What are the Best Oral Steroids for Bulking?
When we’re asked questions about steroids, more than 50% of these queries are related to bulking – specifically with oral steroids. Although injectable anabolic steroids will always be popular and are exceptionally potent for bulking, those who can’t or won’t use injectable AAS, or those who want to combine an oral with an injectable, must understand which compounds are best for their goal – in this case, bulking up, gaining mass…whatever you want to call it.
A Few Pointers on Bulking Before We Discuss Anabolic Steroids
Before getting into the meat of the topic and discuss the best oral anabolics for gaining mass, it’s vital to understand what you need to look for when choosing a steroid for bulking. Gaining mass successfully, i.e. increasing lean muscle mass, overall body weight (at a good muscle:fat:water ratio) and strength are the three primary goals of ‘bulking up’. To achieve a successful bulk, you must:
1) Get continually stronger.
2) Consistently eat in a calorie surplus.
To achieve the former, you must embark upon a progressive resistance-based training program, with the aim of getting stronger each and every week, and to achieve the latter, you must simply eat more food – around 500 calories extra per day. On the face of it, this may seem like easy things to do. Getting stronger and eating enough to facilitate strength and boost strength is straightforward, right? Yes…to a degree. But it does take a little bit of groundwork to ensure you get started on the right foot and put yourself in an optimal position to gain as much muscle mass and strength as possible. Taking steroids, after all, is the time when you need everything dialled in to make the most of the hugely anabolic environment that you’re creating in your body. So what does this ‘groundwork’ involve?
Firstly you must establish your max lifts, i.e. one-rep maxes for all of the exercises you’ll be doing. We always recommend basing any routine around the following exercises, so ensure that you know your 1RM for: squat, deadlift, bench press, military press, dips (if you add extra weight), pull-ups (if you add extra weight), barbell curl. Once you’ve established your one-rep max for all of these exercises, it is easy to work backwards and calculate different percentages of your 1RM. For example, some programs may suggest working at 75% of your 1RM; therefore, if you know your stats beforehand, you can merely do one quick calculation and voila, you know where to begin.
And secondly, you must be aware of your calorific requirements at your current body weight, commonly referred to as your Basal Metabolic rate (BMR). There are a wide array of calculations out there (which is frustrating as they’re all different!), but all in all, they all give figures that are not too dissimilar. Our advice? Choose one and stick with it. We prefer to use this one (https://www.calculator.net/bmr-calculator.html), but you can use any calculator you wish provided that you stick to it. Once you have this figure, you can add on additional 500 calories, and you have the number of calories you need to consume on a daily basis to gain weight and build muscle, which will, in turn, make you stronger.
Which macronutrient split you use is entirely up to you, but our suggested split is 25% protein: 55% carbs: 20% fats. Sos, if you need to eat 2,500 calories per day to gain weight, this would equate to 155g of protein: 345g of carbs: 55g fat. If you really struggle to gain weight, you can drop the protein a little to 20% and up the carbs to 60%, whereas if you gain fat easily, you can drop the carbs to 45% and up the protein to 35%.
Everyone is different, so in most cases, trial and error is needed to see how your body reacts to a certain amount of calories and macro split. If you find you’re not gaining weight, add in more carbs or protein. If you’re gaining too quickly and suspect it’s fat, reduce the amount of carbs.
So where do steroids come into this?
As we’ve already established, the idea of bulking is to gain muscle mass, overall mass and strength; therefore, we need to utilise oral steroid(s) that facilitate the accrual of lean muscle mass, an increase in overall body weight (water included), strength increases and potentially an increase in appetite (to allow you to consume the extra calories required to bulk up).
But which steroids do this? Well, there are three primary choices if you want to either add an oral steroid to an injectable-based bulking cycle or use as a standalone for the same purposes, i.e. gaining mass:
1) Dianabol (Methandienone).
2) Anadrol (Oxymetholone).
3) Turinabol (cholrodehydromethyltestosterone).
Let’s take a look at each of these oral anabolics in turn and explore why they are perfectly suited to bulking.
Dianabol (Chemical name: Methandrostenolone / Methandienone)
If there’s one oral steroid that’s synonymous with bulking up – and perhaps even bodybuilding in general – it’s methandienone, aka Dianabol. Made famous by Arnold Schwarzenegger in the 1960s and 70s, the ‘Breakfast of Champions’, has been the go-to oral bulking anabolic for numerous decades; and it’s easy to see why.
Methandrostenolone offers several benefits for those seeking to gain mass:
– It increases protein synthesis and nitrogen retention, which is needed to build muscle.
– It promotes the accrual of lean muscle mass.
– It increases overall body weight/mass.
– It has a profound effect on strength levels.
As you can see from the above list, methandienone is an exceptional choice for bulking purposes.
How to use Methandienone for Bulking / Gaining Mass
Dosing and cycle length of any steroid cycle will depend on previous steroid experience, the steroids being used in the cycle and body weight; therefore, we’ve provided a rough spectrum of doses to accommodate all users, be they beginners, intermediate or advanced users. Remember, when taking anabolic steroids always start with a low dose to ascertain your individual tolerance to it; then, if tolerated well, doses can be increased.
Dianabol Only Cycle for Bulking Up
Contrary to popular belief, using methandienone by itself for bulking is absolutely fine (for more information, see our main Dianabol article). But how long should your cycle last and what dose should be taken?
Typical cycle length is between four and six weeks, with dosages between 20mg and 60mg per day the most common.
Using Dianabol with Injectables Steroids
Dianabol is most frequently used alongside testosterone when bulking is the goal of the cycle. In most instances, it is used for the first four weeks of the cycle at a dose of between 20 and 50mg per day. Some people use it for the last four weeks of their cycle too, although doing so is less common than using it as a ‘Kickstarter’ at the beginning.
Anadrol (Chemical name: Oxymetholone)
The second most popular oral bulking anabolic is Oxymetholone, aka Anadrol / Androlic /’A-bombs’. Originally used to increase lean muscle mass and weight gain in patients with wasting diseases, Oxymetholone is a potent bulking steroid that may have even more profound effects than Dianabol; therefore, it is an excellent choice for anyone wanting to gain mass.
Anadrol Only Cycle for Bulking Up
Like Dianabol, Anadrol can be used by itself for bulking, despite oral-only cycles often being advised against. It is typically used at doses of between 25mg and 100mg for between four and six weeks.
Using Anadrol with Injectables Steroids
Oxymetholone is most frequently used alongside testosterone for bulking cycles. In most cases, it is used for the first four weeks of the cycle at a dose of between 25 and 100mg per day. Some people use it for the last four weeks of their cycle too, although doing so is less common than using it as a ‘Kickstarter’ at the beginning.
However, it must be noted that oxymetholone use is associated with higher levels of liver toxicity than most other oral steroids, including Dianabol.
Turinabol (Chemical name: 4-chlorodehydrotestosterone)
Turinabol is most famous for the many doping scandals it has been involved in over the last 40 years. Several Eastern European countries predominately used it during the Olympic Games in the ’80s and ’90s. However, it is still used by professional athletes today (which we know by the number of failed doping tests). Although we could focus on this negativity, we shall instead concentrate on why Turinabol has been used for so many years by athletes and bodybuilders alike. The reason? It works.
While it is undoubtedly true that Turinabol is not as potent as either Methandienone or Oxymetholone, it still packs a punch, despite what its anabolic:androgenic rating says (54:6). But what can be expected from it? Modest lean muscle and strength gains, with minimal water retention. You’ll not blow up as you would on Dianabol or Anadrol, but you’ll still be able to build lean muscle mass and get stronger. Period.
Turinabol Only Cycle for Bulking Up
Although it is rare to hear of people doing turinabol only cycles, it is not unheard of. Typical doses are between 40mg and 80mg per day for between six and eight weeks as it is commonly accepted that Turinabol is less liver toxic that the two aforementioned steroids, it can be taken for longer periods of time.
Using Turinabol with Injectable Steroids
Like both methandienone and Oxymetholone, Turinabol is most commonly used at the beginning of longer injectable cycles as a ‘Kickstarter’. Doses for this purpose usually sit between 40mg and 60mg, although some users may increase the dosage as high as 100mg.
Oral Bulking Steroids: Frequently Asked Questions
Can you take Dianabol and Anadrol together?
Conventional wisdom would suggest that taking two orals together is a recipe disaster given that 17-alpha-alkylated steroids cause some degree of hepatotoxicity, and therefore taking two at once would double or increase the potential risks. However, liver toxicity isn’t determined by how many compounds you take, but rather the total dosage ingested. For example, it is highly likely that taking 50mg of Anadrol would have a greater impact on your liver compared to taking 10mg each of Anadrol, Dianabol and Turinabol.
The key issue here is the total dosage. When most people discuss taking two orals at once, it is often assumed that they will both be taken at their ‘regular’ doses, which would of course vastly increase the potential hepatoxicity. However, if doses are cut in half, this should, in theory, induce the same overall effect; therefore, taking 20mg of Dianabol and 25mg of Anadrol should, in theory, have a similar impact on the liver as either 40mg of Dianabol or 50mg of Anadrol.
In short, taking two orals can be done relatively safely, provided that doses of both compounds are cut in half.
What’s the best liver protection for oral steroids?
If you do a Google search for liver protection supplements, you’ll be presented with a myriad of herbal supplements, compounds and products…but which one is the best? According to both scientific and anecdotal evidence, TUDCA (Tauroursodeoxycholic acid) – an amphiphilic bile acid – has been shown to have positive effects on liver health and may help to protect the liver1 when using methylated oral anabolic steroids.
How can I keep gains after my oral bulking cycle?
The most effective method to help you keep as much of your mass and strength gains after your bulking cycle is to ensure you do three things: carry out a full PCT (post cycle therapy); continue eating high protein and calories; take natural supplements to boost performance and strength.
The most common mistake people make after completing their oral bulking cycle is to try to cut straight away. This is the worst thing you can do as you’ll be going from an anabolic (muscle building) environment to a catabolic (muscle wasting) environment at a time when your most anabolic natural hormone, testosterone, is at its very lowest. Doing so is a recipe disaster and will almost certainly result in gains disappearing and performance in gym declining rapidly. To avoid this, keep calories and protein high, continue your weight training program (although be vigilant to strength decreases and adjust accordingly), and consider taking natural supplements such as creatine, which have been proven numerous times over to both boost strength and build muscle mass2.
Can I use Anavar or Winstrol bulking?
In theory, you could use any anabolic steroid for bulking; however, the results would be sub-optimal compared to steroids that excel in this area, i.e. the three anabolics mentioned in this article.
Although oxandrolone (Anavar) was developed to increase lean muscle mass and induce weight gain in those suffering from wasting diseases, it did so at a very slow rate, so while it can be used to build muscle and strength, it will not buy you up the same way Dianabol or Anadrol would. The reason, in part that both methandrostenolone and Oxymetholone are superior bulking anabolics is due to water retention. Although some see this as a downside, the extra water weight increases your overall mass and helps to lubricate your joints, making lifting easier and therefore increasing your strength.
1. Crosignani, A. et al., 2005. Effects of ursodeoxycholic acid on serum liver enzymes and bile acid metabolism in chronic active hepatitis: A dose‐response study. AASLD. Available at: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/1671665/
2. Kreider RB;Kalman DS;Antonio J;Ziegenfuss TN;Wildman R;Collins R;Candow DG;Kleiner SM;Almada AL;Lopez HL; International Society of Sports Nutrition Position Stand: Safety and Efficacy of Creatine Supplementation in Exercise, Sport, and Medicine. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition. Available at: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28615996/