Seems like there has been a lot of discussion about cycle length lately…SHORT CYCLES (2on/2off, 2on/4off, 3 weekers), MEDIUM CYCLES (6-8 weeks), STANDARD CYCLES (10-12 weeks), LONG CYCLES (3-9 months or continuous use).
I wanted to start a thread (4 part series) to discuss who should be employing each approach based on experience and goals, the pros and cons of each in terms of gains, and what compounds are best suited for each.
I asked Bushy to write on this a while back but he has obviously been busy with other matters (my condolences on your legal trouble mate, a damn shame that you got taken down in the witch hunt…I hope you keep making positive contributions to this site) so I have decided to start it myself. Bush if you wanna jump in you are more than welcome to be a guest writer.
To others please add to the info if you can (VETS only please…you know who you are) or correct any errors you see. I am not an endocrinologist, have little medical background other than what is self taught, and don’t really care to reference my sources because I don’t record them when reading…hell i don’t even spell check. If any of the vets are going to post I would ask that they follow the general format so that it maintains some continuity.
This is all from anecdotal evidence, that of other users, or stuff from memory that I have read on the internet which is littered with false “facts” so I expect a few mistakes and this is by no means the last word.
PART I - LONG CYCLES (3-9 months or continuous use)
This is an approach often taken by those with a great degree of experience or older users that no longer have a need of their natural test (or who’s natural test is too low to bother with as is the case with Hormone Replacement Therapy or HRT).
It is believed that longer cycles will result in more perminent gains because:
- The body has more time to adapt to the new muscle mass…this point is very debatable but the general idea is that the body has time to adjust the new ‘set point’ of mass. How it does this is not fully known and may be total speculation…I believe it has to do with satellite cells which will be discussed in more detail later.
- There is more time during the cycle to build muscle tissue. At some point (which varies from user to user but are generally around the 2-3 month mark with long esters) gains begin to diminish such that eventually little to no further gains are seen and the continued use is simply maintenance of the existing muscle. However with very long cycles some users are able to make continued gains either through very strict training and diet or the addition of peptides.
Often times brief periods of high doses (blasting) are employed to see continued gains followed by long periods of low to moderate use (cruising). This allows users to break through plateaus that are reached when gains diminish to the point of little to no growth.
The biggest downsides are:
- Cost is increase with cycle length (obviously)
- Many side effects become more pronounced over time
- Shutdown is very severe such that to recover natural test (if coming off at all) is only posible with the use of HCG to stimulate the testes or by tapering with Test to try to allow the users HPTA to return to normal gradually. This is of course not an issue with continuous use because there is no need to recover if not coming off.
Test Enth or Cyp is usually the only or at least the main compound for long cycles. This is because of:
- Effects on libido. Synthetic Test is the only compound that is a substitute for natural Test in this regard so it is really the only choice when shutdown is guaranteed if the user (assuming they are male) values their ability to get an erection and desire to have sex.
- Long half life (reduced injections and more stable levels). The Enanthate and Cyponate ester versions are most commonly used because injection frequency can be reduced to about once every 4-7 days.
- The even balance of anabolic to androgenic qualities.
Here is a list of possible androgenic and anabolic qualities so you know what this means:
ANDROGENIC (ANDROGEN RECEPTOR MEDIATED EFFECTS)
- increased male charicteristics like agressiveness
- increased sex drive
- increased oil production
- thickened face and body hair
- growth of prostate tissue
- increased adrenalgenic activity
- decreased catabolic activity
- faster recovery/tissue repair
- reducion in fat deposits
ANABOLIC (NON-ANDROGEN RECEPTOR MEDIATED EFFECTS)
- increase muscle mass
- increased immune fuction
- male pattern fat deposits
- reduced body fat
- increased electrolyte retention
- increased hemoglobin and red blood cell count
- increased calcium deposits in bones
- increased nitrogen retention
- increased protein synthesis
- decreased catabolic ration
- Test works really well. Study after study confirms it. Test adds muscle, burns fat, and does all sorts of great things. It is the king.
Typical doses are in the range of 200-1000mg/week (with HRT users simply looking for better quality of life at the low end and experienced bodybuilders at the high end) wich is the dose for cruising. The blasting dose is much higher but as previously mention it will be covered in the shot cycle section because that’s really what it is.
Secondary steroids that are well suited to longer cycles are:
- Equipoise and Deca due to their long half life, synergies with test, and low adrogenic/estrogenic side effects. Both provide anabolic properties (compared to increasing the dose of Test) such that they yield additional mass/strength gain without adding strong androgenic/estrogenic sides.
- Masteron Enanthate or Primobolan due to their long half life, synergies with Test, hardening effect, and effect on Sex Hormone Binding Globulin (SHBG) and estrogen conversion. Both povide androgenic properties with no water weight gain or estrogen issues.
Equipoise (a 1,2 double bond derivative of Test) is roughly equal to Test in terms of anabolic qualities but with half the androgenic/estrogenic properties and has a side effect of increasing appetite (which aids in bulking) and EPO (thus blood volume giving greater pumps, vascularity, and improved stamina). The reduction in adrgoenic properties and estrogen conversion reduce the need for ancilliaries when increasing overall doses of AAS. Having an Undecylenate ester it doesn’t need to be injected often to maintain stable levels (about once every 7 days). Equipoise can be run at levels lower than, equal to, or higher than test in the cycle but most opt for levels about 2/3 to 3/4 that of the test. The one main concern with EQ is blood pressure increases due to increase in blood volume. From personal experience a dramatic increase in systolic BP was seen which a slight increase in Diastolic BP. Estrogen is still an issue but at half the conversion rate of Test it is only a problem if using very high doses.
Deca (a 19Nor derivative of test) is a very anabolic drug with little androgenic/estrogenic qualities and has a side effect of aiding the joints and immune function. This adds mass and strength without the androgenic/estrogenic sides. This makes Deca mild in terms of hairloss, Benign Prostate Hypertrophy (BHP), blood pressure, lipid levels, and gyno. Deca converts to Nor-Estrogen which acts much more weakly on the receptors so gyno is less of an issue unless very high doses are used. Nor-Estrogen is believed by many to be the reason for Deca’s ability to aid joint lubrication/health while on.
Deca has also been shown to aid in collegen synthesis and bone density. Deca is commonly used by those who are suffering from previous injury or illness so it makes sense to use it in a long cycle where their will be continuous stress on the joints, bones, and ligaments.
The Decanoate ester produces stable levels even when only shot once a week and because of it’s side effects of improving joint health and immune function it is a great addition to a long cycle where the body will be under prolonged stress.
Deca does have a very dramatic negative effect on libido due to it’s 19-Nor structure (able to activate the progesterone receptor) so dose is typically lower than test at a rate of 1/2 to 2/3 that of the Test and use often restricted to just a portion of the cycle (ending at least 2-3 weeks prior to Test). It is often combined with an anti-progesterone like cabergoline or bromocrptine to offset this effect.
- Masteron Enanthate (a DHT derivative) binds strongly to the Androgen Receptor. Like other DHT compounds it adds muscle hardness/density and aggression without water retention or estrogen issues. DHT has a stronger affinity for SHBG and the aromatase enzyme but will not convert to estrogen once bound leaving it inactive. This means it will leave more unbound Test in the system which provides a boost to libido and will also intercept a good deal of the aromatase enzyme before it has a chance to convert Test to estrogen so it actually acts as a weak anti-estrogen. It also adds lean tissue without any water retention so a user after a lean look will benifit from adding it to the stack. The drawbacks of Masteron are it’s strong androgenic sides - negative effects on hairloss (MPB), hairgrowth on the body, and growth of the prostate (BPH) although many believe the last to be more a culprit of estrogen than DHT. Either way these symptoms may become an issue with long term use.
Typical dose of Masteron Enth in a cycle is 200-600mg/w and needs to be shot at least twice a week to keep levels stable. Many users find the benifits begin to diminish over 400mg/w. From my own experimentation I have found over 300mg/w to give too much tightness in the muscles which negatively impacted performance but all users are different. Generally levels run at equal to or lower than Test.
- Primobolan is another DHT derivative that is well suited to long term use. It is very similar to Masteron structurally and has similar actions. Because of it’s structural differences it has a few unique twists. It has a lower rate of andrgenic side effects and is generally considered milder on the system in terms of suppression. It has also shown a positive effect on the immune system. The drawbacks are that doses need to be slightly higher to see good results and the cost is typically extremely high which makes long term use very very expensive.
Typical dose of Primobolan in a cycle is 300-800mg/w and needs to be shot at least twice a week to keep levels stable. Results in the higher range have shown much better results. Primo dose can be higher, equal to or lower than that of Test however if a very high dose of Test is combined with a low dose of Primo the effects of the Primo may become hard to notice or become nullified due to binding with SHBG. For this reason many users will opt to use Masteron over Primo in a cycle due to cost.
Ancilliary compounds used are for combating side effects:
- Estrogen causing gyno or water retention
- Arimidex (AI…~50% reduction)
- Aromasin (AI…~85% reduction)
- Letrozole (strong AI…~98% reduction)
- Clomid (SERM…weakly blocks the E receptor but does a good job of stimulating LH and FSH)
- Nolvadex (SERM…strongly blocks the E receptor and does a good job of stimulating LH and FSH, also has a positive effect on lipid levels)
- DHT side effects such as hairloss and BPH
- Finasteride (DHT blocker)
- High blood pressure
- Ace inhibitors
- Beta Blockers
- Progesterone side effects
These side effects are dependant on the genetic sensitivity of the user and dose of AAS so their use varies.
Another important component of long cycles are Peptides. Specifically HGH, IGF-1, and possibly MGF. Because of their effect on satellite cells they are a great addition to long cycles where there is a prolonged period of use and therefore ideal circumstances for hyperplasia (creation of new cells). My understanding of these peptides is pretty basic but it goes as follows.
- HGH - increases IGF-1 and therefore satelite cell activation in muscle tissue and cartilage growth in the joints. It also assists with protein synthesis, endurance, skin quality, vision, and fatloss.
Anecdotal evidence from experienced users is results in terms of muscle growth and fatloss seem to be best when run over long periods (greater than 6 months).
The negatives of HGH long term high dose use is of course the growth of organs specifically the intestines which give the HGH gut look and the growth of bones which can give the caveman look.
The typical dose for HGH varies depending on your goals. For life extensionist and HRT users the dose is around 1.0-2.5iu/d run in the morning when natural levels are already high so the negative feedback is reduced. For bodybuilding purposes the dose is around 4-10iu run either ed or eod (morning and post workout when natural levels are high)…evidence seems to suggest results from EOD use are as good with less suppression of natural levels.
- IGF-1 - increases satelite cell activation in muscle tissue, protein synthesis, and cartilige growth. Mostly the same reasons for taking HGH but without the fatloss benifits. Typical use is post workout in doses ranging from 20mcg to 200mcg. It is injected intramuscularly and usually done bi-laterally (ex half in each biceps muscle).
IGF-1 will cause a negative feedback loop for endogenous HGH production so using it on an EOD schedule helps to reduce suppression. IGF is often combined with exogenous HGH for this reason. High doses of IGF will definitely show negative effects in terms of organ growth so the dose is usually restricted to about 50mcg or less per injection.
- MGF - there really isn’t enough evidence on MGF yet to speak on it with any assurance of an ideal protocol or even really a solid understanding of it’s effects but here is some info taken from another post that gives a pretty good understanding of the theory:
MGF is a splice variant of the IGF produced by a frame shift if the IGF gene. MGF increase the muscle stem cell count, so that more may fuse and become part of adult muscle cells. This is a process required for adult muscle cells to continue growing.
Why PEGylate MGF?
MGF exhibits local effects in skeletal muscle and without modification is not systemic (can’t travel through the body). The problem with synthetic MGF is that it is introduced IM and is water based so it goes into the blood stream. MGF is not stable in the blood stream for more than a matter of minutes. Biologically produced MGF is made locally and does not enter the bloodstream and is short acting so stability is not an issue. By PEGylating the MGF we can make synthetic MGF injected IM almost as efficient as local produced MGF.
Typical protocols so far are using MGF with IGF-1 to replace depleted satelite cells in a manner where about 100-300mcg of PegMGF is used once a week (or 50-150 is used 2 days a week) with IGF-1 being run the rest of the week.
PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER
So what would a TRT and a Very Long Cycle look like? Here are a few examples (I am not saying you should do this, it is just a basic roadmap to show how it works)
NOTE: W X-Y means starting the begining of week X and ending at the end of week Y
Test Cyp 150mg E4D
Adex 0.025mg E4D
HGH 2iu ED (early AM - Mon, Tues, Wed, Thu, Fri)
W 1-20 Deca 200mg E4D
W 1-36 Test Cyp 500mg E4D
W 1-36 Mast Enth 200mg E4D
W 1-39 Adex 0.5mg EOD (tapered in last 2 weeks to 0.25 EOD)
W 1-52 HGH 4iu EOD, 40mcg IGF-1/D EOD (post workout)
So there you have it.