T Nation

First Cycle Advice

Hello everyone.

I’m considering taking my first cycle. I’ve been training for 6 years now and recently plateaued seriously in the muscle gains department. Although I am fairly young I feel as though I am very close to my genetic potential now. Currently 23 years old and 178lbs at 12/13% body fat. When I first started at 17 I was about 150lbs so I have done alright over the past 6 years of lifting weights. My gains have basically stalled for my upper body over the last 6 months to a year due to an injury to my shoulder which has reduced my amount of pressing I can do a week (about 20-25 sets for chest and shoulders combined is all I can manage). Lower body still making gains as I squat and deadlift twice a week. Due to this I’m considering running a very basic cycle to help me break through this plateau and gain some weight again. Also I have been speaking to people about steroids and they talk about feeling amazing and like a superhero which is very appealing to me as sometimes my confidence can hold me back.

The cycle I have planned:
250-300mg of testosterone ethanate - weeks 1-12
Nothing - weeks 12-14
40mg everyday of Nolvadex - weeks 14-16
20mg everyday of Nolvadex - weeks 16-18

This cycle is open to discussion as to be honest I don’t know too much about steroids. I wanted to start with low test to start just too see how bad the side effects are and whether it’s worth the risks. Also I don’t want to blow up and not be able to retain the muscle after incase I didn’t enjoy the cycle but wanted to keep some of the gains.

Cheers everyone!


gains less than 30 lbs. Only kinda lean. Is at ‘genetic potential.’

Cool story brah.

You’re not at your genetic limit, shit just gets slow. You will have plateaus, whether you run gear or not. Like you said, you had an injury. That’s not even a legitimate plateau.

If you’re doing this to achieve the ‘superhero feeling’, then expect to be on for life, and expect to be consistently raising the dose. Just the reality of it.

Also, 20-25 sets a week is a lot of pressing. It’s more than I do.

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Fair play. The reason why I’m only kinda lean is that I don’t want to diet as I find it too restrictive and unenjoyable even when just counting macros and it doesn’t benefit me being leaner other than aesthetics.

My shoulder injury does hinder me but it’s been bad ever since it happened 18 months ago and it has good months and bad months but due to not being able to train intensely I just feel like my upper body won’t change any more than what it is already like.

I know what physique I want to have and the question I ask myself is, yeah I could train naturally for another 5-6 years then maybe get it or jump on gear and have it by the end of the year? Then I have all my late twenties and thirties to enjoy having the physique I want rather than having to really battle for it and maybe get it when I’m almost thirty.

Thanks for the reply

i see a big problem here. steroids aren’t going to fix the injury, and in fact could make it worse. I don’t know what kind of injury you have, but if it’s lingering afer 18 months, that’s a HUGE problem. You could do further damage to it by training with heavier weights that steroids would allow you to train with. I highly suggest you work at the root problem, the injury, before making this decision. No shoulder injury should take THAT long to heal from, so my guess is it wasn’t properly addressed in the first place. What sort of treatment/rehab program did you go through? Was surgery involved?

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I dislocated my shoulder playing football and it also causes shoulder impingement as well. It was untreated for about 2 months before I went to the public physio which was rubbish. This was now about 6 months after the injury as the waiting list was ridiculous then I went to a private physio for 4 months (cost a bomb) and it got me back to around 90% and I was told that’s the best I’ll get. The injury didn’t require surgery and still doesn’t. There just is a notiable weakness in my shoulder and RC which causes my trap to constantly over work so I get pain in shoulder, trap and neck is I train too heavy or too much.
I’ve just come to terms with it now that I’ll always have this injury as fast forward about 6/7 months and it’s still there niggling probably only 1/2 times a week it actually irritates me. If I was start on the gear I would keep all my pushing at around 60/70% of 1RM and not change my volume to make sure I don’t overwork it. The increased recovery abilities might actually help too.

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the increased recovery ability won’t help with joint stabilization. Just saying. You’ll feel better than you really are, that’s the danger. A whole lot of people end up doing damage to joints in their first cycle because they push harder than they should, just because they feel like they can.

And I really think you went to some shitty doctors. I can’t imagine, at your age, that a simple shoulder dislocation should cause a lifetime of shoulder pain. But it sounds like nothing can be done at this point.

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Very true. I currently do work on my stability and foam roll to manage and improve flexibility and stability. I definitely when to bad physio on the NHS but the private physio was quite an intelligent man. He worked very well to break down scar tissue and open up my shoulder blade. However he wasn’t sport specific so he may not have understood how to correct it properly for high intensity exercise, but while I was working with him my shoulder did get a lot better. Shoulder injuries are just one of the injuries where once you get them they never get better. I know a fair few bodybuilders my age who’s shoulders are fucked worse than mine.

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honestly, i would give it a bit more time…

i had a significant shoulder surgery, and for about 6 months, i was thinking i was gonna be on pain meds for the rest of my life. now my shoulder is stronger then it was for years and pain-free, too.

another option would be something like TB500 or PBC157 to accelerate the healing, and focus on rehab a bit longer.

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Flip, I don’t entirely agree with his choice to jump in and hope injection will solve or help his shoulder issue, but I will vouch for the shoulder causing long term pain. My girlfriend dislocated her shoulder falling down some stairs (I shouldn’t have kicked her…jk) and the pain since has never truly left. I can see it in her form and range of motion on a lot of exercises. I did something to my r. cuff last year and I’m still feeling it as well.

It’s quite possible we also went to some bad doctors, but I consistently went (key word there: “went”) to a sports therapist/crossfit doc and it only marginally got better. Please note that I dislike crossfit intensely, but I do know crossfitters tend to stupidly mess there shoulders up frequently so I chose that doc.

Anyway, Flip is right. You aren’t at your genetic potential. As a former skinny guy I know how important that 28 pounds was to you. But you can gain a hell of a lot more than that and you’ve GOT to change your diet in order to do so.

Sorry for the novel but my recommendations are this:

  1. Count your damn calories. Don’t be a little wuss and say you eat enough. You’re lying to yourself. We all do this at some point. Fix this and you’ll see the gains come.
  2. If you’re going to do your first cycle, read the post Cycobushmaster replied with after your first post. It outlines an amazing Test Enanthate only cycle that’s truly incredible. It’s not overkill and it sure as HELL isn’t underkill.
  3. Ancillaries (your support drugs) are insanely important if you want to keep your babymaker working properly. KSMan on the forums here has written some incredible posts on PCT and SERM dosing. None of us like spoonfeeding information because it’s so readily available here, but basically you’re looking at a cycle like this:

1-10 Test E 500mg a week (2 shots per week 250mg each)
1-12 3mg Anastrazole (Arimidex) per week (1 mg doses spaced out MWF or whatever)
1-12 750iU hCG weekly (3 shots per week 250 mg each. PLEASE read how to do these injections properly. It is not a steroid.)
13-16 20mg Nolvadex daily

Veterans can once again grill me if I have that wrong, but that should be foolproof

hCG should be iu, not mg. And at that dose it should be done at least 3x per week.

Thanks bud. I knew that but didn’t catch it. Edited to reflect both.

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Thanks for the reply. Yeah shoulders are one of those joints when a lot of the time once it’s gone it’ll never be back to 100%.
Glad someone understands how hard it is to gain when you’re skinny! I do track my calories and I eat around 3000-3300 a day so I will put them up to 3250-3500 a day and see where that gets me then take it from there. If I was to juice I would put my calories straight up to 3750-4000 to see where that gets me. I might wait another year before I consider any unnatural enhancements and see where that gets me.
I appreciate yours and everyone else’s help

I started out skinnier than you man. 125 when I was 18 years old. I got up to 190 naturally. And actually, I’m only 193 now. Trust me, I know what it’s like. The picture on the left I was 18, picture on the right I was 30. (Not natural in the pic on the right. I’ll follow up with the last pic of me that I have from being natural)


This picture is right before my first cycle.


Dude, you need to understand this:

You will still need to eat in a caloric excess according to your bodyweight while on steroids to gain muscle. There is no way around that. As you gain more weight, you will need to eat even more. If you don’t, all that you will gain is muscular fluid and water weight. This will, of course, dissipate after the cycle.

Steroids give you the POTENTIAL to gain muscle above whatever genetic limitations you have and at a faster rate. That is all. You do not build the muscle without sufficient food and proper training. Yes, assisted bodybuilders manipulate certain things like increased glycogen storage and other things for contests but that is not actual muscle tissue.

Do not buy in to the nonsense spread by whiny natties who have never done steroids before but act like they are experts on what these drugs do based on 1 or 2 questionable studies being thrown around in Internetland. Have you not noticed that the only ones claiming to know how to train on steroids are natties? Have you ever heard a steroid user say, “Nah this program won’t work for the natural trainee…”?

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