T Nation

First Powerlifting Cycle Critique


Hi all,

I've read through as much as I can (every single page of the stickies) and couldn't find a direct answer to this, so I figured I'd start a thread. In advance, thank you to those that take the time to go through this.

26 y/o
Lifting for 11 years, voracious reader of strength theory the whole time
Powerlifting competitively for 3.5 years
Most recent total (raw w/ wraps): 445 / 305 / 535 @ "210.8lb", 6'1"
Training is supervised by a top pro powerlifter.

Note the "210.8" bodyweight was following a new weight cut protocol to test how much I could drop. BW is generally 225lb 12% BF. I've pushed as high as 230 naturally before but to get to that level requires a huge amount of carbohydrates and bodyfat increases past 12%. I also generally drop to about 215-218 @ 8-10% BF in the summer. IOW, I have no problem fluctuating my weight +-8lb and +- 2-3% BF.

Goals are twofold, firstly to fill out the 220 class (230-235lb) and secondly to get stronger (as much as possible, although within "healthy" boundaries). As mentioned, I can push to 230 naturally but bodyfat levels rise. I want to push to a leaner 230 than I could do naturally.

I have a meet in 12 weeks, and then I'm travelling abroad 2 weeks after that, so I don't really have time to fit a 6-8 week cycle in. I do not want to run my first cycle and then try to manage PCT abroad. So, I either run a shorter cycle now, or wait until after this comp and run a standard cycle. I'm undecided, thus I come to the forum for debate.

Before diving into the AAS, I should call out that I've considered AAS before - the main time was at age 20 or 21. I read through all of the info in this forum, thought it through for a few months and took the advice and waited. That was EXCELLENT advice. I've pushed so far past what I would have thought I could, and learned so much more. Now, I'm reconsidering and wanted to get some feedback.

I'm considering two options, neither are groundbreaking. I'll outline below. I'd prefer not to gain a ton of weight in a short period of time for various reasons. Given a decade of lifting under my belt, I'm fine with the slow and steady road. I prefer it, actually, as huge recomposition really screws up my leverages and technique. I just want a slight acceleration on that slow and steady road, and as mentioned, to fill out the weight class with added LBM, and not added LBM+FatBM.


From '08 to '10 the idea of repeating 2 on 2 off floated around a ton, but I haven't seen many people report using it. I kind of hate to lead with the 2 on / 2 off, because it seems like it's very much viewed as a cycle that only the misguided take. My research has led me to believe that it actually aligns to my goals quite well. If that's incorrect, please highlight why so I can learn (and in advance, thanks!).

The ideas behind this type of cycle seemed to align to my goals well:
- Short-acting AAS (such as Test Prop and Dbol) builds up quickly and clears the system quickly, essentially eliminating the need for PCT because (as I've read) shutdown of the HPTA occurs (generally) around week 3.
- While both Test and DBol cause water retention and thus the "gains" in two weeks will largely vanish, the expectation is that LBM gain will be accelerated to supraphysiological levels.
- You won't bulk 30 pounds doing this, but you'll likely make more LBM gains than a natty lifter.
- The shortness of the cycle counterbalances the harshness of orals and thus, while not good for the liver, 2 on / 2 off / 2 on / 2 off / 2 on / 4 off is better than blasting orals. It's worth adding that I don't drink.
- This fits in the timeline that I can get 2-3 "cycles" in before the meet, and I shouldn't gain enough mass to worry about the weight class.

W 1-2 Test Prop 100mg ED
W 1-2 DBol 20mg ED
W 1-2 Adex .25mg EOD

Running the Adex to minimize water retention since both test and dbol aromatise, but I'll be monitoring E2 levels and make sure they don't crash. Nolva on hand, but no planned usage. I've read their shouldn't be a need for a chemical PCT. I'd run this 2:2 2:2 2:4.

Another option is DBol only. I know that's frowned on, and that's why I didn't list it. But I can't find much in the way of pros or cons of doing this with Test P + DBol vs DBol only.

8 week Test cycle
This is option two, and if I opt to stay natural into the competition in 12 weeks then I will likely run this early next year when I have more time to fit AAS in.

W 1-8 Test E 250mg E3D, with a frontloaded first shot of 600mg
W 1-10 Adex .25mg EOD
W 1-9 HCG 250iu E3D
W 10-18 Nolva 20mg/D

I don't think there's much interesting here, but I'll call out a few decision points for posterity:
1. There's people that advocate 8, 10, 12 or longer Test cycles. Some mention gains capping at 8 weeks, some mention at 10, et cetera. I haven't found much evidence that 8 weeks is so short to be a waste of time, and since I'm not aiming for every-ounce-of-mass possible, I'd rather keep the cycle more compact my first time. Personal preference.
2. ADex .25mg EOD seems to be the standard, and has been since '08. Standing the test of time is a good thing in my books.
3. Some advocate HCG, some don't. It seems like the majority prefers it, so I'm going with the majority. However, a lot of info here is pretty old. Not sure if this has changed.
4. HCG is run one week past the test, intentionally. 2 weeks for the esters to clear enough to begin PCT, but HCG's halflife is shorter, thus I've read that it makes sense to run it one week past the test (but stop it one week before PCT)
5. It seems like longer runs of Nolva (vs 40/40/20/20) are more popular nowadays since research has shown that running more than 20 doesn't mean twice as fast recovery, and since Test esters decay following a half-life scale, you're still as supraphysiological levels for about 6 weeks. Thus, a longer and more moderate PCT is advised.

This got a bit long, but I've noticed over the years that shorter threads tend to get every hole in them picked apart. I hope that I've been thorough enough that there's not many glaring holes, but feel free to poke away. I've read that Tren is king for strength, and I'll likely get to it eventually, but I wanted to stay away from "harsher" compounds my first time around.

Thanks everyone.