by Brock Strasser
I have some news for you that should change the way you look at and subsequently use and cycle anabolic steroids. For the longest time, weíve developed and based our cycling theories on the limited pharmacodynamic and pharmacokinetic data that weíve extrapolated from primarily murine (mice) and rat models. I donít have to tell you that the effects a steroid has on a rodent probably arenít homologous to the effects that a steroid will have on a human. Sure, they run around their cages flexing in the mirror all the time and tend to be more popular with all the lady mice, but despite this similarity with humans, there are differences.
After all, in rodents, steroids like Primobolan (methenolone esters) are better mass builders than Testosterone. Try telling any bodybuilder he should give up his DepoTest for Primobolan and at the very least, youíll get laughed at. The rest of the "data" weíve used comes from anecdotal reports overheard in the gym and on internet message boards. This isnít exactly the most reliable data either, considering some people have hidden agendas (e.g. theyíre selling a particular steroid) or they arenít entirely forthcoming regarding what they used, when they used, and how much. And I havenít even mentioned the "fudge factor" and imaginary gains claimed by some so they wonít appear to be slackers in the gym.
Because of this, perhaps more so than in any other therapeutic area in medicine, we donít know a whole lot about steroids and how they interact with the human body. Iím going to change all that. Iíve located a mind-expanding study conducted on humans using two anabolic steroids, nandrolone phenylpropionate and nandrolone decanoate. My article here, based entirely on this study, is going to shatter some misconceptions regarding anabolic steroids. Sit back and prepare to be educated.
HPTA Suppression Is Imminent
Anyone whoís used anabolic steroids for any length of time will easily observe that when they discontinue using, they invariably "crash." That is to say, their body is producing next to zero endogenous androgens. This can lead to significant loss of muscle gain, loss of strength gains, lethargy, depression and a whole host of other disorders. Of course, drugs like HCG, HMG, clomiphene and similar gonadotrophics can help to ameliorate such symptoms, but these arenít 100% cure-alls. The success or failure of such secondary drug use varies considerably between individuals.
In a quest to minimize HPTA insult, my friend and Biotest developmental team partner, Bill Roberts, came up with an innovative speculation: If you limit your use of anabolic steroids to short-acting compounds and donít exceed two weeks of continual usage without a four week period of no usage, you might not depress endogenous androgen levels too much, if at all. This is the now famous "two on/four off" protocol.
I have the utmost respect for Bill and he possesses more knowledge about drugs than I ever will, but on this one topic, I donít agree with him. The study I just reviewed utilized ten healthy male volunteers who were randomized to receive either the phenylpropionate or decanoate ester of nandrolone via intramuscular, oily depo injection. A single injection of only 100 mg of nandrolone phenylpropionate caused almost complete suppression of endogenous Testosterone by day three and lasted until around day eight.
Endogenous levels of Testosterone didnít return to baseline levels for almost fifteen days, while the same type of injection with nandrolone decanoate caused almost complete inhibition of endogenous by day four. Endogenous levels of Testosterone didnít return to baseline levels for greater than twenty days! All this from a single, 100-mg injection of nandrolone!
This tells me that no matter what you do, whether itís a short lasting ester or a long lasting ester, youíll end up totally shutting down your bodyís ability to make androgens for at least two to three weeks. Since nobody (well, at least nobody male) uses only 100 mg of nandrolone per week, itís reasonable to conclude that the suppression caused by 500mg of an esterified anabolic per week (an average dose) would be much greater than two to three weeks. This study didnít deal with fast acting orals like stanozolol and oxandrolone, but thereís no reason to think that these wonít cause HPTA insult as well.
So what does this mean? To me, it means that HPTA insult is inevitable and should be planned for accordingly in your cycle. That is to say, you should plan on crashing for a few weeks post-cycle no matter what. Because of this, youíre going to want to extend and "beef up" your cycle so that you overshoot your final goal.
Remember, youíre going to crash and lose some of your gains. So if you want to gain "X" pounds of muscle, shoot for "X+Y" pounds of muscle and accept that within two to six weeks after the cycle, youíll end up losing most of the "Y" portion.
Volume and Concentration
Steroids come in all shapes and sizes. In other words, you can find nandrolone (or Testosterone or boldenone) esters in 25 mg/ml, 50 mg/ml, 100 mg/ml, 200 mg/ml and so forth. Is a 400 mg injection using two milliliters of a 200 mg/ml oily solution the same as using four milliliters of a 100 mg/ml solution? After all, the net amount is still 400 mg, right? Unfortunately, this isnít the case.
Steroid concentration in the solution greatly affects the dynamics and kinetics. In this study, some of the men received a 100 mg/ml injection of nandrolone decanoate and other men received a 100 mg injection using a 25 mg/ml solution (which means they received four milliliters, of course). Those that received the 100 mg/ml injection reached significantly higher (between 30% and 50%) plasma levels of nandrolone than those who got 100 mg via the 25 mg/ml solution. To top it off, the 100 mg/ml groupís plasma nandrolone level stayed elevated for a little bit longer; however, the length of suppression of endogenous Testosterone was almost identical.
What does this tell us? It tells us that if we want to maximize plasma levels of hormone (and thereby, maximize gains in lean muscle) we want to opt for the most concentrated version of whatever steroid(s) we decide weíre going to use. If weíre using Testosterone, we surely want to use a 200mg/ml enanthate over something like 100mg enanthate. If weíre using nandrolone, we want to use Ttokkyoís 300mg/ml stuff over 50mg/ml or 100mg/ml nandrolone decanoate made by others.
Another thing that superficially seems trivial but makes a huge difference in plasma steroid concentrations is where you inject. Thatís right, this seems utterly trivial but this study concluded that gluteal injections yielded far superior plasma levels as opposed to injections in the deltoid.
Of all the locations that nandrolone injections were given in this study (100 mg/ml x 1 ml in the glutes, 25 mg/ml x 4 ml in the glutes and 100 mg/ml x 1 ml in the deltoid), the deltoid injections yielded the lowest plasma levels of nandrolone by a huge factor, with peak concentrations being 50% lower than the 100 mg/ml gluteal injection and around 10% lower than the 100 mg/ml x 4ml gluteal injection. Lesson learned here: Only inject in the glutes for maximal steroidal efficacy.
Short Esters Are Better Esters
Perhaps the most important thing I learned in reviewing this study is that short-chain esters (steroids of shorter half life) yield a much higher plasma concentration of steroid than steroids of longer side chain esters. In this study, a single 100 mg/ml x 1 ml intragluteal injection of nandrolone phenylpropionate caused a peak plasma concentration of almost double that of the 100 mg/ml x 1 ml intragluteal injection of nandrolone decanoate. This level remained increased for almost seven days, too. By fourteen days, even though the nandrolone decanoate ester demonstrated a much higher plasma level than the nandrolone phenylpropionate level, the net amount of both was so low as to be ineffective.
This tells me that the effects I can see from using 500 mg of Testosterone enanthate per week probably wonít be the same as using 500 mg of Testosterone propionate or even Testosterone suspension per week. Iím going to see better results with the propionate and even better results with the suspension. Sure, I may need to inject the propionate and suspension more often, but in the long run itíll pay off for me. (Not that Iíd use steroids, of course. No sir, not me. Theyíre illegal!)
To recap everything mentioned here in this article, remember the following:
1) HPTA suppression is virtually inevitable. Even a single 100mg injection of nandrolone will cause full suppression for almost a week and you wonít return to a normal HPTA for at least two weeks. Plan your cycle accordingly and overshoot your goals knowing youíll lose something.
2) Injection volume and concentration are important. When available, opt for the highest concentration on a mg/ml basis.
3) Injection site is important. The best place for maximal plasma levels seems to be the glutes.
4) Side chain ester length is probably the single most important factor in influencing plasma levels. The shorter the ester (and the half life) the better. You may have to inject more often, but in the long run itíll be worth it.
There you go, the new "rules" of steroid use. Put them to use wisely!
The Journal of Pharmacology And Experimental Therapeutics, Vol 281, No. 1; 93-102, 1997.