STEROIDS 101

WHAT ARE STEROIDS?

Anabolic Androgenic Steroids (AAS) are a class of steroidal androgenic hormones that have a wide variety of properties and play various roles in the body. Bodybuilders use AAS because they allow them to get bigger and stronger. Steroids build muscle by increasing protein synthesis through the androgen receptor, but they can also increase bone density, cause masculinization (hair loss, body hair growth, deeper voice, beard growth, increased sex drive, etc) and regulate mood, among other effects.

Steroids can be classified in many different ways depending on whether they are naturally-occurring or synthetic, oral or injectable, estrogenic or non-estrogenic, etc… In a bodybuilding context they are usually categorized as Testosterone derivatives, Dihydrotestosterone (DHT) derivatives or Nandrolone (19-Nor) derivatives.


GENERAL BENEFITS

Every AAS has slightly different properties, but in general, all AAS will:

  • Build Muscle by increasing protein synthesis.
  • Increase Bone Density.
  • Increase physical strength and performance.
  • Improve muscle pumps and vascularity (with some exceptions).
  • Improve mood and sex drive (with some exceptions).

The exceptions refer to the fact that some compounds will cause so much water retention, that vascularity won’t actually improve. Some AAS can also have a negative effect on mood and sex drive (more on that later).


GENERAL SIDE-EFFECTS

Since different AAS have different properties, they also have different side-effects. But these are some of the most common side-effects one can experience on steroids:

  • Testosterone shut-down (All AAS will stop your testicles from producing Testosterone to varying degrees. This can lead to low sex drive, erectile dysfunction, testicular atrophy, low motivation, depression and other symptoms if a Testosterone Base is not used).
  • Dyslipidemia (AAS will worsen your cholesterol, HDL, LDL & triglycerides to varying degrees, there are exceptions).
  • Hepatotoxicity (Most oral steroids will damage your liver, and a few injectables might too).
  • Renal damage (Some oral steroids and some injectable steroids can damage your kidneys).
  • Hair loss and/or acne (Some steroids will cause hair loss and/or acne, especially Testosterone and the DHT derivatives, but there are many exceptions to this rule).
  • Gynecomastia (Aromatizing AAS can cause the growth of breast tissue in men by converting to estrogen in excessive amounts).
  • Other side-effects (Aggression, water retention, high blood pressure, tachycardia, thick blood & other user-dependent and drug-related adverse reactions).

TESTOSTERONE & ITS DERIVATIVES

Testosterone is the primary sex hormone and anabolic steroid in males. As such, it is reponsible for the development of male reproductive tissues and masculine characteristics like body hair, facial hair, a deeper voice, muscle mass and bone strength.

Testosterone is essentially what makes us feel like men, without it we would not have a healthy sex drive, we would be unable to reproduce, we would have very little muscle mass and we would feel lethargic and depressed 24/7.

As an exogenous AAS, Testosterone can either be used as TRT for men who suffer from hypogonadism, or as a PED. At a TRT (Testosterone Replacement Therapy) dose, Testosterone is safe and it can have a positive impact on the health and well-being of men, but as a PED, a much larger dose is necessary. This will obviously help with gaining muscle and strength at an unprecedented rate, but it can also cause significant side-effects both in the short and the long term. That being said, Testosterone is one of the safest PEDs out there. Testosterone is almost always injected, but topical formulations exist (Oral Testosterone exists too but it’s barely effective).

This is what one can expect from a high dose Testosterone cycle:

  • Massive increase in muscle mass and strength.
  • Improved well-being and sex drive.
  • Gynecomastia, Water Retention, Hair Loss and/or Acne (if E2 and DHT are not controlled and one is prone to these side-effects).

TESTOSTERONE DERIVATIVES

TURINABOL (ORAL)

  • LEAN MUSCLE GAINS (NO WATER RETENTION)
  • DECENT STRENGTH & PERFORMANCE INCREASE
  • TEST. SHUT DOWN
  • LOW HDL/HIGH LDL + LIVER TOXICITY
  • OVERALL ONE OF THE SAFEST AAS

EQUIPOISE (INJECTABLE)

  • LEAN MUSCLE GAINS (NO WATER RETENTION)
  • MORE STRENGTH & ATHLETIC PERFORMANCE
  • TEST. SHUT DOWN
  • LOW HDL/HIGH LDL + KIDNEY TOXICITY
  • INCREASED APPETITE & RBC COUNT

II-KETOTESTOSTERONE (ORAL OR TOPICAL)

  • MINOR LEAN MUSCLE GAINS (NO WATER RETENTION)
  • MINOR STRENGTH INCREASE
  • TEST. SUPPRESSION (DOESN’T FULLY SHUT DOWN)
  • LOW HDL/HIGH LDL + DRY JOINTS + HAIR LOSS
  • FAT LOSS THROUGH CORTISOL INHIBITION

DIANABOL (ORAL)

  • SIGNIFICANT MUSCLE GAINS
  • MASSIVE VOLUME INCREASE (WATER)
  • MAJOR STRENGTH INCREASE
  • TEST. SHUT DOWN + ESTROGENIC SIDE-EFFECTS
  • LOW HDL/HIGH LDL + LIVER TOXICITY

HALOTESTIN (ORAL)

  • BARELY ANABOLIC
  • ONE OF THE BEST AAS FOR STRENGTH
  • TEST. SHUT DOWN
  • LOW HDL/HIGH LDL + LIVER TOXICITY
  • LIKELY TO CAUSE AGGRESSION & HAIR LOSS

HEXADRONE (ORAL)

  • LEAN MUSCLE GAINS (NO WATER RETENTION)
  • MINOR STRENGTH INCREASE
  • TEST. SHUT DOWN
  • LOW HDL/HIGH LDL + MILD LIVER TOXICITY
  • ESSENTIALLY TURINABOL LITE

DIHYDROTESTOSTERONE & ITS DERIVATIVES

DHT (Dihydrotestosterone) is an androgenic steroid that acts as one of the primary sex hormones in males. DHT is formed from Testosterone when this hormone is catalyzed by the 5a-Reductase enzyme.

DHT is responsible for facial and body hair growth, maturation of male sexual organs during puberty and prostate development. It is also the leading cause of male pattern baldness and benign prostatic hyperplasia.

DHT plays an important role in the sexual health and emotional well-being of men. In fact, some metabolites of DHT have been found to act as neurosteroids which can exhibit antidepressant properties as well as have positive cognitive effects.

DHT and some of its derivatives like Proviron, are often prescribed to teenagers who are struggling to enter puberty. Pure DHT is rarely used as a PED by bodybuilders or athletes, the main reason why is that it is not very anabolic, and the Proviron essentially does the same while being orally bioavailable.

There are tons of DHT derivatives, and despite sharing a parent hormone, they are very different from each other. In general, DHT derivatives are used for cutting / contest prep due to their muscle-hardening effects, but as you will now see, some are excellent mass builders.

DHT DERIVATIVES

WINSTROL (ORAL)

  • LEAN DRY MUSCLE GAINS
  • VASCULARITY
  • DECENT STRENGTH & PERFORMANCE INCREASE
  • TEST. SHUT DOWN
  • LOW HDL/HIGH LDL + LIVER TOXICITY
  • DRY JOINTS HAIR LOSS

PROVIRON (ORAL)

  • BARELY ANABOLIC
  • ANTI-ESTROGEN
  • USED TO ACHIEVE A DRY AND VASCULAR LOOK
  • IMPROVES MOOD AND LIBIDO
  • MILD TEST. SUPPRESSION AND LIVER TOXICITY
  • LOW HDL/HIGH LDL
  • HAIR LOSS & ACNE

PRIMOBOLAN (INJECTABLE OR ORAL)

  • MODEST LEAN MUSCLE GAINS
  • MINOR STRENGTH & PERFORMANCE INCREASE
  • TEST. SUPPRESSION
  • HAIR LOSS IS POSSIBLE
  • OFTEN COUNTERFEITED / HARD TO FIND LEGIT
  • ONE OF THE MOST WELL-TOLERATED AAS

ANAVAR (ORAL)

  • LEAN DRY MUSCLE GAINS
  • VASCULARITY
  • DECENT STRENGTH & PERFORMANCE INCREASE
  • TEST. SHUT DOWN
  • LOW HDL/HIGH LDL
  • KIDNEY DAMAGE IS POSSIBLE
  • RELATIVELY FORGIVING
  • FEMALE-FRIENDLY

MASTERON (INJECTABLE)

  • LEAN DRY MUSCLE GAINS + VASCULARITY
  • ANTI-ESTROGEN, BOOSTS LIBIDO AND MOOD
  • TEST. SHUT DOWN
  • HAIR LOSS & ACNE
  • CONSIDERED ONE OF THE SAFEST INJECTABLES

ANADROL (ORAL)

  • MAJOR MUSCLE GAINS (IN PART WATER RETENTION)
  • IMPRESSIVE STRENGTH INCREASE
  • TEST. SHUT DOWN
  • HAIR LOSS & ACNE
  • LOW HDL/HIGH LDL
  • VERY LIVER TOXIC
  • CAN CAUSE GYNO THROUGH UNIQUE MECHANISM

NANDROLONE & ITS DERIVATIVES

Nandrolone (19-Nortestosterone) is a naturally-ocurring AAS with tons of medical and performance-enhancing applications.

This is a very powerful and anabolic AAS, which stands out for being extremely effective for gaining muscle mass and strength. For that reason, it has become one of the go-to injectable AAS for bodybuilders trying to bulk up.

Unlike other AAS, the risk for hair loss and acne is very low, but it can cause gynecomastia due to progestogenic activity. Furthermore, it is known for being able to easily cause sexual dysfunction due to not being sufficiently androgenic.

However, the main drawback to using Nandrolone or any of its derivatives, is that it is extremely suppressive of endogenous Testosterone, which makes recovering from a cycle a very challenging feat. It is unclear why this happens, but some people have theorized that 19-Nor AAS leave suppressive metabolites in the body for extended periods of time. Other theories suggest that this unusually harsh suppression is due to the progestogenic nature of 19-Nors.

It is also worth noting that a lot of people think that Nandrolone = Deca. Not exactly, Deca-Durabolin is a long-acting form of Nandrolone, but a short-acting form named Nandrolone Phenylproprionate (NPP) also exists.

NANDROLONE DERIVATIVES

TRENBOLONE (INJECTABLE)

  • INSANE LEAN MUSCLE GAINS + VASCULARITY
  • MAJOR STRENGTH INCREASE
  • SEVERE TEST. SHUT DOWN
  • SERIOUSLY DANGEROUS TO THE HEART
  • LIVER TOXICITY
  • KIDNEY DAMAGE
  • LIKELY TO CAUSE AGGRESSION & PARANOIA
  • EXCESS SWEATING
  • CAN INTERFERE WITH YOUR NEUROCHEMISTRY
  • INSOMNIA
  • INSANE SEX DRIVE OR NONE AT ALL
  • GYNECOMASTIA THROUGH PROGESTIN PATHWAY

TRESTOLONE (INJECTABLE OR ORAL)

  • INSANE MUSCLE GAINS (+ WATER RETENTION)
  • MAJOR STRENGTH INCREASE
  • SEVERE TEST. SHUT DOWN
  • PROGESTOGENIC, ANDROGENIC & ESTROGENIC ACTIVITY
  • HAIR LOSS IS VERY LIKELY TO HAPPEN
  • BOOSTS MOOD & LIBIDO (IF ESTROGEN IS IN CHECK)
  • VERY LIVER TOXIC IF USED ORALLY

IMPORTANT CONCEPTS

TEST BASE

A lot of people think they can safely run standalone oral-only cycles, and that’s not entirely true. Most AAS are not estrogenic and since they shut down endogenous Testosterone, there is a lack of estrogen which leads to low sex drive, sexual dysfunction, lethargy, dry joints, etc… For that reason, it is generally recommended to use Testosterone as base to guarantee that there is a healthy amount of circulating estrogen. Other estrogenic steroids can also be used as a “Test Base”.

POST-CYCLE THERAPY (PCT)

AAS will shut down your natural testosterone production, therefore it will be necessary to undergo a Post-Cycle Therapy with SERMs after a cycle to restore endogenous testosterone levels. Check out my SARMs 101 article for a more in-depth explanation of PCT (the content on PCT there applies to AAS too).

BLAST & CRUISE (BnC)

Some users choose to Blast and Cruise instead of doing traditional cycles + PCT. BnC consists in using Testosterone as a bridge between “Blasts” (Cycle equivalents) instead of coming off everything and undergoing a PCT. People who are on TRT are doing BnC when they blast AAS/SARMs.

SERMs

Selective Estrogen Receptor Modulators are a class of drugs originally developed to treat breast cancer and female infertility. They are used as PCT to restore baseline hormone levels after a cycle, but some can also be used to prevent gynecomastia (male breast tissue).

AROMATASE INHIBITOR (AI)

When using AAS that can convert into Estrogen, it may be necessary to use an AI (Aromatase Inhibitor) to prevent excess estrogen levels. These drugs inhibit the enzyme through which Testosterone (or Dianabol, or Trestolone) converts into Estrogen, in order to keep levels from skyrocketing during a cycle.

ANCILLARIES

Ancillaries is an umbrella term for all the drugs and supplements that can or must be used during and after a steroid cycle to mitigate side-effects and recovery properly. Als and SERMs are examples of ancillaries.

ESTER

Esters are chains of atoms that, when attached to an AAS, slow down its release into the bloodstream. Some AAS are only available in one or two esters, but others are sold in a wide variety of different esters (Testosterone being the main example).

HALF-LIFE

Time it takes for the blood levels of an AAS (or any other substance) to drop by 50%.

INTRAMUSCULAR & SUBCUTANEOUS INJECTIONS

Injectable AAS can be administered intramuscularly or subcutaneously. Intramuscular injections are almost always preferable unless a small amount of oil is being injected. The PIP (Post-Injection Pain) with intramuscular injections tends to be much worse.

BLOODWORK

It is important to get bloodwork done often, preferably before and after a cycle, to be able to compare our baseline levels with our post-cycle levels and be able to assess whether our health has recovered or not.


Thank you for reading! This post will be updated over time, so be sure to bookmark it for future reference. I am currently working on writing the most comprehensive book on Steroids ever written, so be sure to follow me on Instagram by clicking here, to be notified as soon as I launch it.

Take care!

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