Are you ready for your first steroid cycle?
Are you ready for your first steroid cycle?
Countless times we have read about how we should max out our genetic limit first, then when we are sure we cannot progress any further naturally, only then should we consider our first steroid cycle. There is an ego to it all too.
“I trained for 5 years before I ever even thought about touching a steroid. Look how far I got naturally. You should do the same too kid. You have a long way to go before you need to worry about steroids.”
There is another common thought pattern that suggests that if you start taking steroids before you reach your natural, genetic limit, that in breaking this rule you will somehow reduce the maximum size and strength you will reach when you do decide to take steroids. Then this pattern continues for the steroid user thinking about using more steroids than recommended too:
“Use as little juice as you can to go as far as you can with a little first because if you do not, you will have nowhere to go after that. You will build a tolerance then you will never be able to get bigger.”
The first part of the above paraphrase is reasonable advice to give, but to the second part? Anabolic and androgenic steroids are not like stimulants. You do not build tolerance to these drugs and hence why anabolic steroid dependence is a myth as well. You may end up psychologically addicted, but not physiologically addicted. You do not suffer withdrawal from anabolic steroids either. If you are symptomatic [feel crappy] after a cycle, that is due to HPTA dysfunction [hormone imbalances], not withdrawal like you would experience with a heroin addiction. Anabolic steroids are synthetic hormones. In fact, the androgen receptor up-regulates! Does all this mean that we should jump straight into 3000 mg a week of gear and 15 iu a day of HGH after 1 year of training? No, definitely not. Why would you if your goals are only to look like a physique competitor, say? For this goal, you will likely never need such high doses. In fact, some of these guys who look like the IFBB guys from the 70’s and 80’s with very pleasing physiques are not taking that much more than a beginner cycle, ever. For most of us reading, the doses of anabolic steroids we will require to reach our goal physique will never exceed 1000-1500 mg a week in total. You can of course take more than the starting recommendations in an attempt to find out just how big you may get ASAP, but this most often backfires when the side effects of these medications at high doses end up ruining the party. If your energy is low, your sleep is off and you cannot even breathe right to walk up the steps, let alone during a set; it will not matter how many drugs you are taking. You are likely going to go backwards. Only very few are able to withstand the side effects of AAS at very high doses long term. When they say “genetics matter,” they also mean “genetics to tolerate the drugs matter” within that title too.
I digress a little. The question we want to know the answer to is:
“How fast can I safely get to my goals?”
It is a fair question. One I have spent a lot of time thinking about. A lot of time quantifying in my head. I also notice that giving people generalised timelines of this answer is not attractive. Me sitting there throwing at clients a modest and approximate answer (to cover my ass in case I end up being horribly wrong after the client does everything right and fails to meet such expectations). I needed something more specific. Clients want numbers, figures. Humans want to be able to measure this kind of stuff. It is motivating. How many kg of muscle do I have? How low is my body fat expressed as a percentage? I get it, I do. So I constructed a brief guide. Below is a guide for you all to consider that challenges some ingrained belief patterns with regards to starting your first anabolic steroid cycle. I hope for it to help you make a better decision on when you should start and for it to also give you an outlook on how soon you can realistically get to looking the way you want to look.
1.) A young man or woman needs to understand that the starting age is the most important deciding factor when considering the use of AAS (anabolic and androgenic steroids). There is discussion among the medical community that is unclear on whether or not AAS given too early can stunt your growth, affect your brain development for the worse (or better or different) and increase your risk for HPTA dysfunction if you decide to stop taking AAS. One cannot disagree that beginning steroids before the age of 25 may indeed have unknown implications on a person’s life, but it is unclear whether those changes would be insignificant, or significantly worse, or better even [Context matters]. Of course, this information matters less to a 21 year old man shooting for the stars. How dare I tell him not to take steroids. Which is reasonable. Every adult should have the right to make their own decisions about their own life. My responsibility here is to simply make the person considering AAS for the first time aware of these potential implications. Which I have. As I mentioned though, 18-21 year olds are not going to listen to me anyway and if I must speak out of line, I have helped monitor and manage the health of many 18-21 year old AAS users who at this point in time, seem to be doing just fine. In fact, I would say they’re a lot healthier than the vast majority of people their age who are consuming a lot of alcohol. Funny how we consider alcohol acceptable at the ripe age of 18 in Australia when its implications on brain development and health are clear (even at what is considered mild doses). It is an unusual world we live in where what is legal is considered right and what is illegal is considered wrong. A discussion for another day that one.
2.) If your training, nutrition and recovery have been on point for 18 months since the day you first picked up a weight, you should notice that you have built a tonne of muscle. If you haven’t, then the 3 key variables of training, nutrition and recovery have not been met. It is at this point you should hire a respected coach and then reassess in another 18 months time. After 18 months of doing everything as right as you can, you should also notice that your gains have slowed down dramatically. No doubt, your genetic limit is not yet reached after 18 months, but from 18 months to 3 years the gains are going to get slower and slower. From 3 years to 5 years? Very slow. Too slow. So, it is with reason that if you have lived and breathed your sport for 18 months and you want to take things to the next level, you should. Unless being natural for longer has something to do with your pride, you are not fast tracking your physical performance staying natural. By the way, there is nothing wrong with wanting to remain a drug free athlete or waiting longer. Now, in saying all of this you need to know the risks and the benefits need to outweigh those risks for you. What are those risks? Well, the simple answer is that if you are an otherwise healthy individual and you cycle sensibly then any unwanted side effects are going to be temporary. Most people love almost every minute of their first cycle but it is still important to recognise that acne, mood changes, libido issues, water retention and gynecomastia are still possible side effects you may experience, which will be reversed upon finishing your cycle sooner than later; along with any other internal negatives that your body may have experienced such as cardiovascular stress, fertility issues and HPTA dysfunction. In every case I have had, all have returned to baseline who cycle sensibly. For those who stay on cycle for 6-12 months plus at a time, well, that is a different story. I do not recommend cycles beyond 12-15 weeks for those who value their natural testosterone levels.
3.) If you are certain that trying anabolic steroids is for you, then the discussion of the dose (mg) and steroid of your choice is the final step. Commonly you will hear it repeated that 2ml (500 mg) a week of Testosterone enanthate or Sustanon for 10-12 weeks with a little aromatise inhibitor in the mix is a sensible first cycle. I have to agree that this is a sensible prescription, but it is not the only one. A few other little winners you could consider:
- 250 mg a week of Testosterone enanthate
- 50 mg daily of Anavar
- arimidex on hand if you need it at 0.25 mg EOD
- 250 mg a week of Testosterone enanthate or Sustanon
- 250 mg of Deca Durabolin a week.
- 0.25 mg EOD arimidex is a good starting dose.
- 150 mg a week of Testosterone enanthate
- 50 mg daily of Anavar (no arimidex required)
- 25 mg a day of MK-677
There are of course many other first cycle options and estrogen control methods you could choose, but I will not confuse you for now. Any one of the 4 cycles above will give you a good enough indication whether or not the juice life is for you and most certainly you will see some newbie gains again! After your cycle, there is Post Cycle Therapy (PCT) to consider which is another cycle of its own with the purpose of returning you back to normal.