by Mike Arnold
Perhaps no other steroid has attained such a degree of notoriety, as has the famed Dianabol. Even today, over 50 years after its introduction to American athletes, and after the immergence of hundreds of other performance enhancing drugs, its use is still as widespread as when it was first released. However, is Dianabol still relevant in today’s modern age of performance enhancement…or has it fallen from grace in the face of recent pharmacological advancements? I would like to argue in favor of the former and over the next several paragraphs I will show you why Dianabol still deserves to be mentioned among the elite when it comes to oral steroids.
Dianabol came into being as a response to Dr. John Ziegler’s communications with former Russian physicist, while he was in Vienna with the American weightlifting team. During this conversation, and after a few drinks, it was revealed to Dr. Ziegler that the Russians’ success was not due solely to superior training methods, but was largely attributable to introduction of testosterone into the programs of Russian Olympic lifters.
After returning home to America, Dr. John Ziegler attempted to duplicate the Russians’ results in American athletes, some of whom are well-known names in the BB’ing/strength communities, such as Bob Hoffman and John Grimek. At the completion of these trials, it was determined that testosterone administration resulted in greater increases in muscle mass and strength than would’ve been obtained through training or dietary methods alone, but according to Dr. Ziegler, the side effects which presented themselves were unacceptable. It was at this juncture that Dr. Ziegler was inspired to surpass the hormonal achievements of the Russians’ and embarked upon the creation of a new steroid which not only resulted in a lesser degree of side effects, but which provided a greater anabolic response. Subsequently, Dianabol was born and the game has never been the same since.
For those of you who are unaware, Dianabol is what’s known as an oral anabolic steroid. Most commonly, oral steroids are anabolic-androgenic hormones which have been molecularly altered at the 17th carbon position by the attachment of a methyl group, which allows the drug to maintain structural integrity, as it passes through the digestive tract and eventually into the bloodstream. Often, when a steroid is modified through the attachment of a methyl group, its potency is further increased, as is the case with Dianabol.
Prior to methylation, Dianabol is structurally identical to another commonly used steroid, known as Boldenone (also known as EQ when esterfied with the undecyclenate ester). However, unlike Boldenone, Dianabol exhibits a much greater anabolic effect per mg, making it one of our most potent mass-building orals. According to Vida, Dianabol displays an anabolic/androgenic ratio of about 50:210, making it roughly twice as anabolic as testosterone per mg, but only half as androgenic. Still, anabolic-androgenic ratios can be deceptive, as they do not always reflect a steroid’s true muscle building potential. In the case of Dianabol, we are fortunately left with a steroid which lives up to its A:A ratio.
Let’s get away from the lab for a bit and talk about what you can expect from Dianabol in the real world. In short, Dianabol is an excellent size & strength builder. Users can expect wet, but fairly rapid gains in muscle tissue and strength. This is definitely not a steroid one would use if the goal was to look as hard and dry as possible, but when it comes to sheer mass Dianabol is the favorite of many. As a “fast-acting” steroid, its effects on muscle mass and strength begin to emerge within 1-2 weeks of use and can be rather dramatic at respectable dosages. This makes Dianabol an effective steroid in a variety of circumstances. In our modern age, this drug is often used to initiate gains at the beginning of a cycle, known as a “kick-start”, or used as a plateau breaker later on in a cycle, when gains have typically begun to stagnate. However, in prior decades Dianabol was used for much longer periods of time by the majority of its users. In any case, Dianabol makes a great choice for those looking for rapid gains in muscle size & strength.
Dianabol undergoes a relatively complex metabolism upon ingestion, leading to the formation of several active & distinct metabolites, most of which are of relevance in determining Dianabol’s overall effect on the body. Therefore, an understanding of and ability to manipulate these metabolites will allow a user to maximize benefits, while minimizing side effects.
Like testosterone, Dianabol does not demonstrate any progestagenic activity, but is easily capable of converting to estrogen through the aromatase enzyme. However, unlike testosterone, Dianabol converts to a more potent form of estrogen, known as methylestradiol. While aromatization to estrogen can result in unwanted side effects, such as water retention, female fat pattern distribution, gynecomastia, and elevated blood pressure, estrogen also results in numerous beneficial and necessary effects on male physiology. Benefits such as an increase in glycogen storage, a positive effect on blood lipids, proper sexual function, and an increase in anabolism are only a few of its positive characteristics, all of which are dependent on optimal levels of systematic estrogen.
The goal of any steroid user when seeking to build maximum muscle mass and maintain health is not to eliminate estrogen from the system, but to maintain the correct balance between androgens and estrogens. In the case of Dianabol, this goal is met by the use of an ancillary class of drugs, known as aromatase inhibitors. The concurrent use of Dianabol and an “A.I.” will enable users to receive all the benefits this drug has to offer, without experiencing the side effects of excessive estrogen.
Dianabol is also capable of inducing androgenic side effects in its users. In men, these side effects can range from hair-loss, acne, hirsutism, and oily skin, among others. The degree to which these side effects manifest themselves is largely dependent on the dosage employed, as well as on an individual’s genetic propensity to experience a particular side effect. Additionally, being that Dianabol displays a weaker androgen component than testosterone on a mg to mg basis, it is less likely to result in side effects at similar dosages. Personal opinion should dictate to what extent these side effects are acceptable to each user, and dosage should be tailored accordingly.
One of the reasons why Dianabol has become so beloved in the AAS community is because, quite frankly, users simply feel good when taking it. Dianabol is well-noted to impart an anti-depressant-like effect, and unlike so many other oral steroids available today, which result in appetite suppression, lethargy, and general malaise, these side effects are almost always non-existent with Dianabol. This makes Dianabol one of the most pleasurable steroids to utilize on-cycle.
Another standout attribute of Dianabol can be seen in the area of toxicity. While Dianabol is inherently liver-toxic due to methylation, it appears to deliver a reduced toxic-load per effective dose in comparison to many of our other mass-builders, such as Anadrol, SD, and M1T. As a consequence, this drug can be run for longer periods of time without presenting the same degree of risk as the aforementioned drugs. In healthy individuals, this drug can easily be run for 10-12 weeks at moderate dosages before discontinuance should be considered.
While AAS in general elevate red blood cell count and lead to an improved “pump” during weight training, Dianabol excels in this area. The typical user experience with Dianabol includes extreme muscle pumps in the gym and a perpetual feeling of muscle fullness, even when at rest. Dianabol accomplishes this through multiple pathways, which are comprised of an increase in RBC, an overall increase in blood volume, as well as through significant inhibition of the 11-beta hydroxylase enzyme.
There are some minor disagreements regarding the half-life of Dianabol, with claims ranging anywhere between 3-6 hours. This necessitates a dosing schedule of every 3-6 hours if one desires to maintain even blood levels of the drug throughout the day. The average dosing range for Dianabol is between 20-100 mg daily. Most individuals will use between 30-60 mg per day.
While some users will opt to run this drug alone, best gains will be realized by combining it with an injectable steroid, such as Testosterone. Below, I supply the reader with 2 basic cycle examples using common cycling guidelines. Option #1 is suitable for anyone from beginners to those who prefer keeping dosages on the lower side, while Cycle #2 is more suited to those who have at least a couple cycles under their belt.
Cycle Option #1
Weeks 1-8: Testosterone @ 500 mg/week.
Weeks 1-8: Dianabol @ 30 mg/day.
Cycle Option #2
Weeks 1-10: Testosterone @ 600-800 mg/week.
Weeks 1-9: Nandrolone @ 400-600 mg/week.
Weeks 1-10: Dianabol @ 50 mg/day.
Despite being birthed in an American lab over a half-century ago, Dianabol is still one of our most effective and well-rounded steroids, which remains a favorite to this day. It is properly included in the cycles of beginner and advanced athletes alike and at the present time, I don’t see it becoming any less relevant in the near future.