Ok guys, in the last two parts of this article series, we covered what I believe should be 99% of the anabolic steroids you’ll ever need to achieve your goals. If you’re looking to be Mr. Olympia, then that may not apply, but most of the rest of us will do quite well with those already covered. Another group that was included previously is the athlete/powerlifter, who is more concerned with performance than physique changes. In this article, I’ll cover a couple of steroids that may be useful to those guys, and we’ll also go over all the basics of ancillary drug use to minimize those nasty side effects that some AAS can cause.
The Complete Idiots Guide to Anabolic Steroids Part IV
To be honest, I almost put Anadrol in the third part of this series with other commonly used bodybuilding steroids, as it’s often used in that manner. Putting it here is probably showing my personal bias in not liking it much when compared to other orals such as Dianabol. In keeping with my KISS approach to steroid cycles, I’d avoid it for bodybuilding purposes, but it may have a place in strength athlete or powerlifters’ arsenal. We’ll get to why that is in just a bit.
Anadrol, sometimes referred to as “A-bombs”, is a 17-alkylated oral steroid that is very similar in action to Dianabol. It’s strongly androgenic and moderately anabolic. It seems to work primarily through non-androgen receptor mediated mechanisms as it’s been shown to have poor affinity for the androgen receptor. If you’re going to use it for bodybuilding purposes, it would best be stacked with a stronger activator of the androgen receptor for a synergistic effect.
Like Dianabol, Anadrol causes a good deal of strength gains along with gains in muscle mass. Both can cause similar side effects, such as liver toxicity because of the 17-alkylation. For that reason, cycles are best kept short (4-6 weeks normally) and liver protective agents should be used throughout (milk thistle, r-ala). One major difference is that Anadrol does not aromatize to estrogen products, but it can cause gynecomastia. Not making sense? Well, gynecomastia is commonly known as a side effect of increased estrogen, but it can also be cause by drugs that are progestagenic, or similar to the female hormone progesterone. Gynecomastia caused by progestagenic drugs does not respond to anti-estrogens, both in prevention and in treatment. Interestingly, it has been noted that Anadrol doesn’t tend to cause gynecomastia in the presence of non-aromatizing drugs, but does so when stacked with drugs that can aromatize. The mechanism behind this is unclear at the moment, but it is likely a non-progestagenic mechanism in addition to the inherent progestagenic properties of Anadrol.
So why do I classify this as a “performance” drug rather than a bodybuilding drug? It’s mostly just my opinion. Honestly, you could use it for bodybuilding purposes as well, but I think Dianabol is a better choice, as it tends to give the same effects with fewer side effects. Anadrol also has a reputation among some for increasing aggression in the user, even more so than anything we’ve talked about so far. This is particularly useful to those in the martial arts, strength competitors, and powerlifters. The same increased aggression that may get the rest of us in trouble may help these individuals psych themselves up for whatever it is they’re doing.
Typical dosages are 25-150mg per day, usually divided into several doses much like Dianabol. Side effects mirror those of Dianabol as well, including worsening of male pattern baldness, acne, bloating/water retention, elevation of liver enzymes, and elevation of blood pressure in addition to the side effects we’ve already spoken of.
So, speaking of aggression, we come to Halotestin which may be near the top of aggression producing AAS. In fact, I would never recommend Halotestin to a bodybuilder, as it has numerous side effects and, as stated before with Anadrol, you can get the same wanted effects with Dianabol.
Halotestin is a 17-alkylated oral steroid that is strongly androgenic with mild to moderate anabolic properties. It is another drug that does not aromatize, so anti-estrogens are not needed if used alone. It is, however, strongly reduced by 5-alpha reductase, and the effects are seen in those tissues that contain the majority of that enzyme, namely the scalp, skin, and prostate. Knowing that, one should expect worsening of male pattern baldness, acne, and prostate hypertrophy as predominant side effects. Others include those associated with all strongly androgenic AAS, including elevation of blood pressure, water retention, and increased aggression. Like Anadrol, Halotestin is often taken merely for the aggression increasing effects by performance athletes.
All of this comes at a price, of course. As with any 17-alkylated drug, elevation of liver enzymes and potential liver toxicity are potential side effects. This seems even more pronounced with Halotestin. As such, cycles should be kept to roughly 4-6 weeks with adequate liver protective agents being taken throughout. Typical dosages are 10-40mg per day.
There is much debate these days about ancillary drugs and their use during a cycle, but like everything else I’m presenting to you, I’ll keep it simple. Minutia can be covered later, as 99% of what you need to know is the basics. What’s worked for loads of people over the years isn’t going to change because of what some guru says on the internet. With that, let’s get to the nuts and bolts of ancillary drugs.
Clomid (Clomiphene citrate)
Clomid is a drug that is used by women for fertility purposes. “Whoa Norton, I don’t want to get pregnant!” Hold your horses, big boy. What we’ve found is that the mechanism through which it accomplishes this is useful in preventing estrogenic side effects and in stimulating endogenous testosterone production.
Clomid belongs to a class of drugs called Selective Estrogen Receptor Modulators (SERM’s). It is a mixed agonist/antagonist, as it acts in a pro-estrogenic manner in some cells and as an anti-estrogen in others. Luckily for us, it does both of these in the appropriate tissues that we’d like it to.
Without getting into too much detail, there are a few points that explain why this occurs that are relevant. There are two different kinds of estrogen receptors, alpha and beta. Clomid is an agonist at the alpha receptors and an antagonist at the beta receptors. Do you care about this? Maybe not, but the relevant point is that, through these mechanisms, Clomid serves as an anti-estrogen in those tissues that need it most when using AAS, namely breast tissue to prevent gynecomastia (if mediated by pro-estrogenic effects), the hypothalamus to stimulate natural testosterone production, and fat to improve body composition and decrease estrogenic fat deposition. Clomid is pro-estrogenic in bone, which is a good thing, as it increases bone density. It can also improve your lipid profile by acting as an estrogenic agonist in the liver.
So decreasing side effects is good, but as I mentioned briefly above, it’s also used to stimulate natural testosterone production at the end of a cycle when endogenous testosterone is highly suppressed. It does this by binding to estrogen receptors just as estrogen does, but it does so in a slightly different configuration, preventing estrogen from binding to that site. So how exactly can it act as a mixed agonist/antagonist? Several cofactors are required to bind to the estrogen receptor as well as estrogen to fully agonize the receptor. When Clomid is bound, some cofactors can still bind, and some cannot. You can probably guess now that in tissues where they can bind, selective agonist activity occurs, and the opposite occurs in tissues where they cannot bind. Since it is an antagonist in the hypothalamus, it informs the body that you have low levels of circulating estrogen. Your body responds with a surge of luteinizing hormone which is responsible for both estrogen and testosterone production in the respective sexes.
Here’s the bottom line if you didn’t quite grasp the above. Clomid acts appropriately in the tissues we’d like to minimize bad side effects and maximize good effects in, and it is useful in stimulating natural testosterone production when a cycle is done.
The usual dose, if used during the cycle to prevent side effects, is 50mg per day. If used after the cycle is complete, a brief frontload is in order to get blood levels up to where you’d like them to be. 200-300mg on day one of your post cycle therapy, followed by 50mg per day for several weeks depending on the half-life of the steroid used, is a normal dosage.
Side effects can include any estrogenic side effects. Think menopause here. Hot flashes, dizziness, nausea, and vomiting are possibilities. One side effect commonly associated with Clomid is blurry vision. All of these disappear when the Clomid is discontinued.
Nolvadex (Tamoxifen citrate)
This is where I’m supposed to go into a big, long spiel about Nolvadex. I’ll save you the trouble, as it’s extremely similar to Clomid. You’ll hear differently from people all over the internet, as some prefer one over the other, but they’re essentially the same and can be used similarly, with one exception.
Common wisdom has it that you should keep some Nolvadex on hand during a cycle if you’re prone to gynecomastia. Anecdotal evidence seems to point to this being a good practice. If you start noticing sore nipples or some swelling, the usual dosage is 40-80mg per day for either two weeks or until you see resolution of the symptoms. I’d suggest, however, that you stay on the length of your cycle. If you were prone to gyno the first time, you’ll be prone again once you’re off your Nolvadex.
The usual dose for side effect prevention during your cycle is 10-20mg per day, and post cycle for testosterone stimulation is similar. Some of these doses are personal preference, as the higher doses tend to affect mood more. Trial and error starting at the higher doses seems to work best for most people.
Arimidex is a no-brainer of a drug. Remember this nasty aromatase enzyme we’ve been talking about that converts your wonderful testosterone into estrogen? Well, Arimidex is an anti-aromatase, and effectively prevents this conversion from taking place. Don’t want any estrogenic side effects? Prevent estrogen from being formed in the first place. Now, there are consequences to this, as some estrogen is beneficial and having extremely low estrogen levels comes with its own set of side effects, namely depressed mood. Keeping that in mind, we’d like to inhibit conversion of AAS to their estrogenic counterparts but not shut it down completely. Again, trial and error with dosages seems to be the best way to do this.
It’s hard to say what a usual dose or arimidex is, as people range widely in what they use. It’s also based on how many aromatizing drugs you’re using. I’ve seen anywhere from 0.125mg per day to 1mg per day being used. I’ve also seen it used every day to every third day. A good starting dose for 500mg of testosterone per week is 0.25mg per day with adjustments up or down accordingly. Similarly, twice the dosage of testosterone calls for twice the dosage of Arimidex. If you start to notice too much bloat/water retention (which seems to be the first side effect most people experience with higher doses of testosterone), then increase your dosage of Arimidex. If that solves it, then stick with that dose and use that dose in the future. If you’re starting to feel down all the time (which you absolutely should NOT be feeling on testosterone or a similar AAS), then decrease your dose until your mood improves. If you can’t balance the two, then perhaps Arimidex isn’t for you, and you should stick to the SERM’s, like Clomid and Nolvadex.
One major drawback to Arimidex is price. It’s a rather pricy drug at the moment and certainly more expensive than Clomid or Nolvadex. Newer aromatase inhibitors are coming out, such as Femara (Letrozole), but they are similarly priced, at least for now.
Finasteride (Proscar, Propecia)
Finasteride is another drug that doesn’t need a long write-up as it’s used by the general medical community for the same purposes we want to use it for, namely hair loss and to prevent prostatic hypertrophy. Side effects from AAS being converted to other compounds in the body were mediated by two major enzymes, aromatase and 5-alpha reductase. We took care of the aromatase with an aromatase inhibitor like Arimidex. Now we come to a 5-alpha reductase inhibitor, finasteride. There are newer (and perhaps better) drugs in this class, but finasteride is the most widely available and cheapest at the time being.
For it being such a useful drug, there isn’t much to say about finasteride. If you’re prone to male pattern baldness, DHT and other 5-alpha reduced compounds will exacerbate that problem. Blocking the conversion solves that problem for the most part.
Proscar is the 5mg version of finasteride, while Propecia is the 1mg version. They usually run about the same price, so cutting a Proscar into four pieces of 1.25mg each with a pill cutter is much more cost efficient. I would recommend taking 1.25mg per day throughout a cycle if wanting to minimize hair loss and prostate symptoms.
We’re almost done with this series, as we’ve now covered the groundwork for designing safe, effective AAS cycles. In the next installment, we’ll put it all together and lay out some sample cycles, as well as providing a framework for you to put together your own. My goal in doing this series was not for me to design cycles for people, but to give people the information they need to do it themselves. By the time this is done, hopefully that will be achieved!
The Complete Idiots Guide to Anabolic Steroids Part V
We finally come to the conclusion of our beginners’ series on anabolic steroids, and I have something to share with you. Despite the fact that it’s taken several months and four prior articles in the series, it’s not all that complicated. In fact, you could probably skip the first four parts and just read this one, and you’d do just fine. I don’t suggest that, however, as I believe you should fully educate yourself about what you’re going to be putting into your body. If you’ve read the first four parts and spent any time on the internet doing your own research, you may not even need to read this article. Hopefully you’ve gained enough knowledge on your own to formulate safe, sane, and effective cycles. In this article, I’ll present a basic framework of constructing a cycle and give some examples of what I’m talking about after that. This will be a fairly short article, as we’ll skip over the details and just go over practical stuff.
Basic cycle structure
So where exactly do we begin? Well, testosterone is a great base for just about any cycle you want to do. You can add mass, you can cut, you can gain strength on test. You can do effective cycles of test alone and be very happy with it. If you’re a beginner, and you’re not going to be injecting very frequently with other drugs, then you’ll want to choose an ester with a long half-life, such as cypionate or enanthate, so that you’ll only have to inject once every 5-7 days. If you do choose something with a long half-life, you should definitely do a proper frontload to get your blood levels up to where they need to be. For people who are injecting more frequently, you can use an every day or every other day ester such as propionate, and you have no need for a frontload.
So what’s the difference between using a long lasting ester and a short one? Not much. The short acting test will be out of your system faster so, if you’re being tested for any reason and need to be clean, you’d obviously choose something that would leave your system faster. Other than that, test is test. It ultimately comes down to personal preference.
So a steroid virgin might do something like this:
Testosterone enanthate 500mg every week (750-1000mg is possible if you’re a big guy in the first place)
Add proper ancillaries and post cycle therapy to that, and you’re set. It’s really that simple. I’ve seen guys run this cycle for 8 weeks and put on between 10 and 20 lbs.
This leads to another good question you might be asking. How long should I run a cycle for? There has been much discussion on this subject in the past, with no real good answers being given. My personal opinion is that, if you’re going to shut down your own body’s production of testosterone, why do it for 2-3 weeks and have to recover from that repeatedly? I’d rather see you run 8-10 week cycles and recover just once. Chances are that you’re looking to get stronger during your cycle also. Why not take advantage of a longer period of time to progress with the poundage you use? You aren’t shut down as hard or for as long with shorter cycles, but you also don’t make as much progress in my experience. Progress is the whole reason we do this to ourselves.
You may find that you tolerate short cycles better. If that’s the case, then congratulations on finding what works for you. That’s the key to this whole thing, as experience will dictate what you ultimately do. Just remember to use the advice and guidance of those more experienced than you.
What to Add
So you’ve either made it through your first cycle or two, or you’re just impatient and want to add something to plain ol’ testosterone. If you’ve read the previous four installments in this series, you can probably guess that trenbolone is one of my favorite AAS and is the first thing I’d add to test on a cycle. If you’re the kind that doesn’t like injecting, this may be a problem, as tren should be injecting daily for best results. Some will inject every other day, but many who’ve done both prefer the results that they get from daily injections. People tend to love the strength gains that they get from tren, and when you add it to test, you’ll be impressed with muscular gains as well. Tren could be run as another stand-alone drug, but I’d reserve that for strength-based cycles if that’s your arena.
With all this in mind, an intermediate cycle might look like this:
Test enanthate 500mg every week
Tren 75mg ED (every day) for the length of your cycle (100mg is possible for big guys)
As a stand-alone for strength increasing purposes:
Tren 100mg ED (up to 150mg for larger guys)
Now since we’re injecting all the time, can we add an oral drug to the mix? Since I’m asking, the answer is obvious yes, and we’ll go with “The Breakfast of Champions:” Dianabol. D-bol is an incredibly effective steroid, giving great gains in both strength and muscle mass, but it comes at a price. I won’t go over side effects, as I’ve done that previously, but I’ll just mention that there are potentially many. If that doesn’t bother you, or you simply don’t experience those sides, then this is a great addition to any cycle. Though the issue of hepatotoxicity is probably overblown, you should probably keep D-bol use (or any 17-alkylated agent) to 4-6 weeks maximum to be on the safe side.
An example of a cycle putting all of the above together is:
Test enanthate 500mg every week
Tren 75mg ED
D-bol 50mg ED for 6 weeks of cycle
I would consider this one of the best and most cost-effective cycles that you can do. An 8-10 week cycle of the above would yield significant strength and size gains for virtually anybody, provided they train hard and eat a lot. If secrecy about your use is a major concern, this is probably not the cycle for you, as it will be painfully obvious to pretty much anyone that you’re “on.”
The above is just about the ideal stack and would produce all the results you might ever want to see, but I’d still suggest adding one more thing if money allows. Perhaps it’s an academic point, and I’ve really never seen much of a difference practically one way or the other, but the additional of Winstrol to any stack can only help. The unique property of Winny among the AAS is the ability to cause a reduction in sex hormone binding globulin in the body. If you’ll remember, SHBG does exactly what the name implies. It binds to androgens and keeps them from exerting their full effects. A reduction in SHBG leaves more androgen free to act on the appropriate tissues. Are you going to see a difference of five pounds at the end of a cycle if you add Winny to the mix? Probably not, but it certainly can’t hurt in the long run; it’s simply something I would add if money were not an issue. Both the oral and injectable version are 17-alkylated, so their use should be time-limited as with D-bol.
So the “money is no issue” cycle looks like this:
Test enanthate 500mg every week
Tren 75mg ED
D-bol 50mg ED for 6 weeks of cycle
Winny 25mg ED
You’ll notice that I left off a lot of drugs that I covered in previous articles. I’m not saying that they’re useless, as most of them have their place, but for simplicity’s sake we’re going to leave them out of the discussion for now. If you’re interested and have a specific question, feel free to e-mail at Ryan_Norton@Ruggedmag.com and I’ll be happy to discuss it with you.
Don’t ever, ever, ever do a cycle without ancillaries on hand and ready to use. You never know when you’re going to be affected by gynecomastia or break your leg and have to cut your cycle short. Again, don’t even think about starting your cycle unless you have your ancillaries in hand. I hope I’m clear about that. We’ll divide this into two different categories: anti-estrogens and post-cycle therapy. Some people get confused, as several drugs are used for both.
The goal during a cycle is to keep estrogen activity relatively low in breast tissue. We can accomplish this one of two ways. We can either prevent estrogen from being formed in the first place, or we antagonize estrogen’s effects at the breast tissue. Anti-aromatases (such as arimidex) block the conversion of testosterone to estrogen. Simple enough. One concern in using aromatase inhibitors is dropping estrogen too low. Estrogen has beneficial effects even in males, and a complete lack of it can leave you feeling horrible. Arimidex should be started at a standard dose and adjusted according to how you feel and how well it’s keeping estrogenic side effects to a minimum. For a simple cycle of 500mg of test a week, 0.25mg of arimidex per day is a good starting point. Some people will use twice the dose every other day for convenience and notice no difference. Again, my advice is to listen to your body and adjust as needed. Also, remember that the dose of aromatizing steroids you use will also dictate how much arimidex you’ll need. Test and D-bol dosages will affect your anti-aromatase dose, while Tren will not…all the more reason to understand these drugs before you use them.
The anti-estrogen method during a cycle is through the use of selective estrogen receptor modulators, or SERMs. This includes Nolvadex (tamoxifen) and Clomid (clomiphene). Without getting into details covered in the previous articles, both antagonize estrogen’s effects in breast tissue and act as pro-estrogenic agents in tissues in which we’d like them to do so. Clomid is typically run at 50mg per day throughout the cycle and Nolvadex at 10-20mg per day. There are some who prefer to wait to see if gynecomastia occurs, then use Nolvadex at 40-80mg per day for at least two weeks or until symptoms resolve. I’d suggest that you simply continue the Nolvadex at the lower dose of 10-20mg for the length of your cycle even after symptoms resolve. Keeping Nolvadex on hand during any cycle is probably a good idea for this reason.
Post cycle therapy (PCT) is fairly simple, although you’ll hear much discussion to the contrary. Simply choose Clomid or Nolvadex (some use both) as your recovery drug of choice. You want androgen levels to be low in your bloodstream when you begin your PCT, so wait 2-3 half-lives of the longest acting drug you’re using to begin. For example, if you’re using Test Enanthate, you would wait about two weeks after your last injections to begin. Using Clomid as an example, you would take 300mg on the first day to get blood levels up to par and 50mg per day after that for several weeks depending on how long your cycle was. Nothing complicated about it.
My one last, brief comment on ancillaries is about 5- alpha reductase inhibitors, such as finasteride. I like my hairline where it is and my prostate its current size. DHT has been implicated in exacerbating male pattern baldness and prostatic hypertrophy. If you’re using a drug that is reduced by 5- alpha reductase, such as testosterone, it would be a good idea to run finasteride throughout your cycle to help prevent those nasty side effects from happening. Roughly one milligram per day should suffice. Propecia is the brand name of the 1mg version of finasteride. A cheaper alternative is to cut the 5mg version, Proscar, into four pieces, giving you 1.25mg each.
To conclude, I’ll go over again what I’d consider to be the most effective, cost-efficient cycle with an example of appropriate anti-estrogen and DHT therapy and post-cycle therapy.
10 week cycle of:
500mg Test enanthate per week
75mg Tren ED
50mg D-bol ED for 6 weeks of cycle
(25mg Winny ED for 6 weeks of cycle is optional)
0.25mg Arimidex ED throughout cycle
1.25mg finasteride throughout cycle
300mg Clomid for one day, then 50mg per day for 4 weeks beginning 2 weeks after last injection of Test enanthate
Looking at this list without knowing anything is rather daunting, but I hope I’ve given you enough information to understand why each drug is listed and why it’s included in a good cycle. There are endless variations to this, but this basic framework and example should have you well on your way.
Having said that, our beginner’s series on anabolic steroids is now complete. Hopefully one or two of you have stuck around to read the whole thing and have gotten something out of this series. For those of you who are thinking of taking the plunge, I hope this series has helped you in some way. For those who merely read about steroids for personal interest, I hope these articles demystified some of this information for you.