Hey coach, I’ve been following the Primer 52 for 2 months (and loving it), on a cycle for almost 4, and on cutting for the last one, but now that it’s at the end I am not sure what to do on PCT. I know that I have to increase the calories, but the fasting days won’t be a problem? What about the training? The recomendation are optimal to keep my muscle mass or should I change something? (Other than the volume on the hypertrophy days) Is the frequency is enough? What kind of “adaptable” day should I use? Or should I just stoping doing it and try something else?
Primer 52 might not be ideal post cycle.
The main issue post cycle is not recovering test as we often believe (although it is still important) but controlling cortisol. That’s what leads to muscle loss post-cycle. Sure inhibited testosterone production will make it hard to build muscle, but it will not be as devastating as jacked up cortisol levels on muscle mass.
Understand this: at the cellular level level hormones will bind to the cell receptors (androgen receptors for testosterone/anabolic steroids and glucocorticoid receptors for cortisol). Then the hormone/receptor complex sends a message to the nucleus of the cell and “stuff happens”.
The thing is that both systems (testosterone and cortisol) use the same messenger to reach the nucleus.
If you overload the cell with a boatload of androgens/steroids, it can use up most of the receptors, making it hard for cortisol to do its job.
The body will adapt by increasing cortisol production. But since you are flooding the body with androgens, it is unlikely to restore the balance that your body wants.
A second strategy would be to increase the sensitivity of the glcocorticoid receptors so that they respond more strongly than the androgen ones. And this can work… it often coincides for when the cycle stops delivering rapid results. That’s often when a bodybuilder decides to increase the dosage.
If he continues on with the cycle (and even more if he increases the dosage) the body can further adapt by increasing the number of cortisol receptors.
Now, let’s say that our bodybuilder stops his cycle. He is left in a situation where cortisol is not only high, but its receptors are super sensitive and maybe your body increased its number.
Now cortisol can very easily increase muscle breakdown without the steroids to protect the muscles.
The last thing you want when that happens is use a strategy that could increase cortisol.
A full day of fasting, being in a caloric deficit, ingesting low carbs will all increase cortisol levels for various reasons. While the effects can be manageable and the health benefits worth any potential drawback, post cycle I would do anything to avoid even the slightest cortisol increase.
As such the first 2-3 weeks post-cycle I would recommend a more regular way of eating, with at least . 40% of your calories from carbs, especially peri-workout.
As for training you need to decrease volume to avoid further cortisol increase.
A lot of people lose muscle post-cycle because they are afraid of losing muscle: They want to keep their muscle so they make the decision of training more, pushing harder, increasing the volume, using more intensity methods, etc. Especially since they get less of a pump compared to on-cycle.
That is the worst thing to do. All of these will increase cortisol.
You need a low volume approach. You can push hard, but on fewer sets. And I would also reduce the frequency to 3x per week (3 whole body sessions).
Wow, thanks CT, that was a much more detailed response that I anticipated and I am sure it will help a lot of people.
About the cortisol, I drink a shake with dextrose, whey and leucine pre workout and keep sipping another one duri workout, I think that will help to keep the cortisol at bay. I am those kind of people who count calories and weighs every single meal, I am pretty sure that I can keep a steady ingestion of carbs all day long to also help with it.
About the training part, I am thinking about doing a whole body workout using the “preparation sets” from Best Damn Workout (Two sets with a little less weight or same weight for less reps and then a all out work set, for those who are not aware), probably without the intensity methods at the end of the set. (As main goal here is to keep the muscle mass not try to gain any).
Thanks again, CT!