always be dosed higher than Deca or Tren…or even that specific ratios, such as 60:40, should always be used? The problem with these predetermined ratios is that everyone responds differently and our personal response alone will determine what our ideal ratios are. Some guys can get away with using only a maintenance dose of Test while using large amounts of Deca and not experience any problems at all. Other guys will be struck with sexual dysfunction when using only small amount of Deca, regardless of how much testosterone they use along with it. It is the same with Tren.
I mention these 2 steroids only because they are the most likely to cause problems in the sexual functioning department, but the same principle applies to any steroid. There are no set ratios for any combination of AAS. Therefore, we should not blindly accept what is pushed on us, especially when there is no verifiable research to confirm such claims. Personal response will determine what ratios we are able to work within, and this knowledge can only be obtained through experimentation leading to personal experience. In other words, you won’t know until you try.
So, if you have been of those people who have been blindly conforming to popular opinion, I advise you to step back and view your next cycle from a new paradigm, using proven information along with your own goals & desires to construct your next cycle. In doing so, whether you decide that a mega-dosed Test cycle is right for you….or a cycle that utilizes only a maintenance dose of Test is best, you can be assured that your cycle will reflect what is important to you, not that which is important to someone else.