A few months ago, I drew up my personal guidelines for beginner cycles. I decided to give it a whurl again as I plan for my second cycle. I definately still consider myself a newbie, although a bit more educated this time around. Comments, criticism, discussion, and questions are all welcome. I'll be posting this on multiple boards to get more feedback.
My prefered choices are in (parenthesis).
BP/Heart Support (CoQ10, Hawthorne Berry with 2 week preload)
Cholesterol Support (Niacin, EFA)
Optional/conditional considerations ON Cycle:
Liver Support (SAMe, Salymarin
If dry: joint support (cissus)
Libido Enhancer: Tribulus (Vitrix)
If wet or aromatizing: AI (formestane)
Lethary: Stim (no preference)
Taurine (bulk taurine or NOW caps)
AI (formestane, 6brom, 6oxo)
Cort Control (bulk arginine weeks 1-2, 7-O (Lean Xtreme) weeks 3-6)
Test Booster (Divanil aka Nettle Root- Activate)
Conditional Post Cycle considerations:
Lidido Enhancer: Trib (Vitrix)
ZMA (no preference)
Continuation of ON cycle support supplements
Continuation of Taurine (if pumps were present and dose until they subside)
Stim (TRAC NO Extreme)
Dosing liver support at the same time of a methylated ph/ps.
"Stagger" dosing every 4 hours to avoid absorption conflict while still protecting your liver (source: dinoiii)
Most newbies' primary concern is their ability to maintain libido in post cycle and dose serms very high to combat this panic. Trib and Aspire are available in emergency situations for libido. Serms are ALL toxic and most protocols do not consider very long active life of serms. Google your serm of choice and you'll see that even it's manufacturers report its toxicity (such as fareston/toremefine homepage for example)
Examples of prohormones which are commonly run without a serm include Halo clones, Propadrol, Furazadrol.
Examples that seem to differ in opinion for using a serm would include Phera clones, Tren and clones, 14ad (bold etc), Epistane and clones.
Examples that I believe IMO would require a serm include Superdrol and clones, M1T and clones, M1A and clones, stacks involving choices from the second group.
Running a high dose serm alongside a high dose AI can eliminate estogen. This is counter productive in that it can impair libido/sexual performance and blunt strength. Estrogen CONTROL is the way to go.
Trying to cut in post cycle
With low endogenous test levels, this is sure fire way to let your gains slip away. I believe you should increase your carbs by 100-200 grams on the first day of post cycle therapy and gradually taper them back down to your baseline intake.
Mistaking Trib for a test booster
Sorry fellas. I haven't seen any independent studies which show that trib actually effects the LH pathway. Look for products which bind to SHBG to increase "free" test. SHBG binds to test to render it inactive... this is obviously more important as test levels return as time passes in post cycle. Divanil/nettle root binds to SHBG and is found in popular test boosters such as MassFx, Activate, and Trib Test Extreme. Others have reported similar effect from bulk nettle root. Watch for % of active ingredient in these products. (source: Yeahright)
Not decreasing workout volume in post cycle
With low test, it's very easy to overtrain and completely render yourself useless in this time period. I personally cut my overall volume by about 20-30%. I personally recommend chaning your routine for post cycle to avoid the psychologically destructive potential for loss of strength at this point.
Using a "pump" product ON cycle
Pump and NO products aggravated cramping and "back pumps" for me even with water intake in the 2 gallon/day range. I suspect an additional mechanism other than kidney overload for back pumps but have not been able to justify this notion. (source: Prld2gr8ns)
Choosing to cycle when NOT ready
...Do NOT cycle if you are under 21
...You should reach a plateau in terms of body comp and strength before cycling
...Have definitive goals in terms of strength, mass, recomp, cut
...Know your EXACT caloric and macro ratios and follow them to a T
Typical First Cycle options
*It is my opinion that the above stacks could illicit a successful post cycle recovery without the use of a serm when dosed per product guidelines.
My Favorite Theories:
AI inverse to Serm
The serm is tapered off while the AI is INVERSELY ramped. (soucre: Dr.D)
Serms block estrogen receptos selectively, with primary impact on estrogen receptors in the breast tissue to ward off gyno. The serm is taper off usually for 4 weeks. Serms do not prevent formation of estrogen, they block the receptors. You want SOME estrogen to return in this time frame.
As endogenous test levels increase, there is the potential for some to aromatize to estrogen. This calls for a ramp of the AI to prevent test from converting to estrogen.
Run an NHA stack BEFORE your cycle
NHA stands for natural hormonal anabolic. These stacks inlcude an estrogen blocker, a test booster, and cort control. The nha stack will be the backbone of your post cycle plan. Opinion vary GREATLY considering the effectiveness of each individual product so you should know your post cycle plan works for you BEFORE you have your cycle
Have your post cycle therapy lined up BEFORE you start your cycle
There are many reasons why someone would "bail" on their cycle. At this point, it is imparative to follow through with your post cycle plan. If your post cycle therapy is in place, there is no anxious waiting for your products to arrive to combat issues caused by the cycle (source: Wedgy)
I've seen a trend that about 4 to 5 days into a cycle, many first timers experience flu-like symptoms. I experienced this myself with my first cycle, although I am unaware of the mechanism of this problem. If I had to guess, I would suspect liver stress to be the culprit. Symptoms subside within a few days and then you feel like bending barbells again
Useful quotes that have helped me along the way
theBigT: Being ON is the best cort control. ...in reference to my misguided newbie questions about running cort control while cycle.
RisingAgainst: If you got it, smoke it. ...in reference to running creatine and other staples such as beta alanine on cycle.
thesinner: Study until your eyes bleed. Let them heal up and then study till they bleed again. ...in reference to how much research is necessary when planning a cycle.
*Finally, when searching the net for cycle concepts, the following are screen names that I have virtually stolen these ideas from and shoudl acknowledge the major contributions. ...Dr. D, thesinner, RisingAgainst, dinoiii, voodoo, and many others. Very little information in this thread are my own ideas.