Oxandrolone (Anavar) Steroid Profile & Information
Oxandrolone: A Brief History
If there is one anabolic steroid that’s synonymous with ‘cutting’, lean muscle mass gains and getting ripped, it’s Oxandrolone aka Anavar. First developed in 1962 by an American pharmaceutical company called Searle Labs, and subsequently released onto the market in 1964, Oxandrolone was created to help build lean muscle mass and induce weight gain in those suffering from wasting diseases (such as HIV/AIDS), osteoporosis and burn victims. For this application it was perfectly suited; lean muscle mass and strength with no water retention and few side effects was ideal for this purpose, and it was used for many years before Searle withdrew it from the market in 1989 following a slew of non-steroidal drugs with fewer side effects that were developed to replace it.
However, like every other anabolic steroid that was developed for medical purposes, the potency and ‘high-reward-low-risk’ characteristics of Oxandrolone were soon recognized by bodybuilders, and by the early 1990’s it had become one of the most popular oral anabolic steroids found in gyms. And, 30 years later in 2020, Oxandrolone is still one of the most popular and anabolic steroids in existence.
Pharmacology & Chemical Structure of Oxandrolone
Oxandrolone is a DHT-derived steroid that, like all other anabolic steroids, is an agonist of the androgen receptor and therefore greatly stimulates protein synthesis, which in turn increases lean muscle mass, strength and bone mineral density.
In comparison to other steroids, Oxandrolone is far less androgenic relative to its anabolic potency. According to research, Oxandrolone has almost six times the anabolic potency of testosterone, with only around a quarter of the androgenic potency, which is why it was used for the aforementioned medical uses, i.e. the risk of virilization in women and children was significantly reduced compared to the likes of testosterone and oxymetholone.
Being a DHT derivative, Oxandrolone is already 5-alpha reduced, which means its androgenic nature is not increased through interaction with the 5-alpha reductase enzyme. However, unlike DHT, Oxandrolone is not altered by the 3a-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase (thanks to the substation of a carbon atom with an oxygen atom at C2 on the A ring), the enzyme responsible for rendering DHT largely ineffective in skeletal muscle; therefore, Oxandrolone has a far greater anabolic potency compared to its parent hormone. Furthermore, as Oxandrolone is 5-alpha reduced, it is not a substrate for the aromatase (the enzyme that converts androgens into estrogens), so it cannot be converted into any metabolites that exhibit estrogenic activity. It also exhibits zero progestogenic activity.
Like many other oral anabolic steroids, Oxandrolone is 17-alpha alkylated to increase its bioavailability (around 97%)1; however, its hepatotoxicity is far less than the vast majority of other commonly used methylated oral steroids2, which, has been suggested, is due to the fact to not primarily metabolized by the liver.
The elimination half-life of Oxandrolone is between 9-10 hours, although it may be as long as 13 hours in some individuals3.
The Complete Guide to Oxandrolone: Everything You Need To Know
Now that you’ve had a brief introduction to the history and chemical nature of Oxandrolone, we can delve even deeper and look at how Oxandrolone affects the body; how it can be used to build lean muscle mass, boost strength and enhance athletic performance, and the potential side effects associated with its usage. Below are the most commonly asked questions and information sought about Oxandrolone. The answers provided should give you adequate knowledge to make a judgement as to whether or not Oxandrolone is suited to your physique and performance goals. It goes without saying that the proceeding information does not constitute professional medical advice, nor should it be used as such. Always speak to a medical or healthcare professional prior to beginning any anabolic steroid cycle.
Anavar Only Cycle: Is it worth it?
If you browse any bodybuilding or steroid-related form, one debate you’ll see rage on for eternity is whether or not oral steroid only cycles are worth it. We get asked all the time whether Oxandrolone only cycles are worth doing; therefore, we’ve decided to broach this topic first as we know a lot of you reading this will be contemplating embarking upon a cycle that involves Anavar by itself.
To give a fair representation of both sides, we’ll consider the pros and cons of an Oxandrolone only cycle and discuss some of the scientific studies that examine the positive and negative effects of Anavar.
The main argument against Oxandrolone only cycles: Oxandrolone can only be taken for a maximum of eight weeks, which isn’t enough time to build an appreciable amount of lean muscle mass. Plus, because Anavar isn’t a strong androgen, there may not be enough androgenicity for normal bodily functions to occur (lack of libido is one frequent complaint of Anavar only cycles).
The main argument for Oxandrolone only cycles: Scientific and anecdotal evidence suggests that even short-term usage of Oxandrolone can build lean muscle mass and boost strength.
As you can see, there are compelling arguments on both sides, but which is ‘right’?
Well, neither is ‘right’ or ‘wrong’, as, ultimately, it’s subjective; therefore, you must make up your own mind. Are you dead set on using Oxandrolone for the lean mass gains, strength increases and potential fat loss and aren’t too bothered about the side effects? Or do you value certain areas of your life more than going to the gym, building muscle and achieving a better physique? It’s entirely your call. However, we will take a look at some studies to see how Oxandrolone affects the body to give a better understanding of the impact it may have on you.
The best way to do this is by looking at the science. Luckily, Oxandrolone has been studied quite extensively (for an anabolic steroid), so there are several studies in existence that we can examine to ascertain just how well it can build muscle. Let’s take a look:
A study published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism in 1999 concluded that “Ox[androlone], administered once a day at a moderate dose (15mg/day), promotes net muscle protein synthesis. Moreover, these data suggest that Ox[androlone] induced an increase in AR [androgen receptor] expression as a mechanism for the increase in net muscle protein synthesis.”4 The study found Oxandrolone not only induced reutilisation of amino acids after fasting (by 28%) but also a 65% increase in protein synthesis efficiency – the combination of which could lead to an increase of lean muscle mass (in a fed state).
A study published in the Journal of Physiology in 2004 examined the effects of Oxandrolone on lean body mass, muscle size, fat, and strength of healthy men between the ages of 60 and 87, with participants given 20mg of Oxandrolone for 12 weeks. At the end of the 12-week period, the average gain in lean muscle mass was 3kg with a decrease in body fat (around the trunk) of 2kg. Strength also increased considerably.5 What was really interesting about the study was the follow up they to it they made 12 weeks after it had finished. Researchers discovered that while the lean muscle gains had disappeared, fat mass changes had stayed the same, i.e. fat loss was permanent.
What results can be expected from Oxandrolone?
When considering takings anabolic steroids, the most important factor (for the vast majority of people) is what results can be expected from taking a specific compound or combination of compounds. It’s not surprising this is the case given that people take steroids for ‘gains’, i.e. build lean muscle mass, drop fat, increase strength etc.; therefore, knowing what can be expected in advance is human nature! The problem with giving a straightforward answer to this, however, is that there are a plethora of variables in play that make it impossible to tell anyone exactly what results they’ll experience. Why? Because everyone’s genetic makeup is slightly different; everyone trains in a different way (even if only very slightly), and everyone will eat a different diet (even if only very slightly); therefore, the effects of Oxandrolone on a person’s muscle mass and body fat will differ from person to person.
That being said, if we use the above scientific studies and the wealth of anecdotal evidence out there, we can make a reasonable estimation as to what can be expected from Oxandrolone.
According to the above science, low dose Oxandrolone (15-20mg per day) will result in modest lean muscle mass gains, increases in strength and decreases in body fat. However, bodybuilders and those seeking to alter their physique will typically ingest far more than 20mg per day, consume far more protein and calories, and will train more frequently and with higher intensity and volume; therefore, the increases in muscle mass and strength, and decreases in body fat should be greater. If 20mg of Anavar per day can out 3kg of lean muscle on an elderly man who is barely training and not eating high levels of protein, imagine what it can do for someone who is doing the opposite. Need I say more?
Oxandrolone Dosage: ‘How much should I take and when?’
Where dosing is concerned, the primary factor in deciding how much to take is whether it is being ingested alone or in conjunction with other compounds. However, bodyweight/level of musculature and steroid experience must also be factored in. Dosing is never an exact science, but using the previously-mentioned three factors will help you to determine your ideal dosage.
How to Dose Oxandrolone When Taken By Itself
When taking a single compound by itself, your dose will need to be higher than if you were combing it with other anabolics. However, novices taking steroids for the first time should always err on the side of caution and start with low doses to ascertain their tolerance of the compound. Those with previous experience of steroids can start at higher doses. Still, if it is their first time taking a specific steroid, it is always advisable to begin with lower doses and gradually increase them as tolerance is established.
Ultimately, how much Anavar your take is up to you, but here are some basic guidelines for Oxandrolone only cycles:
Beginners: 40mg per day for six weeks.
Intermediate: 60mg per day for six to eight weeks.
Advanced: 80mg per day for six to eight weeks.
How to Dose Oxandrolone When Taken With Other Anabolic Steroids
Anavar is most commonly used with other steroids, with dose and length of application determined by the goals of the individual concerned. It is most frequently used for cutting or recomping; however, some do use it in bulking cycles.
Here are some examples of typical cutting cycles that incorporate Oxandrolone:
Cutting cycle example #1: Weeks 1-8: Testosterone propionate 100mg Monday/Wednesday/Friday; Week 1-8: 40mg Oxandrolone ED.
Cutting cycle example #2: Weeks 1-12: Testosterone propionate 100mg Monday/Wednesday/Friday; Weeks 1-4: 60mg Oxandrolone ED; Weeks 9-12 60mg oxandrolone ED.
Cutting cycle example #3: Weeks 1-6: Testosterone propionate 150mg Monday/Wednesday/Friday; Weeks 1-6: 60mg ED.
Although uncommon, some users do combine Oxandrolone with other orals, such as Stanozolol (Winstrol). If you plan on doing so, be sure to reduce the dose of both steroids when taking them together. The maximum advised dose is 40mg of Oxandrolone and 40mg of Stanozolol, although 30mg of each should more than suffice in most cases.
When should I take Oxandrolone?
As is the case with most oral steroids, there is debate surrounding the timing of dosing, with three common schools of thought:
1) Take the full dosage pre-workout as this will boost focus, aggression, strength and power.
2) Take the full dosage post-workout as this is the time when your body is most anabolic, and the addition of Oxandrolone will further increase the anabolism.
3) Take several equal doses throughout the day as this will induce a continuous and prolonged anabolic environment.
But which is the best option for Oxandrolone?
If taking Oxandrolone by itself, splitting doses up throughout the day is advised (for the above-mentioned reason); however, if using with other compounds, it can be taken pre or post-workout. Ultimately, the timing of dosing isn’t as crucial if taking Anavar in conjunction with other anabolic steroids.
What Are The Side Effects of Oxandrolone? Is it liver toxic?
Anavar is often considered a mild steroid, and, therefore, side effects associated with its usage are also mild. However, this isn’t necessarily the case. Oxandrolone is still a methylated oral steroid, which will put some degree of stress on the liver6, and, being an androgen, it has the potential to adversely affect cholesterol, lipids, triglycerides, blood pressure et al.
One mistake people make when considering the potential adverse effects of Anavar is to assume that because it cannot aromatize or be reduced (via the 5-alpha reductase enzyme) into a more androgenic compound, that side effects are less likely to occur. While it is true that no typical estrogenic sides such as gynecomastia or water retention can arise from oxandrolone usage, androgenic sides are common, such as hair loss, acne, increases in blood pressure and cholesterol changes. In fact, one study studied the effects of Oxandrolone on cholesterol (amongst other health markers) when used at 20mg per day for eight weeks. The results? A decrease in HDL (‘good’ cholesterol) by 30% and an increase in LDL (‘bad’ cholesterol) by 40% – a significant and potentially dangerous change7. Significant changes in health markers will typically return to normal several weeks after cessation of Oxandrolone, but for the time it is being taken, your health will be affected negatively.
How Can I Combat the Side Effects of Oxandrolone?
As we’ve ascertained above, the side effects that have the most cause for concern are related to cholesterol, lipids and triglycerides; therefore, attempting to prevent or control this is the best course of action. Although it will be impossible to halt alterations in cholesterol et al., there are several things you can do to reduce the effect as much as is (genetically) possible. Here are a few tips:
– Stay hydrated at all times.
– Eat a diet rich in vegetables and healthy fats.
– Avoid junk food, cigarettes, alcohol and drugs.
– Have blood tests before, during and after your cycle to get a firm grasp on how Oxandrolone has affected your health.
– For liver health, taken proven supplements like TUDCA.8
As Oxandrolone is already 5-alpha reduced, drugs such as finasteride and dutasteride will not help where hair loss is concerned. Although Anavar isn’t particularly androgenic, it is a DHT-derivative; therefore, it is capable of causing shedding in those who are predisposed to male pattern baldness.
Frequently Asked Questions About Oxandrolone
In this section, we’ll list all of the most frequently asked questions about Oxandrolone and answer them. Although our intention is to answer every single about Anavar as we possibly can, if we do miss anything out, please let us know and we’ll answer it for you!
How long does it take to kick in?
The vast majority of oral steroids – Oxandrolone included – typically enter the bloodstream within 60 minutes of ingestion; therefore, they can be defined as active at this point. Will you feel it straight away? It depends on the compound, but it usually takes three to four days of taking Anavar before you begin feelings strength, focus and aggression increases in the gym.
How long does Oxandrolone stay in your system? What is its half-life?
As mentioned earlier in this article, the elimination half-life of Oxandrolone is between 9-10 hours, although it may be as long as 13 hours in some individuals9. However, it can be detected for up to three weeks after your last dose.
Is Oxandrolone Legal?
In most countries, Oxandrolone is illegal; however, the extent of steroid regulations will vary from country to country. For example, in the UK, it is illegal to sell steroids but not to possess them for personal usage; whereas, in the USA, it is illegal to sell steroids and own them. Always check your local laws to ascertain the legality and legal ramifications of oxandrolone possession.
Can it be taken safely?
I don’t enjoy answering questions on the safety of taking steroids, given that they are still drugs, and people will react differently to them; however, in reality, it is all relative. Is it safer to take Oxandrolone for six weeks than drink a litre of vodka per day for six weeks? Of course, it is. In the grand scheme of things that are dangerous, anabolic steroids really aren’t high up the list; however, abuse of anabolic steroids is. To make steroid usage as safe as possible, living a clean, healthy lifestyle is a must. Avoid alcohol, cigarettes, junk food, drugs and anything else typically deemed unhealthy. While anabolic steroid usage can never be 100% safe, it can be made a lot safer by doing everything possible to make your body as healthy as it can be.
Can beginners and first-time steroid users take Anavar?
Oxandrolone is considered a very ‘beginner-friendly’ steroid, given that it offers modest results without being massively toxic to the body. Although it is one of the most expensive anabolic steroids on the market, it has become more affordable over the last few years, so more and more novices are using to it great effect without breaking the bank.
Can it be taken with other orals steroids?
Combing oral steroids is a practice that many in the bodybuilding community frown upon, but, in reality, it’s unlikely to be as bad for you (and your liver) as is commonly made out. That being said, you must decrease the dose of each oral you take; otherwise, the risk of liver damage will increase. For example, if you usually take 60mg Oxandrolone and 40mg of Stanozolol (winstrol) when used alone, you’d reduce this by half when combining them, i.e. 30mg of Oxandrolone and 20mg of Stanozolol. Using a proven liver protectant supplement such as TUDCA is also wise.
What do I take after my cycle? Will Anavar lower my testosterone levels?
All exogenous androgenic/anabolic hormones will have an adverse effect on testosterone levels – Oxandrolone included10; therefore, post cycle therapy is always necessary to bring your natural hormone levels back.
A typical PCT will use either tamoxifen (Nolvadex), clomiphene citrate (‘Clomid’) or a combination of both (reduces doses of both drugs if using together) for a period of three to four weeks after your last dose of Oxandrolone. If you search on Google for information on post cycle therapy, you’ll likely come across information that will suggest using the two aforementioned drugs at doses of 60mg (tamoxifen) and 150mg (‘Clomid’) – under no circumstances should you take these drugs at such high doses. Firstly, it is overkill for the job in hand, and secondly, it will vastly increase the risk of side effects, which you will, of course, want to avoid. Like steroids, it is always best to begin with low doses to ascertain tolerance. The maximum dose of tamoxifen should be 20mg and 150mg for clomiphene citrate.
Can Anavar be used for bulking?
If there’s one anabolic steroid that’s synonymous with cutting, it’s Oxandrolone. However, that doesn’t mean it can’t be used for bulking. Research exemplified in this article have shown that Oxandrolone increases protein synthesis and amino acid utilization even when fasting; therefore, it can be safely assumed that oxandrolone + increased protein + a calorie surplus + resistance training = increases in muscle mass. Although it won’t ‘blow you up’ akin to the likes of traditional bulking oral steroids such as methandienone and oxymetholone, it is clear that you will gain muscle and strength when bulking on Anavar.
Is there any point in a low dose Oxandrolone cycle?
Many would contest that disrupting your HPTA or the sake of a low dose Anavar cycle would be worthless. However, in reality, it is entirely up the individual to decide how they take steroids. Lower doses will reduce potential gains but at the same time will decrease the risk (and extent) of side effects. It comes down to personal analysis of risk:reward and how quickly you want to achieve your goals/how well you can deal with potential side effects.
Oxandrolone vs Stanozolol – which is better?
Comparing steroids against one another is a highly subjective topic; therefore, if you’re seeking a definitive answer, you may leave disappointed! Ultimately, it depends upon your goals. Both Anavar and winstrol are primarily used for cutting and recomping and are indeed more than capable of helping you achieve your goals in these areas. Still, despite their similarities, there are differences between the two. Based on anecdotal evidence, it’s apparent than Stanozolol is slightly more anabolic, i.e. it will build lean muscle mass as a (somewhat) greater degree than Oxandrolone; however, Oxandrolone is typically considered a better strength booster (albeit not by much) and doesn’t affect joints to the same the degree than winstrol does. At the of the day, it’s unlikely that you’ll see major differences between the two compounds, so using them interchangeably is completely fine.
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