T Nation

HPTA Suppression

[quote]scs wrote:
Anthony Roberts (or others), Re your pct protocol. It seems overly general to recommend this 1 week after last shot of injectable. It does not appear that you advise paying any attention to half life of various gear. [/quote]

Correct.

I don’t see any evidence showing the benefits of letting a particular drug totally clear itself out of your system, before you begin trying to combat the HPTA suppression it causes.

Please elaborate. If it is the existence of the un-natural amounts of aas in our system that causes natural test production to shut down and not restart on its own for many weeks after the cycle ends then how are we going to turn it back on if those same higher amounts are still there?

This portion of your pct makes absolutely no sense to me and flies in the face of everything the aas community has learned. If my assumptions above are incorrect and we’ve all been way wrong as to what causes our test to shut down and stay down then please let me know. However if my assumptions are correct then either 1)this portion of the pct (not waiting till clear) is ill advised or 2)Since it doesn’t matter if your clear the pct should actually be moved up to 3 weeks before cycle end so natural test is in full production by cycles end, since getting clear is not necessary.

Additionally if getting clear is not necessary why specify a shorter wait for pct when on orals vs injectables?

[quote]Anthony Roberts wrote:
scs wrote:
Anthony Roberts (or others), Re your pct protocol. It seems overly general to recommend this 1 week after last shot of injectable. It does not appear that you advise paying any attention to half life of various gear.

Correct.

I don’t see any evidence showing the benefits of letting a particular drug totally clear itself out of your system, before you begin trying to combat the HPTA suppression it causes.

[/quote]

i’m confused, seeing that if you go entirely on that logic, you could conceivably combat supression from day 1 of your cycle just by running an AI, SERM and HCG…making PCT somewhat obsolete. please clarify a little when you have a minute.

guys, I think what Anthony Roberts is getting at is there is no scientific evidence that shows x amount of an androgen will induce x amount of suppression…So with this unknown amount coupled with the variance from person to person, it is better to start the pct early, just in case recovery can begin when a certain amount is still present in the system.

I personally feel it’s too general to say, “start pct 1 week after last shot” as the half-life will differ depending on the compound you’re running…This should be more precise IMO.

MK

Two of the most critical factors bodybuilders are concerned about when coming off a steroid cycle is keeping the muscle gains they made on the cycle and recovering their natural testosterone levels.

Indeed, recovery is perhaps the critical factor in keeping gains. There are many theories on how to best come off and recover from a cycle.

Recovery is not an exact science yet. Research, and science in general, is a dynamic process - constantly open to change based on new information and studies.

Cycling what products to use and for how long and at what dosage, is complex. Many factors influence what the user determines is best for them. These are: goals, level of experience, access, years of training, knowledge, etc.

Probably the biggest factor to affect recovery is the length of a cycle. Longer cycles increase the chance that recovery will be delayed and possibly not 100%. Therefore some experts, like Author L Rea, advocate doing a series of short 4 week cycles followed by 2 weeks of post cycle therapy (PCT).

However the traditional cycle is usually 8-10 weeks, which is still relatively safe for recovering normal testicular function. The longer the cycle, the higher the chance of impaired recovery.

A critical factor in cycle length often overlooked is the steroid ester one is using. Doing an 8 week cycle of Deca Durabolin for example, is in actuality perhaps a 10-11 week cycle due to the long acting ester Deca Durabolin.

For the last 2-3 weeks that the user is trying to recover, perhaps using Clomid and HCG for example, nothing is happening because the deca metabolites are still active and shutting down the HPTA. So that’s 2-3 weeks of little anabolic activity and no endogenous testosterone. Bad idea.

Deca, as you can see, is best used at the beginning of a cycle, not the end. Other long acting esters, such as Testosterone Cyp or Enanthate, also delay recovery, as their metabolites remain active.

In general, for faster recovery, it is advised to switch the last 4 weeks of a cycle to fast acting esters and orals. Fast acting esters include hormones attached to nothing (suspension), or an acetate or propionate ester. Winstrol, Testosterone Propionate are examples.

Fast acting esters and orals clear the body faster and as such allow recovery to begin faster. A chemist once told me that ideally the last injectable used should be metenolone.

The first carbon atom has a ‘beta-methyl’ group on the a-ring. This structure of metenolone supposedly makes it harder for the HPTA to ‘see’ it. He recommended using either 30-50 mg of the oral, or 100 to 200 mg of the depot.

Consider the 4/2 cycle theory, and/or switch to fast acting Esters and orals for the last 4 weeks of a traditional 8-10 week cycle. Know the compounds you are using in a cycle so that you can plan a proper recovery cycle. Recovery

The recovery phase should ideally be considered a part of any cycle. Although it typically begins during the last 2 weeks of a cycle and lasts from 2-4 weeks after (perhaps more), it really is a process that should be used during the entire cycle.

Measures should be taken to prevent excessive testicular atrophy during a cycle and not just at the end.

by the way my nickname is a tribute to Dan Duchaine (just that!)

Great brain storming all these comments!

Avoiding Testicular Atrophy

The best way to prevent testicular atrophy is to regularly use compounds that can stimulate the testes. For example, every 4 weeks a one week dose of recovery items would be included in the cycle. This recovery week would include arimidex, clomid, bromocriptine and HCG perhaps.
Bromocriptine acts to decrease the amount of prolactin that the pituitary releases. It keeps prolactin in check while stimulating sperm production and erectile function. If used too frequently or for too long, it can lead to poor appetite and decreased receptor sensitivity.

Clomid and arimidex work on various aspects of the HPTA, and help stimulate the testes, preventing excessive atrophy.

Estrogen Suppresion

Ideally we want to keep estrogen low during the entire cycle. Contrary to popular belief, estrogen suppression does not inhibit protein synthesis(1) as was believed, and in addition, excess estrogen will make you fat(2).
In rats(3) and humans(4) estrogen supplementation increases GH levels, but reduces skeletal growth by decreasing somatomedin levels.’ The idea of bulking agents, like hard androgens, adding more weight is due to the intramuscular and organ fat deposition the excess estrogen causes!

You don’t need this fat. Worse, estrogen deposits fat cells with higher estrogen sensitivity, like around the waist. This may contributes to the bloated gut current bodybuilders have. Research indicates this fat location also increases risk of heart disease.

In addition, estrogen also causes an increase of sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG). As SHBG increases, anabolics cease to work. In fact this could be the main reason that after a while anabolics don’t work as they used to; a rise in SHBG. Yet another reason keeping estrogen low may help.

Therefore, using arimidex (anastrozole) or aromasin (exemestane) during the entire cycle is a good idea if one can afford to. There are cheaper, generic versions of arimidex available now from overseas that work great. Arimidex is better than clomid due to its mechanism of action; it blocks conversion of testosterone to estrogen. Clomid is a weak estrogen that only acts to block estrogen receptors (as well as stimulate gonadotropin releasing hormone (GnRh) release).

If you can’t access arimidex, then clomid could be used. Novaldex can also be used and some have reported it may be more effective at GnRH stimulation than clomid. 5 This is because clomid is a weak estrogen and can act to suppress HPTA function.

The choice of clomid over novaldex is an area that appears to be hotly debated currently. Novaldex has some reported toxicity issues, so this is an area of concern. However, novaldex is the choice for gyno (versus say arimidex) since it blocks estrogen that has already formed in the body.

In addition, reports that anti-estrogens, like Novaldex, lower IGF levels could be due to the fact that the acute pharmacokinetics of these compounds may increase clearance rates of IGF from the blood, not an inhibition of IGF release itself. Clearing IGF from the blood does not mean it is lowered on a consistent basis.

Another writer claims anti-estrogens alone will do little to restore HPTA function since the testes have become smaller and lost mass, rendering them insensitive to even heightened levels of LH.
According to him, Clomid and Novaldex alone will increase LH levels but not enough to shock the testes back into production mode.5 Therefore this theory involves using HCG post cycle in a high dose to ‘shock’ the testes into recovering is the best route.

The levels of LH provided by anti-estrogens alone supposedly will not do this according to him. However, use of HCG post-cycle can lead to such an increase in testosterone that estrogen will also rise, leading to further HPTA inhibition.

HCG use post cycle, on a low dose (250-500 iu/day) and short time frame, can work to enhance recovery, provided anti-estrogens are also used to prevent excess estrogen inhibiting recovery.

Also Clomid and Novaldex can bypass the HPTA and stimulate the testes directly, acting as exogenous FSH and LH. Since they don’t risk causing a rise in estrogen levels, they may be a better choice.

Another facet of recovery is increasing NGF in the HPTA. NGF increases the recovery rate of the glands in the brain, specifically the hypothalamus and pituitary. The class of compounds known as ‘smart drugs’ or nootropics because of their life and brain enhancing qualities are specifically successful at raising NGF levels.

They include Hydergine, Piracetem, and Selegiline among others. Growth hormone can also increase NGF, and acts to increase testosterone through this mechanism. Some natural compounds will also increase NGF, such as Acetyl- L-Carnitine (ALC) and Ginko Biloba. Selegiline will also act to increase dopamine levels, which is also critical for recovery as dopamine drives the male brain.

While serotonin is the primary neurotransmitter in women’s brains, men are oriented around dopamine. Dopamine is responsible for aggression (or assertiveness), and is critical in the sex drive also. If you can get your hands on them, nootropics could be beneficial for recovery. Even Ginkgo and ALC (1500 mg/day) could be used post cycle to aid recovery.

The best route to ensure recovery is to use as many non-hormone items you can get your hands on. First off the best route is to make your last four weeks of a cycle fast acting injectables like Trenbolone, Test Prop and Winstrol and orals like D’bol.

Ideally you would be using a small amount of arimidex or formestane during the entire cycle to keep estrogen down, unless you are using non-aromatizable steroids like trenbolone and winstrol. Clomid and/or novaldex can also be used during the cycle. At a minimum, during the cycle, every 4 weeks you should use a one-week recovery of arimidex and clomid. This keeps the testes primed to bounce back faster post-cycle.

The critical time for recovery is the last two weeks of the cycle until about 4 weeks out. During the last two weeks of a cycle, use clomid (50-100 mg/day) with arimidex (even when using non-aromatizing steroids this should be used as it stimulates FSH).
This would be followed by at least 2 more weeks of arimidex only (tapering down to 0.25 mg/day at the end). Don’t use clomid post cycle as it down regulates the HPTA. If you still need to use an anti-estrogen for some reason, use Novaldex post-cycle. If you have access to Bromocriptine, use that as well for a short period of time (3 weeks).

Know when the drugs you are using have cleared your system. For example, with trenbolone, about 3 days after your last shot you can assume most of the drug has been cleared from the blood. So technically its 3 days after your last shot of trenbolone that your cycle is ended. That’s when you would also stop using clomid.

If you can access HCG, use it. Best application is to use during a cycle in small amounts, every fourth week during your mini-recovery protocol of clomid and arimidex, for several days to keep the testes from shrinking. At the end of a cycle, best use is the last week or two of the cycle to restore teste size.

Other compounds like GH, and nootropics are also useful adjuvants to assisting the recovery phase. Use them if you can. A lower cost and legal option is to use products like Impact and Aromax by ALRI. Training should also be modified - post cycle where catabolism is a real threat, short, intense workouts are best.

High intensity training (HIT) like that espoused by Yates and Mentzer is best for a post-cycle training regimen.

In addition, save the creatine for post cycle also - anabolics already enhance creatine uptake, so better to use it post cycle for whatever little edge it may give you in the down phase of recovery. Glutamine and BCAA’s are also effective post-cycle supplements.

References:

  1. Estrogen suppression in males: metabolic effects. Mauras N, O’Brien KO, Klein KO, Hayes V. Nemours Research Programs at the Nemours Children’s Clinic, Jacksonville, Florida 32207, USA.
  2. Harpers Biochemistry(23rd edition) Murray et al
  3. Josimovich et al. 1967
  4. Schwartz et al. 1969
  5. Disparate effect of clomiphene and tamoxifen on pituitary gonadotropin release in vitro. Adashi EY, Hsueh AJ, Bambino TH, Yen SS. Am J Physiol 1981 Feb;240(2):E125-30
  6. Understanding post cycle ‘T’ recovery. W. Llewellyn