It’s that time of the year again. Spring is about to hit, the air temp will be increasing and we will all start to focus on what our “beach physiques” will be like for summer. This is the time of year steroid dealers are constantly out of stock. It’s the steroid “busy season,” so to speak. It’s also the time of year when many people contemplate steroid use for the first time. With that in mind, I thought it would be a good idea to go over some of the basics to building a “safe” steroid cycle. Using powerful drugs like anabolic steroids always entails some level of risk to the user. The key is minimizing these risks as much as possible, at least if safety is going to be a primary concern. Below are eight steps I have learned for starting things off on the right foot. This is by no means a roadmap to steroid use with total safety, as there really is no such absolute thing. Nonetheless, I trust you will find some very good advice in the highlighted points. Building your cycle according to these rules may not get you to where you want to be in the next four weeks, but you will definitely make progress, and you will probably do so without constantly worrying about your health.
Rule #1: Make Sure You Buy Real Drugs
You are going to face one of your most important challenges when it comes to planning a “safe” steroid cycle before you even start taking anything. You must buy your drugs first, a task more crucial to your health than you might imagine at first. The problem comes in avoiding counterfeit steroids, which in many instances can present greater risks than the actual steroids they are supposed to contain. Counterfeit steroids are rarely made in the type of sterile environment you’d expect of pharmaceutical products. They are often assembled in a house, apartment or warehouse somewhere, without the proper use of germ-free equipment, purified ingredients, filtered air, respirators and bodysuits. They are thrown together for the sake of profit, not carefully assembled with the utmost care and expense given to sterility. Fake steroids are very prominent on the black market and have been for as long as there has been any type of a real steroid market to speak of. I can honestly say that I’ve heard more horror stories relating specifically to the use of counterfeit drugs, than of just steroid use in general. It would be impossible to teach you how to avoid counterfeits in the context of one article alone, let alone a small segment of one. Best advice I could give is this, and I think it’s important: Don’t jump on the first steroids you’re offered. Often the steroid “newbie” is so excited about the possibility of getting gear, that he/she jumps in headfirst with the first thing available. Take some time, learn about the drugs you’re interested in taking, and shop around for a purchase you are comfortable with before laying down your money. Remember, there is more than cash at stake here.
Rule #2: Avoid Hepatotoxic Oral Steroids
Bodybuilders have a long and fond relationship with potent oral steroids like Dianabol, Winstrol and Anadrol. They are great drugs when it comes to building muscle and easy to take to boot (no needles). For the person taking his or her first steroid cycle, it’s an easy type of drug to which to gravitate. But an important rule of thumb you need to remember is that injectable steroids are generally much safer than orals. Synthetic oral steroids have an unbalanced effect on the liver, because they become concentrated in this organ before reaching general circulation (part of the normal digestive process). Their synthetic (hard to metabolize) nature places added strain on the liver. Although the risk of something as serious as cancer is admittedly very low, it still exists at some very minute level. Combine this with the fact that orals like these tend to be much more negative in regard to how they affect your cholesterol levels and there starts to be a strong “risk vs. reward” balance that needs to be addressed. If you’re contemplating your first steroid cycle, drugs like testosterone, boldenone and nandrolone are much safer overall, in both regards. If you absolutely must take an oral drug because of a terrifying fear of needles, stick with one of the non c-17 alpha alkylated (“methylated”) drugs like Andriol (testosterone undecanoate) or Primobolan.
Rule #3: Pick a Reasonable Dose and Stick with It
When you begin your first steroid cycle, it’s easy to start imagining how quickly you’re going look like a pro bodybuilder. But the fact is, no amount of steroids is going to do that for you overnight. It takes hard work, dedication and time to reach your peak physique. One of the keys to healthy steroid use is not to look for that overnight fix. Be content with a reasonable drug dosage and a reasonable level of muscle gain (say, 10-15 pounds over the course of your first cycle). We are talking about a range of say 400-600 milligrams of testosterone or Deca per week, as opposed to the 1,000+ milligram dosages you will often hear people recommending in the gym. This level is more than sufficient to build mass and probably does so in the most cost-effective manner (1,200 milligrams does notmean twice as much muscle as 600— it doesn’t work that way). Not only are you going to put less stress on your body in general, but you’re likely to end the cycle feeling like you retained a much greater percentage of your gains, as there is going to be less water retention contributing to your overall bigger appearance. Reasonable dosages mean more comfort, more safety and less crash.
Rule #4: Avoid Aromatase Inhibitors
This may seem a little odd to you at first. Indeed, aromatase inhibitors (drugs that dramatically prevent estrogen conversion in the body) are very popular in bodybuilding circles today. The new generation of aromatase inhibiting agents are much more powerful than the drugs we had access to just five or 10 years ago, allowing them to have a much more profound effect on your physique. When it comes to cutting up, estrogen is one of our primary enemies. The new generation of aromatase inhibitors (Arimidex, Aromasin, Femara) do such a good job at lowering estrogen, that in many instances they enable the athletes to dramatically increase visible definition. These drugs are great cutting agents, not just good for blocking gyno. Problem is, they are also pretty bad for your cholesterol levels, as estrogen is very important to this balance. A recent study demonstrated this fact very well. When comparing the effects of a testosterone cycle alone (280 milligrams of testosterone enanthate weekly), vs. the same dose combined with an aromatase inhibitor (250 milligrams of testolactone four times daily), university researchers noted that only the latter was negative to cholesterol. The non-aromatase inhibitor group noticed no statically significant drop in good cholesterol or the overall good to bad ratio, while the ones taking testosterone plus an inhibitor had very negative changes in both measures. Take something like Arimidex only when necessary, at least if you want to run the “safest” cycle you can.
Rule #5: Take Nolvadex
Take Nolvadex, whether you think you need it for estrogen maintenance or not. Nolvadex is a very effective drug for improving the good to bad cholesterol balance. As mentioned above, estrogen is key to this. So, just how does Nolvadex help, if it has an anti-estrogenic effect like the aromatase inhibitors? The answer lies in its unique structure. Although Nolvadex is classified an anti-estrogen, it is more correctly a partial estrogen and a partial anti-estrogen. The pro- or anti-estrogenic effect depends on the area of the body the drug is in. In peripheral tissues, such as the breast area, Nolvadex is a potent anti-estrogen, great at mitigating related side effects like gynecomastia. In another very crucial area, the liver, it has the opposite effect. Here Nolvadex actually acts as an active estrogen, thereby lending itself to improving cholesterol balance, instead of harming it. In my experience, a single 20-milligram tablet each day can make a dramatic difference in your cholesterol readings. It’s not a guaranteed fix, but it definitely helps.
Rule #6: Confide in Your Doctor
I can’t tell you how many people I speak with each year who are afraid to speak with their doctors about steroid use. Yes, your doctor is going to give you “the speech.” You can sit and roll your eyes for 10 minutes while he/she tells you that you’ll be dead in a year if you keep taking steroids. But when that is over, your doctor is still there to try to keep you healthy. You will be able to use your doctor to monitor your cholesterol levels and liver enzymes closely during your cycle. At least a trip or two, especially if you are opting for a more “adventurous” cycle, can go a long way in preventing health issues. Remember, your doctor does not work for the Gestapo. Your doctor works for you. He/she is not out to reveal your private medical information to the police or your family, but is bound by law to keep everything you say confidential.
Rule #7: Check your Blood Pressure Regularly
This is not a tough thing to do, as getting your blood pressure taken is very easy nowadays.You typically are not even required to go to your doctor’s office for it. Automated BP machines are pretty prevalent and can often be found in your local health club, or even your local pharmacy. Usually such businesses offer them as courtesy to their customers and don’t even set the machine up to charge for the quick two-minute test. Blood pressure is one of those important health markers you need to stay on top of. It’s a simple thing to do and can tell you a lot about your health. Or, to put it another way, it can enable you to get the hell off the drugs if your blood pressure is getting too high. For some, this is a regular battle with steroid use; for others, it’s a non-issue most of the time. Regardless of what type of person you think you are, a quick, free and easy blood pressure test can tell you for sure what’s going on.
Rule #8: Limit Cycle Duration
I’ve probably spent as long a time on a cycle as anyone, so I am no person to preach. I’ve gone a year or more on steroids without taking a break, on more than one occasion. This is fine if you are a competitive athlete, or obsessed with being in your absolute best shape all of the time (my issue was the latter, of course). But, obviously, this is not the healthiest thing to do. If you are looking at steroids in more of a recreational manner (you are not a competing athlete), this type of cavalier use should be avoided. Looking back, I probably should have given more care to proper cycling when I was using these drugs. Doing the standard six to 12-week cycle, and giving your body at least equal time off the drugs before starting them again, is probably the best advice anyone could give you. Don’t let yourself be tempted to simply “stay on” all the time, or to “bridge” between cycles with lower doses of steroids (which is tantamount to constant steroid use, anyway). Even if you could find a way to avoid the more dramatic negatives during long-term use, such as unbalanced cholesterol levels, high blood pressure and liver toxicity, your body is going to have a very hard time recovering from the drugs once you finally do stop them. Prolonged steroid administration can cause a profound suppression of testosterone production, from which you may not have an easy time rebounding. I’ve spoken with many bodybuilders over the years who spent good time with endocrinologists, trying to get their hormones back to normal so they could eventually start a family, or simply get themselves back to feeling 100 percent. Be safe, be smart and don’t be in a rush. You’ll get there. Just try and make sure there are as few bumps in the road along the way as possible.