First Steroid Cycle – Best Steroids for Beginners

Hey, I’m Juice and I consider myself just a regular mid-30s guy who happens to have a big interest in steroids and what they can (and can’t) do for us. I’ve been involved in learning everything there is to know about steroids for most of my adult life, and my goal is to help others like you learn about your first steroid cycle.

As a beginner to steroid cycling, it’s critical that you’re well informed about what you should and shouldn’t be doing. This article is intended for informational purposes only and does not take the place of professional medical advice.

Introduction to Anabolic-Androgenic Steroids

Like most people, you more than likely think of powerful, muscle building anabolic steroids when you hear the word “steroid“.

But there are many types of steroids – in fact, a steroid is just an organic compound that includes all different types of hormones and even one of the most well known vitamins (Vitamin D) is in fact a steroid.

When it comes to bodybuilding and athletic performance, we mainly talk about steroids in the form of anabolic-androgenic steroids. These steroids include both natural and synthetic androgens which are derived from or based on testosterone.

The anabolic component relates to the promotion of muscle growth, while the androgenic aspect relates to the stimulated development of male attributes that testosterone is responsible for. Below are some of the most common anabolic/androgenic steroids you will come across:

CompoundAndrogenic ValueAnabolic Value
Testosterone100100
Sustanon 250100100
Dianabol40-6090-210
Anadrol 5045320
Deca-Durabolin37125
Trenbolone500500
Anavar24322-630
Winstrol30320
Clenbuterol*N/AN/A

Note: Clenbuterol is a Beta-adrengic Agonist, not an anabolic–androgenic steroid (AAS).

Testosterone (Enanthate / Cypionate / Propionate)

Testosterone Enanthate
Testosterone Enanthate Structure

There are several testosterone esters including enanthate, cypionate and propionate. You don’t need a chemistry degree to work out which one is the best option for you, but it does help to know the differences between them.

Testosterone Enanthate is a hugely popular steroid and comes in dozens of brand names. It’s used for treating low testosterone and provides all the effects you’d expect from a test booster: muscle and strength gains along with enhancing male sex characteristics.

Its use by athletes focuses on its ability to boost muscle growth, help burn fat and speed up recovery. Testosterone Propionate is ideal for shorter cycles as it is slow release with a short half life.

There’s little difference between Test Cypionate and Enanthate with the most notable being that Cypionate has a longer half life. With such similar characteristics, both Test E and C are generally considered interchangeable. All of these testosterone derivatives are injectable. If you are thinking of running a Testosterone only cycle then take a look at our full Testosterone review and cycle guide.

Sustanon 250 (Testosterone Propionate / Phenylpropionate / Isocaproate / Decanoate)

Sustanon 250 Structure
Sustanon 250 Structure

Sustanon 250 is a popular synthetic testosterone androgen-anabolic steroid often medically used as an injection to treat the problem of low testosterone in men.

There are four testosterone ester compounds in Sustanon 250 and all these active substances become testosterone once in the body once Sustanon 250 is injected.

Because testosterone is an androgen, this steroid brings about effects of increased masculinisation but in men this can result in hair loss due to excess DHT. But it also stimulates red blood cell production which is a critical aspect of muscle growth.

Bodybuilders use Sustanon 250 to gain bulk and muscle mass, improve recovery, increase stamina and energy, and to retain a heightened anabolic state. If you’re interested in running a Sustanon 250 cycle, take a look at our complete Testosterone cycle guide above.

Dianabol (Methandrostenolone)

Methandrostenolone Structure
Methandrostenolone Structure

Dianabol is the most well known of the Methandrostenolone group of steroids and was the first ever androgen and anabolic steroid steroid to become available way back in the 1950s where it was used for increasing muscle mass and strength – just as it continues to be used today.

It is very effective for bulking and gaining mass during short time periods. Dianabol can also increase levels of estrogen because it can aromatize, which brings some potential side effects like gynecomastia (increased breast tissue) and fluid retention. See our in-depth Dianabol cycle guide for more information.

Trenbolone (Tren)

Trenbolone Acetate Structure
Trenbolone Acetate Structure

This is an AA steroid that’s used in the livestock industry to increase muscle growth in cattle. Only some esters of Tren are available with Trenbolone itself not available. In veterinary use the ester Trenbolone acetate is used, while other Tren esters include enanthate and hexahydrobenzylcarbonate.

Tren acetate is considered the fastest acting form that is favored by bodybuilders with noticeable effects and progress coming on within days and with no fluid retention, compared with Tren enanthate which can take several weeks to start kicking in.

Tren is considered one of the most powerful steroids which has shown to be up to five times stronger and more effective than testosterone itself. Click here for our full Trenbolone review and cycle guide.

Winstrol (Stanozolol)

Stanozolol Structure
Stanozolol Structure

Stanozolol is a synthetic AA steroid which is a derivative of dihydrotestosterone (DHT).

It’s notable for its power to increase strength, but it’s no slouch in the muscle growth department either and a benefit is that it doesn’t aromatize so is less likely to have you experiencing things like water retention.

The modified DHT that was formed into the synthetic Stanozolol has its anabolic properties increased – for muscle and strength gains, and it’s androgenic properties reduced. Winstrol is the most well known brand of stanozolol and is used both orally and as an injectable. If you’re interested in running a Winstrol only cycle, take a look at our complete Winstrol cycle guide.

Deca-Durabolin (Nandrolone Decanoate)

Nandrolone Decanoate Structure
Nandrolone Decanoate Structure

Nandrolone decanoate is one of the most widely used androgenic-anabolic steroids. Studies have proven that Nandrolone brings about significant muscle mass increases in male bodybuilders.

Deca-Durabolin is the most well known brand of ND and is used by intramuscular injection.

Deca has relatively weak androgenic effects but very strong anabolic effects which gives it a reduced risk of side effects compared with some other steroids. If you are interested in a Deca-Durabolin only cycle, then check out our Deca cycle guide.

Anadrol (Oxymetholone)

Oxymetholone Structure
Oxymetholone Structure

Used medically to treat osteoporosis, anemia and wasting syndrome, Oxymetholone is also used as an AA steroid by bodybuilders for its ability to boost muscle growth and strength by increasing testosterone levels plus improving recovery and stamina by reducing or delaying fatigue as a result of increased red blood cell production getting more oxygen to the muscles. Its use as a treatment for anemia is a testament to its ability to improve red blood cell count.

Anadrol is one of the most well known brand names of Oxymetholone and is a popular oral steroid known for its ability to deliver hardcore strength and mass gains very quickly. Anadrol has a reputation as one of the most powerful and effective anabolic steroids with excellent anabolic effects and weaker androgenic effects. Click here to see our full Anadrol review and cycle guide.

Clenbuterol (Clen)

Clenbuterol Structure
Clenbuterol Structure

Clenbuterol is a stimulant that has some similar properties to anabolic steroids and was originally developed to treat breathing disorders, but has become popular amongst bodybuilders and athletes to reduce body fat and grow muscle due to its similar effects to drugs like ephedrine.

It’s mainly used as a fat burner and to help increase muscle definition because of its potential to increase thermogenesis and metabolism. Clenbuterol is popularly used during cutting cycles to maximize fat loss. Check out our complete Clenbuterol cycle guide.

Anavar (Oxandrolone)

Oxandrolone Structure
Oxandrolone Structure

Anavar is the well known brand name of Oxandrolone and is a androgen and anabolic steroid medically used for promoting weight gain after illness or injury, as well as for other conditions like osteoporosis and anemia.

When it comes to bodybuilding, Oxandrolone is popular because it’s highly anabolic and minimally androgenic therefore it’s often chosen by those not wanting to use some of the more powerful steroids out there, including by women.

Anavar does not require injections and is taken orally as a tablet, which is another attractive benefit for those new to using steroids. If you’re interested in running an Anavar cycle, see our full Anavar review and cycle guide.

Steroid Half-Lives? What Is a Half-Life?

The elimination half-life of any drug or substance, including steroids, is a measure of how long it takes for a 50% reduction of the steroid concentration to remain in the blood or body. Knowing the half life of a steroid you’re taking makes it easy to plan your cycles, know which steroids to use and how long you should use them for.

It will also allow you to know what’s happening in your body if you’re faced with substance testing. The half life of a steroid remains the same no matter what your dosage is or how long you’ve been using it. The following is a list of the most popular anabolic steroids and their half-lives:

CompoundActive Half-lifeDetection Time
Anadrol 8 to 9 hours8 weeks
Sustanon 25015 - 18 days3 months
Deca-Durabolin15 days18 months
Dianabol4.5 to 6 hours6 weeks
Anavar9 hours3 weeks
Winstrol9 hours3 weeks
Winstrol Depot1 day9 weeks
Testosterone Cypionate 12 days3 months
Testosterone Enanthate 10.5 days3 months
Testosterone Propionate3 - 4.5 days2 weeks
Testosterone Suspension1 day1-2 days
Trenbolone Acetate3 days5 months
Trenbolone Enanthate8 days5 months
Clenbuterol1.5 days4-6 days
Arimidex*2-3 days2 weeks
Clomid*5-7 days2 months
Nolvadex*7-14 days2 months

Note: Clomid (Clomiphene Citrate), Nolvadex (Tamoxifen) and Arimidex (Anastrozole) are ancillaries usually used during a post-cycle therapy (PCT).

Half life length can vary considerably between different steroid types. For example, Deca-Durabolin has a long half life of 15 days, while Winstrol has a very short half life of just 9 hours. Steroids with a longer half life take longer to withdraw from compared to those with shorter half lives.

Injectable and oral steroids

Some steroids come in an injectable form only, while others are available as an oral form. Very few, such as Winstrol, can be injected or taken orally.

Understandably, if you’re new to using steroids then starting with injections is going to seem daunting; you may even want to avoid it altogether and select only those steroids which are orals. But this does limit you to a small number of steroids like Anavar and Dianabol.

Oral forms of AA steroids:

  • Methandrostenolone (Dianabol), or “Dbol”
  • Oxandrolone (Anavar, Oxandrin), or “Var”
  • Oxymetholone (Anadrol), or “Drol”
  • Stanozolol (Winstrol), or “Winny”
  • Clenbuterol, or Clen
  • Testosterone Anadoil

Injectable forms of AA steroids:

  • Nandrolone decanoate (Deca-Durabolin), or “Deca”
  • Testosterone cypionate
  • Testosterone enanthate
  • Testosterone propionate
  • Trenbolone acetate, or “Tren”
  • Equipoise (Boldenone Undecylenate)
  • Stanozolol (Winstrol Depot), or “Winny”

One of the big downsides to oral steroids is their toxicity to the liver. The level of liver toxicity differs between steroids, dosage, duration of use and your individual response.

Choosing injectable steroids opens up your choices to a wider range of products. Oral steroids are generally taken daily due to their shorter half life, while an injection might be once or twice weekly. Steroids are injected intramuscularly – directly into the muscle – and not intravenously.

Learning how to inject steroids properly and safely is critical if you are to gain confidence in using this form of androgen and anabolic steroid.

Short guide on How to inject steroids

Like doing anything for the first time, injecting steroids will take some time to become used to. But you can significantly decrease your risks of having anything going wrong just by following some basic safety and common sense procedures, by taking your time the first few times.

It won’t be long until you feel confident with injecting.

Hygiene is critical: wash your hands, only used new and sterile needles and clean the injection site with an antibacterial cleanser both before and after injecting. And it goes without saying – don’t share needles.

Steroids are injected straight into your muscle. Choosing the best muscle or the one you are most comfortable with is something you’ll want to think about as there are pros and cons to selecting various muscles.

The glutes are large muscles with less nerves and are a popular newbie choice, despite the fact you need to twist to get into position – after a few times this will become easier.

Other muscle injecting sites include the thigh which is easily accessible, plus the deltoids, triceps and biceps. Injection sites should be rotated so each location can recover.

You might feel tense on your first few injection attempts, but it’s important to remain calm and allow the muscle to relax. Once you’ve drawn up your measured dose into the syringe, place it over your injection site.

You’ll want to be sure you haven’t hit a vein and the best way to do that is to pull back on the plunger to see if any blood is extracted. If so, try another spot (using a new needle if you wish). Once you’re happy with the location, push down on the syringe plunger at a steady pace: not too fast.

Once you’ve removed the needle, swab the site for a for a minute and ensure it’s kept clean. The better your injecting technique becomes, the less risk of soreness you’ll experience.

Cycling, Stacking, and Pyramiding Steroids

These are three of the usage methods or patterns that can be applied to steroid use. The one you select will depend on what goals you have, with bodybuilders and athletes requiring different methods to achieve the maximum possible effect.

Cycling steroids

Cycling is used by people who know exactly what they want to achieve and when, as well as when they want to be steroid-free when it comes to being tested.

Cycling is essentially an on-off strategy and one of the big reasons it’s done is to avoid the diminishing effects of steroids after they’ve been continually taken for around two months, where muscle gain can start to slow. Cycling requires a plan as you’ll be deciding how long you want to take the steroid for, and how long the break in between will be when you stop using it.

A cycle can range anywhere from a few weeks up to several months of usage, followed by a period of time with either no steroid use at all, or using at a lower dosage. Your cycle length will depend on your experience with steroids, which steroid you’re taking, and what goals you’re trying to achieve.

Stacking steroids

More experienced steroid users might try stacking and as you might guess, this involves using more than one type of steroid at a time. Combining two or more steroids that each have different actions or effects on the body is one way of attempting to achieve a much more powerful result.

One of the main steroid stacking strategies is to stack a short acting and long acting steroid, or to combine oral and injectable steroids in a stack.

Pyramiding steroids

Just like the shape of a pyramid, this method is centred on beginning with a low dose and gradually increasing your steroid dosage so that your peak dose is in the middle of the cycle. This is the top of the pyramid, after which you then begin gradually decreasing the dosage until you get back to zero.

Unlike cycling where you might abruptly stop using steroids completely at the end of a cycle, pyramiding allowed you to slowly taper off. One of the main reasons users choose the pyramid method is to help adjust to higher doses while trying to avoid overloading the natural hormone system of the body and giving it time to readjust when the dosage is lowered in the second part of the pyramid.

Cycle Length Guide

How long should you run your steroid cycles for? This will depend on several factors but the main ones are going to be which steroid compound (or compounds) you want to use, and what your overall goals are (plus if you expect to be faced with any sort of drug testing at any stage).

Short cycles (3-4 weeks)

Lasting just two or three weeks, a short cycle can be useful at two extreme ends – either for getting very rapid gains by essentially blasting the body with very high doses (not recommended for any beginner), or if you’re happy with some steady but slower gains without overloading your body with substances.

The benefit of the latter is, when done with 3 or 4 weeks off cycle, a short and steady cycle reduces health and side effects risks to the lowest possible level.

Medium cycles (6-8 weeks)

A 6 to 8 weeks cycle is useful for gaining lean mass or cutting over a moderate period of time where you put in serious diet and gym work, while allowing to run around 3 cycles per year with adequate time during the off cycle period without the risk of diminishing gains which can happen if you’re cycle extends for too long.

This time frame also reduces side effects, although this will heavily depend on what compounds you’re using. Medium cycles do restrict you to making the gains you want during these few weeks so you’ll be fairly limited to faster acting compounds. Testosterone propionate injections are often the ester of choice for a medium cycle

Standard cycles (10-12 weeks)

Lasting from 10 to 12 weeks, standard cycle lengths are suited to new steroid users as well as those with more experience, with benefits for both bulking and cutting depending on you goals and which steroid compounds you’re using.

This period of time is considered optimal because it allows you to make gains for the longest possible time, until you reach the point where gaining muscle starts to diminish and plateau, and potentially stop altogether. This eliminates any wasting of time (and steroids) if your body is not going to make gains – instead allowing you to go off cycle and clear your system in preparation for the start of the next cycle.

Long cycles (3-9 months)

This is only recommended for long-time, highly experienced or older users who have no concern about natural testosterone levels. Some people believe that very long cycles ranging from 3 to 9 months can bring about permanent gains.

Testosterone enanthate or cypionate are the compounds most commonly used in a long cycle. As expected, the heightened risk of serious side effects of these extra long steroid cycles makes it a strategy that shouldn’t be taken lightly.

Beginner Steroid Cycle

Which steroid compounds to use for my beginner cycle?

Selecting a shorter half life steroid as your first makes it easier to get over any initial side effects when the steroid eliminates from your system sooner. Striking a balance between effective results and mild side effects is important for a beginner. That means keeping the dosage moderate and carefully considering which compounds to use first.

The biggest factor you’re probably thinking about is “Do I go orals or injectables?“. Orals are no doubt much less daunting than injecting for the first time, but it does significantly limit the compounds you’ll be able to use, plus how long you’ll be able to use it. While orals are easier to take, they come with toxic side effects to the liver so.

Whichever form you decide to use for your beginner cycle, your next step is to figure out which steroid compounds you’re going to kick things off with.

Beginner Cycle Examples (Ideas)

– Testosterone enanthate only cycle:

WeekTestosterone EnanthatePCT
1 - 10500mg weekly-
11 - 12--
13 - 15-Clomid, Nolvadex

Testosterone Enanthate only cycle will help keep your testosterone levels up if you’re going to be using other steroids in your cycle that can suppress test levels. The goal of using Test enanthate is to retain your testosterone levels at the highest possible level throughout your cycle, so dosage across the cycle can vary but as a beginner you’ll be looking at using up to 500mg each week. This compound boosts production of red blood cells and gives noticeable gains in muscle mass and endurance.

– Dianabol only cycle:

WeekDianabolPCT
1 - 530mg daily-
6 - 8-Clomid, Nolvadex

Dianabol only cycle is a common beginner choice because it’s an oral compound, so it’s simple to take and helps you avoid injecting. You’ll only be doing a 6 week cycle on Dianabol to avoid liver toxicity. You will also need to watch out for androgenic side effects and considering taking aromatase inhibitor drugs alongside it to reduce estrogen and minimize these side effects. A big benefit to Dbol as a beginner cycle choice is its very short half life, so if you change your mind it won’t take long to exit your system.

– Nandrolone only cycle:

WeekNandrolone DecanoatePCT
1 - 5200mg weekly-
6 - 7--
8 - 10-Clomid, Nolvadex

A cycle of Nandrolone for your first beginner attempt puts you in a class of steroids that are very popular but does require intramuscular injections. As a beginner cycle, you will want to start at a half dose twice a week, then increase the dose to the full level of 200mg as a weekly injection.

Beginners need to remember that steroids are not going to build muscle or give you massive strength on their own: your results will come down to your dedication in the gym, to your diet and how hard you’re willing to train to get the absolute maximum results your body is capable of with the use of steroids.

Side effects from your first steroid cycle

It’s really important to play close attention to how you’re responding to the effects of steroids after you start taking them.

You’ll soon notice which, if any, particular side effects are going to start causing issues for you, and it won’t necessarily be the same effect that you’ve heard of someone else experiencing with the same steroid: every person is different.

It’s the androgenic type side effects from some steroids that you’ve probably heard about often: oily skin, acne, anger issues. Not everyone will experience these side effects, with some guys being more prone to them.

If you’ve never had acne in your life you’re less likely to get it after using steroids compared with someone who had massive breakouts in his teens. The same goes with baldness and whether there’s a genetic predisposition for it in your family history.

Advanced Steroid Cycle

Advanced cycles are only to be considered if you’ve been doing less powerful cycles for some time and have got a comfortable grip on what effect certain steroids have on your body, and have gained the confidence that you’re ready to move up the ranks to a more advanced user of steroid compounds.

A more advanced steroid cycle might consist of several steroid compounds; in essence a stack that is used on a cycle schedule. A common example of this could be combining Testosterone (cypionate or enanthate), Deca, Dianabol and Anavar. Consider this advanced bulking cycle:

A 16 week cycle consisting of 1000mg of Testosterone weekly, 600mg of Deca weekly, 70mg of Dianabol per day for the first 5 weeks, which is then stopped and substituted with Anavar from week 5 to 16 at 100mg daily. As with all cycles, post cycle therapy is critical.

Stacking Steroids Examples

Bulking, cutting, strength and performance are the big reasons that anyone uses anabolic steroids.

You might have one or more of these goals, but ultimately what you want to achieve from your steroid cycles is going to determine what you take and how you take them. Bulking and cutting while retaining muscle mass are two areas I focus on below with these steroid stack examples.

As you would expect, added benefits like increased strength, endurance and performance are going to come with the use of these compounds which is ultimately what helps you break through all your plateaus and previous records at the gym once you’re on a cycle.

Stacking steroids comes with greater potential results but also with increased risks, and these also need to be considered. Check out these two steroid stack examples:

– Testosterone Enanthate and Dianabol cycle:

WeekTestosterone EnanthateMethandrostenolone
1 - 4500mg weekly30mg daily
5 - 10500mg weeklyOFF
11 - 12-_
13 - 15PCT (Clomid, Nolvadex)

– Testosterone Enanthate and Nandrolone Decanoate cycle:

WeekTestosterone EnanthateNandrolone Decanoate
1 - 10500mg weekly400mg weekly
11 - 13-_
14 - 17PCT (Clomid, Nolvadex)

Bulking Up

Steroids are the quickest way of building mass and strength fast. Stacking with some or all of these steroids help you increase your capacity for quick bulking and is an option for advanced users who are aware of the possible side effects and how to combat them.

Testosterone – you can’t go wrong with including test in a stack. Using a lower dose compared with when using just testosterone alone in a cycle is generally recommended, for example testosterone cypionate at 200mg. Testosterone stacks well with basically every other steroid, particular for mas building when used with dianabol and deca-durabolin.

Trenbolone – way more powerful than testosterone and extremely useful for both bulking and cutting, it boosts the powerful anabolic hormone IGF-1 which increases lean body mass. Trenbolone boosts metabolism and also comes with the benefit of not causing water retention, although there are other possible side effects with this steroid.

Deca-Durabolin – perfect for bulking and strength, Nandrolone boosts collagen synthesis and bone density which strengthens joints and provides support for your mass gains while increasing capacity to continually lift heavier weights.

Dianabol – an oral steroid providing big muscle and strength gains which boosts nitrogen retention and works fast, making this a staple compound in most advanced stacks.

Anadrol – one of the most powerful steroids for raw strength and mass gains and quoted as having tripe the anabolic power of testosterone, it’s little wonder advanced steroid users turn to Anadrol in a stack. Power and stamina shoot through the roof, giving you the ability to obliterate your personal best in the gym and lift weights well beyond your normal level.

Getting Ripped While Maintaining Muscle Mass

A steroid stack for cutting critically needs to ensure you don’t lose your hard earned gains while shredding fat and getting ripped and conditioned, whether for competition or for your own personal goals.

Testosterone – essential for fat loss and prevention of excess fat storage in guys, testosterone plays a vital role in any cutting stack or cycle. Low test brings about fat gain and difficulty in gaining and maintaining muscle.

Trenbolone – with many benefits including speeding up the metabolism to get fat burning happening faster. Without the water retention problems of other steroids, Tren keeps you dry and lean and is an ultimate cutting and conditioning steroid.

Winstrol – well known for its ability to boost fat loss while helping retain muscle, Winstrol will also help you recover faster. This is one of the few steroids available as both oral and injectable, but keep in mind the oral form has a short half life of just 9 hours while the injections rates at a 24 hour half life.

Anavar – this is an excellent addition to a cutting and conditioning stack and is generally a go-to steroid for these purposes. Why? Because it’s well known Anavar hardens the muscles while also helping retain muscle while you’re getting rid of fat. There are other benefits to Anavar in the area of enhancing stamina and energy because it boosts red blood cells. Despite its reputation for being a highly effective steroid, it’s still a relatively mild oral compared with other compounds.

Clenbuterol – often considered more of a stimulant than a true steroid, Clen is notorious as a powerful fat burner that works by increasing thermogenesis which raises the metabolism. This helps burn off stored fat as the body is in a constant state of a heightened metabolic rate; even while at rest. Clen does come with potentially serious side effects and health complications.

Common Side Effects of Steroid Use

There’s no denying that using any steroid is going to put you at risk of some side effects. You can reduce the risk of unwanted side effects by using steroids in lower doses, however there is no way to completely eliminate both the mild and potentially dangerous risks involved in using anabolic steroids. Some of the common side effects people experience include:

CompoundSide EffectsGains*
TestosteroneEdema, hair loss, gynoModerate-High
Sustanon 250Acne, liver, nausea, gynoModerate-High
DianabolHair loss, edema, gyno, liverModerate
Anadrol 50Liver, edemaModerate-High
Deca-DurabolinSlight EdemaModerate-High
TrenboloneOily skin, acne, hair lossModerate-High
AnavarLiverModerate
WinstrolLiverModerate
ClenbuterolInsomnia, headache, nauseaModerate

Note: “Gains” defines how much muscle mass you’ll put on.

Fluid retention

Due to the quick increases in muscle gain that anabolic steroids product, soft or bloated looking muscle can occur because of fluid retention. Water retention can also make your face look bloated.

Acne and Oily Skin

If you were prone to acne before starting steroids, you’re more likely to experience this as a side effect in addition to acne related conditions like oily skin as well as noticeably more oily hair. The acne can become severe for some people. The skin’s oil glands are more susceptible to infection and inflammation because of the steroid’s effects on the sebaceous glands.

Mood swings, irritability and anger

Heavy use of anabolic steroids is known to heighten the risk of negative emotional and behavioral changes like aggressiveness and mood swings. This has been linked to the term “roid rage” and can, in severe cases, has a disastrous effect on personal relationships, employment and other aspects of life.

Sleep difficulty

Research has found that many people who use anabolic androgenic steroids reporting experiencing a sleep disorder, and one sleep study showed that steroid users are prone to reduced efficiency of sleep and alterations to normal sleep patterns.

Premature Baldness

Using androgenic steroids can induce male pattern baldness in young guys who are predisposed to it – so if you’re dad has a receding hair line then you’re at a higher risk of this side effect no matter how young you are.

Gynecomastia

Otherwise known as the dreaded man boobs or simply as gyno, this is an enlargement of the breast tissue in males. A method of reducing or eliminating the risk of gyno when using steroids is to make use of anti-aromatase and anti-estrogen substances. Once gynecomastia is allowed to develop, you can’t reverse the effects except with surgery, so it’s critical you get on top of any signs of breast enlargement as soon as you notice it, including sensitivity and itching of the area which are usually the first noticeable signs.

Testicular Atrophy

No guy wants shrunken testicles, but this is a real side effect risk with some anabolic steroids because of the massive boost of synthetic testosterone you’re getting, which tells the body it doesn’t need to keep producing testosterone the natural way – via the testicles. So they start shrinking. It’s not just the size that reduces though, with sperm count also decreasing bringing about reduced fertility. This is one of the most dreaded of all side effects from steroid use.

The most severe side effects that heavy and long term users of steroids are at risk of can extend to liver damage, kidney cancer, stroke and heart attack.

If you’re a male in your late teens and early 20s who is still physically developing you have a higher risk of negative side effects like acne and scarring, stunted growth, stretch marks and aged skin.

Stopping the use of a steroid cycle or quitting steroids altogether can bring about depression, tiredness, weight loss and loss of strength while your body takes several months to build testosterone levels back to where they naturally should be.

PCT (post cycle therapy) after your first cycle

Beginners might overlook the necessity of PCT after a steroid cycle, but post cycle therapy is just as important as the cycle itself. Steroids cause havoc with the body’s natural processes, including testosterone and other hormone production, so once you come off a cycle you need to encourage your body to begin producing hormones naturally again, without relying on artificial steroids.

PCT is important both for preventing steroid side effects as well as for helping maintain the muscle gains you’ve made during your cycle. But when to start your PCT protocol after ceasing your cycle? Here is a quick reference table:

CompoundWhen to start after last admissionDuration of PCT
Testosterone Enanthate2 weeks3 weeks
Testosterone Cypionate2 weeks3 weeks
Testosterone Propionate3 days3 weeks
Testosterone Suspension6-8 hours3 weeks
Sustanon 2503 weeks3 weeks
Winstrol12 hours2-3 weeks
Dianabol6-8 hours3 weeks
Trenbolone Acetate3 days4 weeks
Deca-Durabolin3 weeks4 weeks
Anavar8-10 hours2 weeks
Anadrol8-9 hours2 weeks

PCT usually lasts between 3 to 6 weeks or a little longer. These are some of the most common PCT drugs people use for their post-cycle therapy:

PCTClomidNolvadex
Day 1250mg60mg
Following 10 days100mg40mg
Following 10 days50mg20mg

Clomid (Clomiphene Citrate)

This is a selective estrogen receptor modulator (SERM) which helps block estrogen and associated side effects and thus, boost testosterone. Clomid will give your testicles a much needed prod to begin producing more testosterone naturally again while not relying on the effects of steroids. Clomid is considered one of the more powerful PCT options and is used by people who are doing more advanced steroids or stacking multiple steroids.

Nolvadex (Tamoxifen)

Often used alongside Clomid, Nolvadex is a female breast cancer treatment drug that suppresses estrogen which helps get your testosterone levels back where they need to be. Side effect risk with Nolvadex is minimal compared to Clomid which makes it a popular option and most guys will use it for PCT for about 4 weeks.

Aromatase inhibitors – Arimidex (Anastrozole)

These are another type of drug developed for breast cancer treatment in women, but are also used to treat gyno in men. They’re of interest to steroid users because of their estrogen conversion reducing function. Two of the most popular drugs of this type for steroid users are Arimidex and Aromasin. As an anti-estrogen, Arimidex is used to reduce the estrogenic side effects of steroid use like gyno, water retention and reduced testosterone production. Arimidex works to lower estrogen by blocking the aromatase enzyme that converts testosterone to estrogen.

Making PCT a critical part of every steroid cycle is a habit you will need to get into, starting from your very first cycle as a beginner. These and other PCT drugs come with their own potential side effects so always do your research before deciding which ones to use. Check out our full comprehensive PCT guide to fully understand what is required for a productive post cycle therapy.

Common Q&A related to steroid cycles

When you’re new to steroids you are likely to have a lot of questions. Below are some of the most common questions I see being asked by people considering using steroids for the first time:

What are anabolic androgenic steroids (AAS)?

These are steroids which are synthetic derivatives of testosterone which give similar effects to that male hormone. Because testosterone is so critical in the process building of muscle and strength, taking AAS substances substantially boosts your ability to gain muscle mass, burn fat, and recover faster. The androgenic side of some of these steroids can result in masculinizing side effects which is why advanced users aim to use steroid types that have more powerful anabolic effects, and reduced androgenic effects.

Is it safe to inject steroids? Does it hurt?

Maintaining common sense hygiene and safety practices ensures you won’t be risking your health with any sort of infections when using steroid injections. When it comes to the best location for your injections – as a beginner it’s often recommended to start at one of the biggest muscles – the buttock area. The top right or left area is the gluteus maximus muscle and is going to be the least painful location. To avoid pain and irritation, rotate your injection sites each time and don’t inject into the same muscle without letting it recover.

What age should I start using steroids?

Many people think it;s a waste to begin using steroids use below age 30, and particularly below age 25 because natural testosterone levels are so high during this time that you should be making the most of it. Older guys who are seeing a natural decrease in testosterone as they age will often turn to steroids to maintain the positive benefits of testosterone – including gaining muscle, but most also note a significant boost in all over mental and physical well being so long as the steroids are not abused.

What should my diet and training be like when I’m on a steroid cycle?

Plenty of protein is a must while on a cycle since steroids boost protein synthesis which in turn is what builds muscle. You want to maintain your fuel and never allow the muscles to become depleted. The better you eat while on a cycle, the better your results will be. The same goes for your training: while on a cycle your body is ready to be pushed to the maximum limit. Your gains will come on thick and fast, but only those who are dedicated to lifting the heaviest weights and pushing through the toughest reps until absolute muscle exhaustion will reap the maximum potential benefits that can be had by using steroids.

What is an ester?

Ester is a chemistry term relating to the modification of compounds. This gives us varying forms of similar steroids: for example, there are multiple types of testosterone esters which are very similar in chemical structure, but with slight differences which are enough to give each ester a different effect on the body. There are dozens of testosterone esters but only a few are commonly used by AAS users.

Should I take anti-estrogen drugs with steroids?

Some steroids can increase the female hormone estrogen by bringing about an imbalance in hormones that leads to the aromatase enzyme converting too much testosterone into estrogen, causing distressing side effects. For this reason, users of steroids that are known to have this effects will make use of anti-estrogen drugs known as aromatase inhibitors. Many of these are cancer medications made for women and are not always simple to get your hands on.

What is gyno?

Short for gynecomastia – male breast growth which is a common side effect of some steroid use. If too much estrogen conversion happens, gyno comes about and it’s not reversible besides with surgery like liposuction. This swelling of the breast tissue is one of the most visible and embarrassing potential side effects of steroid use and undoubtably one that guys to great lengths to try and prevent. Anadrol and Dianabol are two of the steroids known to come with a higher risk of gyno development.

Will steroids give me acne or make me bald?

Male pattern baldness and acne type skin conditions are certainly two possible side effects of anabolic steroid use. Out of the two, acne is considered the more common side effect, with baldness being higher risk if your male ancestors passed on baldness genes. Acne comes about due to increased activity of the oil producing sebaceous glands thanks to the androgen effects of some steroids. One study found that over 40% of anabolic and androgenic steroid users experienced acne, particularly on the face and back. The good news is that acne can disappear once you stop the steroid, however baldness is more permanent.

Will steroids affect my sex drive?

A boost of the libido is common when using AAS compounds. Many guys notice a concerning drop in their sex drive after stopping steroids. This is due to the body’s natural testosterone production being significantly reduced or stopping altogether, which is why post cycle therapy is so important once you come off a steroid cycle as you aim to get your natural hormone levels back to normal.

How fast do anabolic steroids work?

Every steroid is different when it comes to how quick you can start seeing results, and your training and diet regime will play a significant role in how big you’re going to get and how fast you’ll get there. Injectable steroids naturally work much faster than orals like Dianabol. For most steroids you are looking at a few weeks, which is why you need to stick to a recommended cycle length according to which AAS you’re going to use.

What happens when you stop taking steroids?

Although anabolic steroids are not a drug that brings about physical addiction, users can experience mood swings, anxiety, depression and other negative effects when stopping steroid use due to a sudden hormonal imbalance and low testosterone. Steroids with a longer half life take longer to withdraw from. This is why it’s critical to work on restoring the natural hormone balance after using AAS compounds.

This page was last updated on by Juice

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