OK, here is the start of the transplanted Cycle length guide....
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.
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 II - 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:
1. 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:
1. Cost is increase with cycle length (obviously)
2. Many side effects become more pronounced over time
3. 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.
The reason for adding secondary anabolic compounds is to:
a) increase the total adrogens in the cycle without increasing the specific sides of test, the primary compound...users will reach a point where their tolerance for the sides from test outweigh the benifits of increasing the test dose, at that point adding other compounds allows the users to take in more total androgens without an equal increase in sides.
b) change the anabolic/androgenic ratio to acheive different goals
c) add unique characteristics to the cycle inherent in certain compounds such as healing of joints, increasing libido, increasing hunger, or increasing blood volume
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 (although 19-Nors are able to elevate prolactin levels which may lead to gyno as well).
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).
Deca is often combined with Winstrol to offset the progesterone receptor effects it has or to counter the prolactin effects it is combined with cabergoline or bromocrptine...newer treatment seems to be Mirapex (Pramipexole) which I'm not that familiar with.
- 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 are 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:
1. 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/procepia/proscar (DHT conversion blocker...note this just blocks the conversion of test based androgens to DHT by reducing type II 5 alpha reductase enzyme, it will not block injected DHT based steroids)
Dutasteride/avodart (DHT conversion blocker that blocks the type I and II 5ar enzyme)
High blood pressure
- Ace inhibitors
- Beta Blockers
Prolactin side effects
- vit B6 (some assistance but weak)
- Human Chorionic Gonadotropin (HCG)...this is an artificial way of keeping your nuts up without your body's natural Folicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH) or Leutinizing Hormone (LH) which get shut down from gear.
It is a peptide hormone produced during early pregnancy...it has an effect of stimulating the lydig receptors in your nuts which tell them to grow and produce testosterone. There is a negative feedback in this process and the lydig cells can be downregulated so it's use needs to be minimal.
These side effects are dependant on the genetic sensitivity of the user and dose of AAS so their use varies.
Here is a general guideline I pulled off Elite Fitness
hCG Dosing Guidelines
- Human Chorionic Gonadotropin -
For each cycle length the first one listed (1) is for low dose HCG throughout/on-cycle (Preferred method)
The second line (2) is for hCG during last few weeks only of the cycle (only if hCG was NOT used during cycle)
1-6 week cycle
(1) No hCG needed
(2) No hCG needed
8 week cycle
(1) 250iu every 4 days* from week 3-8
(2) One 1000iu shot per week for 2 weeks with AI? taken daily
12 week cycle
(1) 250iu every 4 days* from week 3-12
(2) One 1000iu shot per week for 3 weeks with AI? taken daily
16 week cycle
(1) 250iu every 4 days* from week 3-8
Take a 2 week break
250iu every 4 days* from week 11-16
(2) One 1000iu shot per week for 3 weeks with AI? taken daily
- Every 4 days = Shoot on Monday, then on Friday, then on Tuesday, ect.
? AI - Aromatase Inhibitor (While taking 1000iu shots, I recommend 10mg/ED of Aromasin or .5mg/ED Arimidex to keep estrogen in control. Discontinue 4 days after last hCG shot.)
If you are doing the on-cycle hCG protocol it is important to discontinue hCG 2 weeks prior to AAS clearance. Therefore, when you officially start PCT you will be clean of all AAS's and will be 14 days from your last hCG shot. This allows your testes to become re-sensitized to the body's LH signal from the brain, making for a quick recovery of natural testosterone production as soon as the steroids and hCG clear the system. This is another reason why on-cycle hCG is superior, because it allows you to start recovering as soon as PCT begins.
If you aren't doing hCG on-cycle, then use hCG according to the last few weeks guidelines, and start it 4-5 weeks before the AAS's are expected to clear the system (Or as soon as possible if you are already past this point).
1. Clenbuterol/Albuterol - powerful fat burner that also has strong anti-catabolic effects, so it works very well in a fasted state (such as a pre-contest diet). It is a BETA receptor antangonist like most other fat burners and a bronchodilator (think asthma medication).
Clenbuterol is typically taken in doses which pyramid up to and down from 100-120mcg/d but use will be restricted by tolerance (users will get cramps and jitters if personal tolerance is exceeded). For this reason the pyramid up must be very gradual.
After 2-3 weeks receptors begin to get downregulated (and may be permenantly effected) so it is best to cycle this no longer than 2 weeks on with an equal or greater period off. Use can be extended (in terms of effectiveness) with things like Zatiden or Benadryl which upregulate/clear the Beta receptors.
Personally I would just run Benadryl during off weeks if I ran it at all. Clen has been shown to enlarge the cardiac muscle so many people avoid it and I would recommend the same to all but professional bodybuilders who are doing this for a living.
Albuterol seems to have fewer negative sides (adrenal fatigue, enlarged cardiac muscle) so it is the drug of choice for a lot of people. Dosing with Albuterol is somewhere between 15-20mg spread through the day as it is fairly short lived in the system.
With either clen or albuterol the fatloss is still very dependant on proper diet and exercise. They are really just a tool to tweak and already good formula, not a shortcut to success for a bad formula.
DNP - I am listing this because it out there and does work but I won't go into it because I think it's pretty dangerous and do not advise using it. If you want to read up on it you can go to this link:
It discusses DNP at length and has links to more info and some logs of people who have used it.
Ephedrine, Caffeine, and Aspirin (ECA stack) - these have been arround a while and talked about to death so I will just list them and say that they increase fat burning and blunt hunger. Their use is cycled as they will also downregulate the beta receptors and lose effect after time.
Though safer than Clen/DNP they can still cause permenant downregulation if not used correctly.
- Thyroid Hormone/Hormone pre-curser (T3/T4) - This is synthetic thyroid hormone and it's pre-curser. Thyroid hormone has a direct effect on metabolism (the rate at which calories are burned for energy) so supplementing with them will amp up the calorie furnace.
I won't go into much detail on this either because this is a newbie guide and these should really only be used by very experienced bodybuilders (and possibly not even then) but I will say that they will increase fat burning and muscle building because extra calories are being mobilized. It can also burn muscle by mobilizing too many calories so it is often used with AAS and or Clen which seems to have muscle sparing properties.
It is synergistic with Clen because of Clen's effect on how energy is used in the body. There is a strong risk of suppressing natural thyroid levels (permenantly) and having to stay on the medication for life so it must be taken in a pyramid protocol and only used for a restricted period.
Unlike Clen where the pyramid up is most important with T3/T4 the most important portion is really the pyramid DOWN portion or taper off to gradually return the thyroid to normal functioning.
- HOT-ROX or other legal fat burners - basically most of them act in a similar manner to the above (activating the Beta 2 receptors to increase metobolism and increase fat burning, and have an added compound to blunt hunger) but do so with legal compounds and/or natural extracts.
Their use varies depending on the product and should be follwed exactly. Like ECA they are often cycled because of downregulation.
Insulin causes glucose/nutrients to be transported from the bloodstream into cells in the body. For this reason it is very anabolic. It is naturally occuring in all of us and is the body's response to food.
People's insulin response varies depending on a number of different criteria and play a major factor in how your body uses food as fuel (stores it as fat or shoves it in the muscles as glycogen).
Diabetics insulin/insulin response doesn't work properly which is why they need to take insulin shots or closely regulate blood sugar. When combined with steroids it will cause growth to occur at a very rapid rate.
Think of the steroid as a worker that is trying to build a house, the house is the muscle cell, the insulin is a truck that is going to help transport more bricks to build a house with, more bricks mean a bigger house is built faster...this is really oversimplified but this is a newbie guide so that is about all the detail I am going into.
Insulin use in bodybuilders is usually in the area of 10iu/d taken in regular intervals through the day with food (large doses of protein and carbs), usually after training has taken place.
If insulin is taken without sufficient glucose in the blood then the user will go hypoglycemic then possibly pass out, go into a coma, and die. For this reason I would never recommend insulin to anyone who is not a professional bodybuilder with medical supervision from a licenced doctor.
THIS IS NOT SOMETHING YOU WANT TO FUCK WITH. Some of the guys on this site and other sites have experimented with insulin and I am pretty sure they will all agree that it is not smart for a newbie to use it.
Again this is something I am posting just so you know what it is and why you don't need to worry about it at your stage of development.
OTHER GROWTH PEPTIDES
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 lipolysis (fat being broken down and used as energy).
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 acromegaly (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. The dose is taken 5 days on and 2 days off to give the system a break. Shot are usually taken Subqutaneously (in the fat under the skin) to give a longer/slower release.
For bodybuilding purposes the dose is around 4-10iu (some as high as 20iu+) run either ED (5 on, 2 off), EOD, or E3D. Experimentation is still ongoing but it seems using a larger amount per day but doing so fewer days is looking like the way to go. By taking multiple shots a day the daily dose can be increased (as there is a tolerance factor...many users can't use more than 2iu at a time without swelling of the hands and feet). Taking the shots Intramuscularly (IM) or Intravienously (IV) is a faster way to release the drug which results in less negative feedback from Somatostatin. Same reasoning for the EOD or E3D schedule the negative feedback from Somatostatin is reduced.
Ideal times to shoot are:
- early AM when levels would already be high
- pre-training to cause mobilization of fat stores
- post training to induce growth when damage has occured to the muscles and the body is primed for growth (usually also combined with high protein/high carb shake).
One negative with HGH is decreased insulin sensitivity due to over stimulation of the receptors. Combining use of HGH with multiple daily administrations of Metformin (except post workout) to slow the release of glucose in the system from carbs will help to reverse this effect and increase insulin sensitivity.
- 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. Basically you want to inject enough that it will bind to all the available muscle cells you have just upregulated from lifting but not enough that you are flooding the bloodstream and ending up with it in the organs like the intestines. Less is more with this drug.
- 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.
POST CYCLE THERAPY (PCT)
Post cycle therapy is used to return to normal function of endogenous testosterone (your own that happens in your balls). It obviously isn't needed with the continuous cycle but absolutely critical with all other cycles. There are two basic approaches for PCT.
- Test Taper.
Rather than give a long breakdown I will simply give the link to the summary thread.
The basic pricipal is that you are slowly returning the body to normal but holding exogenous test use at baseline (natural) levels and then slowly dropping below that so that the body can adjust. As the levels of exogenous test drop the levels of endogenous test compensate until the body is returned to normal.
Using HCG to artificially bring the nuts up and then using a SERM to increase LH and FSH levels to keep them going.
The HCG is either used:
- Throughout the cycle at a maintenance dose of 250iu (E3D to E4D)
- In higher doses in the final few weeks of the cycle (4 shots spaced 5 days apart) of aprox 3000iu, 3000iu, 1500iu, and 1500iu is the classic manner of doing things...the dosing guideline posted above in the section on HCG is a little more up to date and would probably be a better one to follow. Remember that the final weeks of the cycle are judged by when the esters are clear not when you are taking the final shots (ie. if your gear is enth it takes about 2 weeks to clear after your last shot).
This is then followed by 3-4 weeks of SERM use, either:
- Clomid at about 200mg first day, 150mg/d next few days, 100/mg/d for the next week, and 50mg/d for the last 2 weeks
- Nolva at 80mg first day, 40mg/d for the first week after, and 20mg/d for the last few weeks.
This way you are taking the SERM when the gear is pretty well out of your system (all that remains is supraphysiological or below normal levels). There is no point to taking a SERM when you have above normal levels in your system (unless you are trying to stop gyno) because you will still be suppressed strongly and it won't increase LH/FSH.
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)
W 37-42 Test Cyp 50mg 2x/w
W 43 begin dropping each shot by ~5mg until you reach zero.