The Complete Guide to Steroid Cycles for Beginners
New to the world of steroids?
Contemplating beginning your very first cycle?
If so, you’ve come to the right place. We know that starting your very first steroid cycle can be daunting; therefore, we’ve put together this guide to help you choose the safest and most beneficial option for your goals. Although the contents of this article aren’t medical advice and we recommend that you always speak to a healthcare professional prior to your first steroid cycle, we’ve written this piece to provide you with a comprehensive list of everything you must know and take into consideration before doing your first injection and/or swallowing your first pill.
Your First Steroids Cycle: Things To Consider Before Starting
First of all, we’d like to state that your decision to start taking steroids is entirely your decision and you should decide what’s best for you; however, we do advise you to take a few things into consideration before beginning, just to ensure that you’re 100% ready to begin using exogenous anabolic hormones.
When beginner and novice steroid cycles are discussed, the typical response is along the lines of ‘you must have x amount of years natural training under your belt before taking steroids’. Although this is wise advice and it is a good idea to build a solid natural base before turning to performance-enhancing drugs such as steroids, it is entirely up to you when you take steroids. We’d always suggest at least six months of consistent working out and nutrition prior to your first cycle, but if you want to jump in at the deep end straight away, then that is 100% your decision.
One thing you must be aware of the potential positive and negative effects steroids may have on your and your life – primarily the latter. Let’s take a look at several negative ways that steroid can impact upon your physical and mental health (which may, of course, alter the way you interact with the people and world around you):
– Decreases in your natural testosterone levels via downregulation of your HPTA (Hypothalamus-Pituitary-Testes Axis).
– Decreases in sperm count and/or quality via the same mechanism mentioned above.
– Increases in blood pressure, triglycerides, LDL (‘bad’ cholesterol) and hematocrit (volume of red blood cell count in your blood).
– Decreases in HDL (‘good’ cholesterol).
– Potential increase in liver enzymes (from 17-alpha alkylated oral steroids).
– Potential to develop acne (typically on the face, chest and back).
– Potential for hair loss on the head if you’re genetically predisposed to MPB (Male Pattern Baldness).
– Potential for increased hair growth on the face and body.
– Potential for water retention (depending on which compound(s) you use).
– Potential for gynecomastia (depending on which compound(s) you use).
– potential erectile dysfunction.
– Potential mood changes.
The number of the above effects you experience (if any) and the extent to which you do suffer from them, i.e. the severity of the symptoms, will depend upon three things: your genetic predisposition, i.e. your individual tolerance; the dose(s) you use, and your cycle duration. Unfortunately, it is almost impossible to assess your tolerance to steroids without taking them; however, you are in complete control of how much you take and for how long. Therefore, it is always recommended to start with lower dosages and gradually increase them as you ascertain your tolerance. Doses for beginner and first-time steroid cycles should always be on the low side of the typical recommended doses you see on the internet. We’ll be discussing doses for individual compounds and how to put together your cycle later on in this piece to help you decide on the best dosages for a first cycle.
Of course, we have listed all of the above as a worst-case scenario to ensure you’re aware of the risks, but using steroids can be done relatively safely provided that several golden rules are followed, which apply to all cycles whether they’re novice, intermediate or advanced cycles. Let’s take a look at them:
– Eat a healthy, nutrient-rich diet. Sure, you’ll undoubtedly be getting sufficient macronutrients if you’re consuming a typical ‘bodybuilding’ bulking or cutting diet. Still, you need to ensure that you increase the amount of vegetables and fruits you consume. You can take a greens powder supplement or a multivitamin if you want to be extra sure you’re getting all the micronutrients you require, but getting these from real food is the best option. Avoid junk food as much as possible.
– Stay hydrated at all times.
– Avoid alcohol and recreational drugs.
– Increase cardiovascular exercise frequency, intensity or duration.
– A consistent sleep pattern; getting at least seven hours per night.
Ok, so now we’ve got the things you need to consider before starting your first cycle out of the way, we can get to the bit you’ve probably all been waiting for…the part where we discuss which steroids to take!
Beginner Steroid Cycles: Which Steroids To Use and How To Build Your Cycle
Putting together your first steroid cycle isn’t difficult, but there are a few questions you must answer before doing so:
– Are you happy to inject yourself?
– Are you happy to take oral steroids?
Your answers to the above questions will determine which types of beginner cycles are available to you. If you answered ‘yes’ to both, combining injectables and orals is an option, as well as using either/or. In contrast, if you only said yes to one, you’re limited to either an injectable only or oral only cycle. However, whichever options are open to you, there are plenty of options available. The question is, which compounds should you use in a first cycle and how many?
Although there are no hard and fast rules with regard to novice steroid cycles, it is generally accepted that first cycles shouldn’t consist of more than two steroids (three at absolute maximum). Some compounds are far more suited to a novice cycle than others, so let’s take a look at the options open to you.
Injectable Steroids for a First Cycle
Testosterone: The king of steroids and one that must be incorporated in any cycle that involves injectable anabolics. Why? Because testosterone is the primary male androgen and necessary for a wide array of functions in the body.
Although there are various ester available – the most common ones being enanthate (long-acting), cypionate (long-acting), Sustanon (a mix of short-acting and long-acting ester) and propionate (short-acting) – we recommend either enanthate or cypionate, i.e. long-acting esters as they only require one injection per week and offer stable blood levels.
Deca Durabolin (Nandrolone Decanoate): The second most common injectable anabolic used in novice steroid cycles, but one that certainly isn’t a necessity. Before considering adding Deca to your first cycle, please note that it is more suppressive than testosterone (due to it being a 19-nortestosterone derivative) and has a tendency to cause erectile dysfunction primarily due to its lack of androgenicity and progestogenic-like effects. In our opinion, a first cycle should not include Deca.
Equipoise (Boldenone Undecylenate): Although rare, some users do include equipoise in beginner steroid cycles. But is it worth it? Probably not. It doesn’t offer anything that testosterone doesn’t, aside from being half as androgenic. It also has the propensity to increase red blood cell count and increase blood thickness. In our eyes, equipoise should not be part of any beginner steroid cycle.
Masteron (Drostanolone Propionate/Enanthate): A derivative of dihydrotestosterone that is rarely included in first cycles, but an anabolic that is actually very beneficial given its androgenic nature and synergy with testosterone. Although it certainly isn’t necessary, it is the best choice where secondary injectables are concerned, particularly if you’re concerned with estrogenic side effects, such as gynecomastia and water retention. If using, opt for the longer-acting enanthate ester.
Injectables steroids that definitely shouldn’t be used in a beginner cycle: Trenbolone, Primobolan, dihydroboldenone, nandrolone phenylpropionate.
Oral Steroids for a First Cycle
Dianabol (methandienone): The most commonly used oral bulking anabolic and a mainstay of the vast majority of beginner bulking cycles. If you’re combing an oral with an injectable or taking an oral alone, Dianabol is the best choice if bulking up. It’s inexpensive, rarely faked and effective.
Anadrol (Oxymetholone): Some may warn against using Anadrol in a first cycle as its generally considered more toxic than Dianabol, but in reality, the hepatoxicity it induces is not much more than Dianabol (although it will, of course, vary from person to person); therefore, it is a viable option for a first cycle.
Anavar (Oxandrolone): By far and away, the most common oral cutting anabolic, Anavar is a great ‘first cycle’ compound. Although it is relatively mild in terms of building muscle mass, it is known to boost strength and burn body fat.
Winstrol (Stanozolol): Second only to Anavar where cutting steroids are concerned, winstrol is undoubtedly a viable option for a first cycle. Its effects aren’t too dissimilar to Anavar, but it is generally considered to bit a little harsher on joints than its aforementioned counterpart.
Turinabol (4-chloromethyltestosterone): Turinabol sits in the middle ground between bulking orals (Dianabol and Anadrol) and cutting orals (Anavar and winstrol), which make it seems like a pointless choice – but in reality, it is actually a really good choice. Although it won’t pack on mass like methandrostenolone and oxymetholone, it still does carry somewhat of a punch and can add a modest amount of muscle mass. It’s also considered less toxic than other bulking orals, so ‘tbol’ is certainly one to consider.
Oral steroids that definitely shouldn’t be used in a beginner cycle: halotestin (fluoxymesterone), Superdrol (methasterone), Methyl-1-testosterone; methyl-tren (methyltrienolone), oral Primobolan.
What doses for a first steroid cycle?
Steroid doses for a first cycle depend on the type and number of compounds that are being used; therefore, we’ll give a range of potential doses and extrapolate them further in the next section dedicated to ‘building your cycle’, but in short, use the lower end of the advised dosage scale if using with other steroids, and the high(er) end if using alone.
Testosterone: Long-acting esters such as enanthate and cypionate should be dosed at between 200-400mg per week. You’ll often see 500mg per week recommend as a starting dose, but that is too high. 200-400mg per week is more than enough to start seeing solid mass, muscle and strength gains.
Deca Durabolin: Even though we don’t recommend any form of nandrolone in a first cycle, if you are dead set on using Deca, a dosage of between 200-300mg is advised.
Equipoise: Again, although we don’t think boldenone has a place in a beginner steroid cycle if you are going to use it, 200-300mg is sufficient.
Dianabol: Novices should only use methandienone at doses between 20-40mg per day, for no longer than six weeks.
Anadrol: First-time steroid users should only use oxymetholone at doses between 25-75mg per day, for no more than four weeks.
Anavar: Between 40-60mg per day for up to six weeks.
Winstrol: Between 30-50mg per day for up to six weeks
Turinabol: Between 40-60mg per day for a maximum of six weeks.
Ok, so now we’ve discussed potential doses, let’s take a look at how it all comes together when building a cycle. The proceeding section will give different examples of how beginner cycles can be constructed depending on the compounds being used.
Putting It Altogether And Building Your Cycle
While there are an almost infinite number of potential beginner steroid cycles that can be created from the above steroids, we’ll list some of the most common ones below to give you an idea as to how best to piece together the novice steroid cycle ‘jigsaw’.
Here are a few basic rules:
– Total injectable androgen levels should not exceed 400mg per week.
– Total oral androgen levels should not exceed 60mg per day.
– If using an oral as a ‘kickstarter’ at the beginning of a longer injectable cycle, the maximum injectable androgen levels should not exceed 300mg.
Here are some examples of injectable:
Testosterone Only: Testosterone enanthate or cypionate 300-400mg per week for 10-12 weeks.
Testosterone / Dianabol: Testosterone enanthate or cypionate 250-300mg per week for 10-12 weeks; Dianabol at 20mg per day for the first four weeks.
Testosterone / Anadrol: Testosterone enanthate or cypionate 250-300mg per week for 10-12 weeks; Anadrol at 50mg per day for the first three or four weeks.
Testosterone / Anavar: Testosterone enanthate or cypionate 250-300mg per week for 10-12 weeks; Anavar at 40mg per day for the first four to six weeks.
Testosterone / Winstrol: Testosterone enanthate or cypionate 250-300mg per week for 10-12 weeks; Winstrol at 40mg per day for the first four weeks.
Testosterone / Turinabol: Testosterone enanthate or cypionate 250-300mg per week for 10-12 weeks; Turinabol at 40mg per day for the first four to six weeks.
Testosterone / Deca Durabolin: Testosterone enanthate or cypionate 200 per week for 10-12 weeks; Deca Durabolin 200mg per week for 10-12 weeks.
Testosterone / Masteron: Testosterone enanthate or cypionate 200 per week for 10-12 weeks; Masteron Enanthate 200mg per week for 10-12 weeks.
Many people frown upon oral only cycles; however, they are a great alternative for those who are unable to or do not wish to inject steroids.
Note: Use the lower end of the advised dosing spectrum if using for more extended periods of time, for example, if using Dianabol, take 40mg per day for four weeks or 30mg per day for six weeks.
Dianabol Only: 30-40mg per day for four to six weeks.
Anadrol Only: 50-75mg per day for four weeks.
Anavar Only: 40-60mg per day for six to eight weeks.
Winstrol Only: 40-60mg per day for four to six weeks
Turinabol Only: 40-60mg per day for six to eight weeks.
What To Take After A First Steroid Cycle?
Using exogenous hormones – no matter which compounds or for how long – will have a negative effect on your testosterone levels; therefore, you need to complete a full PCT (post cycle therapy) after you’ve finished your cycle. Let’s take a look at a few golden rules where PCT is concerned:
– If using injectable steroids, you must wait for them to leave your system before commencing with PCT. This is typically around three weeks after your last injection.
– If using oral steroids only, PCT can begin 24 hours after your last dose.
– Never exceed 20mg of tamoxifen (Nolvadex) per day.
– Never exceed 50mg of clomiphene citrate (Clomid) per day.
– If using both tamoxifen and clomiphene citrate together, take no more than 10mg of the former and 25mg of the latter.
– Keep calories and protein high during PCT to maximize ‘keeping your gains’.
– Be prepared to lose mass and strength.
Beginner Steroid Cycle: Frequently Asked Questions
Can I do an oral only first cycle?
Although most people would advise against taking oral steroids alone, in theory, it can be done. The most common oral only cycles are Dianabol, Anadrol, Anavar and winstrol; however, turinabol, superdrol and Methyl-1-testosterone are also options depending on your goal. Provided that your cycle is planned well, you train exceptionally hard, your nutrition is on point, and you complete a full PCT, there is no reason why an oral only first cycle can’t be effective.
Do I need to take any ancillary supplements?
There are a myriad of ‘cycle support’ supplements out there which have been designed to address certain (common) issues that arise when taking supraphysiological levels of exogenous anabolic/androgenic hormones, such as high blood pressure, negative changes to cholesterol, prostate issues, hair loss and water retention. Whether you need to take such a product remains to be seen. Although there is some scientific evidence to suggest that some of the herbal ingredients in this genre of supplements may help, they should never be relied upon to address any steroid-induced issues you experience.
We always advise having an impeccable diet high in protein, good fats and vegetables; staying hydrated at all times; increasing amounts of cardiovascular exercise (yes, even if bulking!); getting sufficient sleep; avoiding junk food, alcohol, cigarettes and drugs; and, most importantly, having blood tests done during steroid cycles to see if anything needs addressing. The only supplement we recommend taking is TUDCA, which is a potent liver protectant and therefore, may help to boost liver health when taking oral steroids.
What is the best oral steroid for beginners?
While there is no ‘best’ oral steroid for novices, there are some that are more suited to first time users than others. For bulking, Dianabol is typically the ‘go-to’ anabolic, given that it offers a good abalone between gains and side effects. In contrast, Anavar is commonly used for cutting purposes for the same reasons. One steroid that is often overlooked is Turinabol, which is a steroid that sits somewhere in-between Dianabol and Anavar, i.e. it is relatively anabolic – more so than Anavar yet less so than Dianabol – yet carries fewer side effects than the latter. It’s often referred to as Dianabol’s ‘little brother’, and that is a very good way of describing it.
What is the best injectable steroid for beginners?
This is a straightforward question to answer: Testosterone. There are no ifs, buts or maybes about this. Testosterone is the king of steroids; therefore, if you’re going to include an injectable steroid as part of your first cycle, it must be testosterone.
Can Trenbolone be used in a first cycle?
It can be (it is your choice which steroid you take after all), but we highly recommend against it. Why? Simply because it is such a potent steroid, both in terms of the way it alters your physique and the side effects it causes. While the former may seem ideal, the latter is far from it. Although there is no doubt that Trenbolone is the only steroid that will both build muscle and burn body fat, the side effects that come with it are extreme, to say the least. The most notable side effect ‘tren’ users report are paranoia and mental issues, which are clearly not something you’d want to potentially go through for the sake of some muscle and less body fat. Furthermore, it is known to be exceptionally hard on your HPTA, i.e. it will shut you down to a great degree, which will take a significant while to recover from.
How much should I eat on my first bulking cycle?
Although everyone is different, our general advice for eating to bulk up is simple: your body weight in pounds (lbs) x 25, e.g. if you weigh 150lbs (x 25), you’d consume 3,750 calories per day. The most common macronutrient split for bulking is 40:40:20 (protein/carbohydrate/fat); however, if you’re a ‘hard-gainer’, we recommend eating less protein and fat, and more carbs, i.e. a 25:60:15 split, which, in the case of 3,750 calorie diet would equate to around 230g of protein, 550g of carbs and 60g of fat. While this may seem like an almost excessive amount of food, it is best to overdo it rather than under-do it, as you’ll gain most mass during your first cycle; therefore, optimizing every aspect of diet, training and rest is highly advisable.
Will taking steroids shrink my balls?
Potentially, yes. Although it does seem to vary from person to person, the vast majority of novice steroid users (and steroid users in general) will experience some degree of testicular atrophy. Why does this happen?
Well, when the brain senses that there are adequate levels of testosterone in the bloodstream, it will cease to send signals (luteinizing hormone) to testicles to tell them to start producing testosterone; therefore, the testicles become redundancy. Furthermore, levels of FSH (follicle-stimulating hormone) – a signal hormone that plays a significant role in sperm production – are also decreased. The combination of both a reduction in LH and FSH leads to the redundancy of both the leading cells (where testosterone is produced) and the Sertoli cells (where sperm is produced), which can cause shrinkage of the testes.
To combat this, steroids users can use HCG (human chorionic gonadotropin), which is an injectable peptide that mimics the above-mentioned luteinizing hormone, which keeps the testicles active during a cycle. Although it is 100% necessary, if you want to give yourself the best chance of a successful post cycle recovery, HCG is certainly advisable.
Will I get gynecomastia from my first cycle?
Whether or not you experience any degree of gynecomastia during your first cycle will depend on three things: your individual tolerance to estrogenic side effects; the steroid(s) you use and the doses at which you take them – which is why we always suggest starting with low doses to ascertain your tolerance and see if any side effects occur. Excess testosterone is converted into estrogen; therefore, if you’re taking supraphysiological levels of testosterone, it’s highly likely that you’ll have supraphysiological levels of estrogen also.
There are two ways of addressing this. Either, you can use an aromatase inhibitor – a type of drug that inhibits the actions of aromatase, the enzyme that converts testosterone to estrogen – from day one, or, you can simply take a SERM (selective estrogen receptor modulator) such as Nolvadex if any symptoms arise. We always advise having both on hand should you see or feel that your estrogen is getting out of control.
However, aromatase inhibitors won’t work for some compounds, such as Anadrol or Deca Durabolin, for example, as gynecomastia caused by these compounds is typically related to higher levels of progesterone rather than estrogen. And, as aromatase inhibitors have no impact upon progesterone, they’ll have zero effect. TamoxifEn, raloxifene and even drostanolone are generally thought of as the best antidotes to gynecomastia.
How long should my first cycle last for?
Cycle length depends upon what type of steroid(s) you’re going to take. The advised cycle length for an injectable cycle is between 10 and 12 weeks, whereas the advised cycle length for an oral only cycle is between four and six weeks depending on the compound.
Will I lose hair on my first cycle?
As is the case for most steroid-induced side effects, hair loss is largely genetic. If you are prone to MPB (male pattern baldness), some steroids may exacerbate and speed up the rate at which it happens, whereas if you’re not genetically predisposed to MPB, you may experience no or very little hair loss. Steroids that are well known for causing hair loss in those that are prone are testosterone, Trenbolone, masteron, Dianabol, Anavar and winstrol – although, in theory, any steroid worsen your hairline. 5-alpha reductase inhibitors such as finasteride and dutasteride can be used to decrease the rate of hair loss; however, they’re not effective in steroids that are androgenic that need to be converted into DHT or a more potent androgen, which is the majority of steroids.
How can I keep my gains after my first cycle?
Losing gains – be they strength or muscle (or both) – after a first cycle is inevitable. However, there are several things you can do to decrease the amount of size and muscle you’ll lose once your cycle is over. The key to this is getting your natural testosterone levels back as soon as possible and keeping calories and protein high; therefore, as we have already stated several times throughout this article, completing a thorough and effective PCT is essential. Testosterone is the key male androgen and is needed to build and maintain muscle mass. Without it, muscle atrophy may occur, and along with it, your strength gains too.
Keeping calories high will increase the preservation of the muscle you’ve built and will help to fuel workouts and recovery post-cycle. Some people also opt to use natural performance-enhancing supplements such as creatine as part of their post cycle therapy (and beyond) as it has been proven to build muscle and strength to a modest degree.
What should I expect from my first steroid cycle?
Although it will depend on your goals, diet, training and the steroid(s) you’re taking, you can expect to gain muscle and strength at a far greater rate than you normally would naturally, have greater focus, motivation and positive aggression in the gym (and perhaps in life in general), feelings of euphoria and feelings of greater confidence (due to the improvements in your physique). Of course, these are just the potential positive effects of steroids and are not 100% guaranteed (aside from muscle growth and strength increases).
On the flip side, you should expect to experience some adverse effects and be prepared for them. Although when used in moderation, steroids are relatively safe, it is always better to be safe than sorry and prepare for the worst.
Is one cycle of steroids worth it?
We’ll end on a question we get asked a lot and one that does cause a certain amount of debate. Some will argue that one cycle is worthless; however, we disagree. A well planned and put together cycle, nutrition plan and training regime can have profound effects on your physique – of that there is no question. Add to that a thorough PCT, and it is highly possible to keep a good proportion of your gains permanently.
The question marks over doing a sole steroid cycle are usually concerned with HPTA shutdown and risking fertility for the sake of muscle. Ultimately, it is down to the individual user. While the vast majority of people will recover well from a single steroid cycle, others may face long-term issues. It is up to you to decide whether the rewards outweigh the potential risks.
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