So, you have decided that you want to use steroids for muscular development beyond what nature intended. Good, me too!
When I first began running gear I was a fairly lean 205 lbs at a height of 5'9″. I had put in serious work in hard training and adequate nutrition before the thought ever crossed my mind on using gear to continue making progress.
From the time I was about 19 or 20 years old up until about 28 years old I was cycling on and cycling off. Usually I would deal with shitty skin when I would first begin and it got even worse after discontinuing the cycle.
I would also feel a little down on life for several weeks following the drop off of anabolics. I sort of felt like that off-time between cycles would be “damage control” or more or less spinning my wheels until the next cycle.
The few years leading up to about 28 years old was usually on cycle more than off cycle. That whole time on/time off rule, it sort of went out of the window with me. While anabolic steroids aren't physically addicting, they certainly have a strong psychological effect.
When I was off cycle it sort of became this feeling of “existing” until I could jump back on again. It was difficult to imagine how I would make progress going back to Clark Kent when I just spent the past few months as Superman in the gym.
So shortly after my son was born I got on Doctor script testosterone replacement therapy. Truth be told, fertility concern was the only thing keeping me from getting on it sooner.
So after getting on script TRT it was like a green light at the drag strip race; all bets were off and I had no issues with trying to recover my natural testosterone levels. Nope, no longer a concern for me!
So what had transpired from cycling on and off for the first several years had then turned into MOSTLY ON, but milder compounds in lesser amounts. But nonetheless, “on” almost all the time, but switching off certain compounds to others and rotating through them.

Now, I began getting occasional labs done about 4 years prior to getting on TRT (right around 24-25 years of age). Despite using a vast array of compounds in decent amounts, surprisingly the labs never came back that out of whack during that time.
Aside from cholesterol being occasionally high, usually everything else was in range and there wasn't a cause for concern to doctors.
It's nice to have youth on your side isn't it? I promise you, this changes down the road!
The biggest things I was looking at when I first began getting labs were my blood pressure, my cholesterol count and ratio of HDL to LDL (high density lipoproteins and low density lipoproteins)
The ratio of the good and bad cholesterol is more of a measure of cardiac risk than the total cholesterol number usually. I thought to myself, “these numbers aren't that thrown off, so I must not be abusing compounds.”
At that time, little did I know that certain metabolic/organ functions get worse as we age in general, and that being on TRT doesn't come without risks and proactive measures that need to be taken!
Another thing that I learned was necessary was how important it was to come off to get an accurate reading on the labs. One of the issues with TRT is the required labs every 3-6 months if you're on it through insurance.
If you're on TRT without insurance then labs may not be necessary as often. This can be good or bad depending on how you look at it.
Well, a cycle usually doesn't give someone adequate time off for an accurate reading of labs if they're only coming off for 2 weeks right before the script renewal. Ideally you would want to have some labs that showed how your bloods looked without being on anything besides TRUE TRT.
Most bodybuilders (including myself) rarely do this until we have to. But throughout the entire time off everything but TRT, all you can think about is what you can get away with using without throwing off bloodwork for a future lab draw.

I hear it all the time with guys “your liver values shouldn't be skewed if you weren't using orals.” WRONG!
Anything you put into your body can have an effect on your liver. Just because it's not an oral drug doesn't mean that long-term, steady anabolic usage cannot elevate liver enzymes.
Kidney values are another important marker to watch as you continue to run gear long term. It's not a bad idea to cycle off other drugs outside of your TRT and lower your protein intake periodically.
Think of your organs like a car. When that car is new nothing is going to give you an issue. Once it's a few years old it's going to need replacement parts.
Your body is a lot like this; the first few years of cycling on and off steroids you may not have any issues. After 10+ years you may find a decent elevation in cholesterol levels, liver enzymes, a slightly lower kidney GFR, elevated BUN, among other various lab markers.
You may find that your thyroid function is getting lower or your insulin resistance is worse. The little things that nobody ever told you about COULD BE THE THINGS THAT BITE YOU IN THE ASS ONE DAY!
You are only going to play in the swamp for so long before you get bit by an alligator. My job is to keep you from getting bit!

I've also come to realize over time that staple supplements that assist in optimal health are more necessary than performance supplements if I'm usually on something. Even on just TRT I feel like some of these supplements are highly beneficial.
PROSTATE HEALTH – One of the issues that became more of a concern to me after getting on TRT was keeping my prostate healthy. Frequent urination, weak stream, trouble urinating steadily, and waking up and down throughout the night to piss is certainly no fun!
I decided that it was time to use a prostate supplement daily as a proactive measure to help keep things flowing smoothly. Not to mention, most of the compounds I like to use for longer durations are DHT derivatives such as Primobolan and Masteron, which although mild compounds in nature, CAN hit the prostate hard!
LIVER CARE – The thing you need to understand about the liver is that it plays a major part in all processes in the human body. The healthier your liver is the better you're actually going to respond to whatever drug it is you're using. Metabolism and fat loss, muscle building, and overall health all revolve around healthy liver values!
Some guys are only concerned about their liver when they get jaundice or something is blatantly wrong, but I'm here to tell you that the healthier you can keep that liver, the better the results from your cycle and/or TRT regimen! Someone that is using 100 mg/day of an oral steroid isn't always better than someone that is just using 30mg/day.
Furthermore, sometimes using a steroid can actually make you worse off than compared to using nothing at all when your liver isn't up to par!
The big question many will have is ,”Do I need to take a liver care supplement all the time?”
It really all depends on the labs. If labs show a steady liver count relatively close to normal range (I say “relatively close” because intense exercise almost always elevates enzymes slightly on the chart) then I would suggest using N2 Guard during the cycle.
If liver values are high while off-cycle, then consider taking more time off before starting a cycle and consider a liver care formula to use until the next set of labs. DO NOT DO A FULL BLOWN CYCLE UNTIL YOU GET LIVER VALUES BACK DOWN CLOSE TO NORMAL AGAIN!
HEART HEALTH/GYM PUMP – I take my beet root juice pre-workout at just 1 serving per day. This supplement creates a better NO2 effect in muscles (more pump) and it's heart healthy. Studies have shown that it provides large increases in VO2 max and can also help lower cholesterol and blood pressure. I'm not going to eat beets everyday and I hate them anyways, so it's a good way to get the heart health and blood viscosity benefits from beets by consuming beet root juice powder. Simply mix with water!
VITAMIN B-COMPLEX – A few years back I switched from taking a multi vitamin once/day to taking a vitamin B-complex vitamin once/day. Most people don't know that a vitamin B-complex vitamin contains all 8 essential B vitamins. This formula helps with fat metabolism, overall energy, immune system strength, and helps reduce stress in the body.
Not to mention, it's much more affordable than some of the other vitamin options available. Personally, I feel like the fancy “super vitamin packets formulated for bodybuilders” are the biggest scam going! Do not waste your money on a 1 month supply of vitamins for $40!

The thing about cycling steroids is that it's great until you realize that life goes on after the cycle ends. And either the cycle needs to end or health markers are going to force you to end it.
I cannot just come out and tell you exactly when you need to discontinue your cycle, but I can give safety parameters that would apply to most. However, at my level of experience in this game, the tell-tale markers of being able to put my foot to the floor or needing to back off is the bloodwork!
The ones that can stay healthy while continuing to make progress in the gym for the long haul are always going to come out ahead of the ones who ran a good whack of gear and then fell out of it altogether.
So many people are nothing more than a flash in a pan when it comes to steroid use. Not to mention, why on earth would you fuck up your own testosterone production and possibly damage your organs for something that isn't retainable unless you're in it for the long haul?
So you see, what happens is that the guy who was heavily involved in this for a brief period of time but then fell off becomes worse than the guy who never dabbled in the shit to begin with but has kept up with proper nutrition and hard training.
Now, the guy who knows his race car like the back of his hand is usually the guy who has the upper hand. By that I mean, he comes in for pit stops when he needs to, he knows what needs to be dropped out, replaced or added on and when to do it, and looks at the overall picture rather than just the next 12 weeks, that is the guy who wins the marathon in my book.
This article isn't geared towards the guys that are going to go nuts with gear for the next 12 weeks and then have no plan. This is geared towards the ones who accept this as a lifestyle, and one that sometimes doesn't come cheap.
But health markers need to be #1 here! As I've always said, nothing can replace a sound diet and hard training, the rest is just icing on the cake!
So remember friends, without health there IS NO BODYBUILDING! Once you are involved in performance enhancement and have been doing it a long time, it's imperative you get labs done, donate blood, and put more emphasis on health rather than simply performance/strength!
And again, the biggest reason for cycle discontinuation or a lower dosed cruise isn't for your muscle cell receptors, it's to allow your body to go back to functioning more along the lines of how nature intended it to function.
Factors such as improved sleep, glucose efficiency within the body, preventing thyroid burnout, and keeping cortisol levels lower are all things you want to take into consideration as reasons for breaks and cruises