About a week ago, I was eating breakfast and going through my messages when I came across the following message sent to me:
“Heya, I have a question as u r a professional. I recently moved to <location redacted> & I got:
2x Deca 300mg
2x Propionate 100mg
2x Enanthate 250mg
What’s the best way to cycle them?”
I was a little flattered that after almost a decade trying to unskinny myself, someone came across me and thought I had built a physique worthy enough to be assumed to be an expert in this. Mostly, I was thinking what an idiot someone must be to acquire powerful prescription drugs – of any sort – and is asking some random person on the Internet how to use them. I debated about writing about it, but chances are that there are other people that do this. So, the advice I gave him is below.
First, an aside: Whether performance enhancing drugs (PEDs), pain medications, or any other type of drug, laws and regulations vary greatly from country to country. PEDs are a controversial and complex topic in the US. Many people say they are against the use, but then sit down each fall weekend and watch quite a few college and professional American football players with physiques and bodyweights that are obviously enhanced. Several studies in the US over the last several claim about 1M-3M people, mostly males, use or have used PEDs. Those numbers might be underestimated given that not everyone surveyed may be fully honest in admitting usage of them. With such numbers, the typical profile of a user is not a juiced-up professional bodybuilder, but rather a man in his 30s looking to improve his own appearance. The concept of use and cheating also varies and is cultural. Some organizing sports bodies do not have rules on the use of some PEDs. With some sports being international, some competitors come from countries where many PEDs are available without prescription over the counter. The purpose here is to not endorse use, but address the issue of people deciding to take powerful agents without understanding what they are about to do.
Having been seriously lifting for many years, I have figured out a long time ago that drugs play a factor in not only the iron sports (powerlifting, bodybuilding), but many other sports that require elite performance. I have heard countless discussions around the advice and wisdom on the topic over the last decade. Some of that advice was, quite frankly, frightening (one time I overheard a coach talk to a woman wanting to compete in bikini about a cycle of drugs to take — a bikini competitor!). Other advice, often repeated by long term, top level competitors or coaches about their own protocols, seemed to be grounded in common sense. With all that, the answer to the original question I received was the following advice:
- If you are planning to take these powerful drugs and have no idea on how to, you have absolutely no business taking them. If you are hell-bent on taking them, you need to find someone who is knowledgeable to work with.
- If you do insist on taking them, you need to do blood work before you begin as well as after you run through the cycle. People take these drugs since they have powerful results; otherwise, they wouldn’t go through the effort of trying to get them. Powerful pharmaceuticals also inevitably have powerful side effects. Almost all anabolics are going to impact cholesterol numbers negatively (good cholesterol HDL numbers go down, while LDL goes up). Some classes will stress and impact the liver negatively. If you have pre-existing health problems, they may become even more acute with using such drugs. As with any medication, taking other medications as well may also create unpleasant interactions. In addition, drinking large amounts of alcohol while taking types of steroids that are hard on the liver is also asking for even more trouble.
- More is not better. Not surprisingly, people trying to do everything they can to reach an extreme level of performance run the mindset of more and more is better. Worse is that some of the most popular physique personalities on social media are not professional bodybuilders, but rather people who have built a large cult of personality on “reality star”-type exploits like taking and promoting huge amounts of steroids and other drugs. All medications have a toxicity level where a tipping point of good effects become overwhelmed by the negative side effects.
- You need to invest in supplements to try to reduce the negative side effects. That includes supplements to support heart health, liver care, etc. You will need an anti-estrogen to counteract the inevitable rise in estrogen that comes from trying to elevate testosterone levels well above what the body can do on its own. Negative side effects of that in men include an increase in fatty tissue around the nipples (gynecomastia, or simply referred to as “gyno”), that can only be remedied by surgery. I recently overhead a coach scold a client who was going in to have surgery to remove his new mini-breasts about what an idiot he was to allow that to happen by not taking any anti-estrogen he had been told to take. If you can’t afford all these, then go back to the first bullet about not having any business dabbling in this area.
- You will need to run a PCT (post-cycle therapy) to try to get back some semblance of normal hormone activity. Taking large doses of testosterone causes the shutdown of the body naturally producing testosterone since the body detects so much of it is around.
Questions? Reach out to me on this or other training and diet questions.