Top 5 Bulking Steroids (Used by the Pros)
Disclaimer: The following article is for educational purposes only and does not promote the use of illegal steroids. If you have any questions or concerns, Dr. Touliatos is currently available for consultation.
Bulking steroids can be defined as:
Anabolic steroids that have exceptional capabilities in regards to building muscular size and strength.
Simply put, if you want to get jacked, bulking steroids are the key.
They were used in Arnold’s day to pack on mass in the off-season, and we still see them used today with great success (albeit with higher dosages and more potent compounds available).
If a bodybuilder were to be a sculpture, bulking steroids would be the equivalent of adding clay. This is the mass needed to stand out, command a presence, and become a masterpiece.
In this article, we’ll dissect the top 5 steroids in bodybuilding and the pros and cons of each, helping you get a better understanding of each compound.
Top 5 Bulking Steroids
Dianabol is the most popular bulking steroid, which is no surprise considering it helped bulk up a certain young Austrian kid who went on to become the greatest bodybuilder of all time.
Dianabol was created in 1955 by Dr. John Ziegler, an American doctor who worked with the USA Olympic weightlifting team. Coincidentally, it was in Austria that Dr. Ziegler experienced a eureka moment to synthesize Dianabol. He was speaking with a Russian physicist in a bar when, over a few drinks, he revealed that the Soviet’s success was due to the fact they were doping, specifically using testosterone.
Thus, Dr. Ziegler realized that he would need to create a compound significantly more anabolic than testosterone in order to restore the American’s athletic success.
Dr. Ziegler did just that, formulating Dianabol, a steroid with over 2x the anabolic rating of Testosterone. However, merely creating a new, revolutionary steroid wasn’t enough to prevent the Russian’s continued dominance.
To many people’s delight, and unlike testosterone, Dianabol is an oral steroid (requiring no injections).
Dbol can also be taken as an injectable; however, we see tablets being a lot more common on the black market.
Legal Dianabol Alternative
We have seen Dianabol add 20–30 pounds of mass in a single cycle. Strength levels can also increase significantly, with users often lifting 50+ pounds heavier on compound exercises.
In regards to gains, Dianabol’s up there with the very best steroids on the market.
Dianabol is also not very androgenic. Thus, hair loss, acne, oily skin, and prostate issues are seldom issues among our patients. This was the second goal of Dr. Ziegler’s master plan: not only was Dianabol to be more anabolic than testosterone, but it was also less androgenic.
This was important after hearing that the young Russian athletes had to be catheterized in order to urinate, signifying prostate enlargement.
Dianabol is a very hepatotoxic steroid, being a C17-alpha-alkylated drug. Thus, in order to stay active, it needs to pass through the liver, consequently causing significant stress.
However, we find such hepatic stress to be temporary, often reversing post-cycle. Yet, the risk of liver damage increases if large doses are taken for extended periods of time.
For maximum protection, users should limit their Dianabol cycle to 6–8 weeks. More cautious novice users may only take Dianabol for 5 weeks.
We have found that supplementing with TUDCA prevents ALT and AST liver enzymes from rising too high. These are markers of stress on the organ.
Based on our lipid profiles, Dianabol is one of the worst steroids for elevating blood pressure. This is mainly due to three reasons:
- Exogenous testosterone
- Hepatic lipase stimulation
- Water retention
Dianabol raises LDL cholesterol while lowering HDL levels, simply because it’s exogenous testosterone. When testosterone levels reach sky-high levels, the body will naturally raise estrogen levels to regulate cholesterol. This is because testosterone spikes LDL cholesterol (the bad kind), while high estrogen spikes HDL (the good kind).
The second reason why Dianabol strains the heart is that it’s an oral steroid. We find that when orals pass through the liver, they stimulate an enzyme known as hepatic lipase. This consequently lowers good cholesterol (HDL) and further elevates BP.
Thirdly, Dianabol can impact blood flow to and from the heart because it’s an estrogenic steroid. This is due to the process of aromatization, when testosterone converts into estrogen. Unfortunately, when estrogen rises, water retention follows.
Fluid retention on Dbol can be significant, with bloating being a common side effect. The reason water retention strains the heart is that it increases blood viscosity (water makes up more than half of total blood volume). This causes the heart to beat harder for optimal blood flow, and thus blood pressure spikes.
Dianabol also comes with a risk of gynecomastia due to its strong conversion of testosterone into estrogen. It is not recommended to take an AI (aromatase inhibitor) to prevent gyno, as doing so will worsen blood pressure (as HDL levels will drop).
Instead, we have found SERMs to be a better option (specifically Nolvadex), which will not lower estrogen levels but instead inhibit its effects (particularly in the mammary glands).
We see Dbol cause a large spike in testosterone levels as users inject a potent form of exogenous testosterone into the body. However, endogenous testosterone declines rapidly, as the body detects total testosterone levels being excessively high. Thus, it tries to keep homeostasis this way, which is why we utilize PCTs in a bid to restore optimal hormone function.
- Dianabol/Deca Durabolin
Testosterone was the first-ever steroid, created in 1935 after being extracted from a bull’s testicles (1).
Testosterone is a bulking steroid that can produce similar effects to Dianabol, with large gains in muscle size and strength to be expected (2).
We have seen users gain 20+ pounds of weight from a Testosterone cycle, which is still today considered the best cycle for beginners. This is due to Testosterone being a milder compound than Dianabol, causing significantly less strain on the heart and virtually no risks to the liver.
The main difference between Testosterone and Dianabol is the method of administration, with Testosterone being an injectable steroid. Testosterone also has a higher androgenic rating, so we observe more cases of hair loss, prostate enlargement, acne, and oily skin in comparison to Dianabol.
A more androgenic steroid, however, can promote fat loss when bulking due to androgen receptors reducing lipid uptake while stimulating lipolysis.
This means that despite Testosterone being a bulking steroid, it has the power to burn fat; as well as build large amounts of muscle. This is why we see Testosterone also used during cutting cycles to enhance fat burning.
In our experience, Testosterone is the safest steroid, and is available as an injectable or an oral.
Testosterone is predominantly an injectable steroid; however, Testosterone Undecanoate is the oral form. The main difference here is that the oral form is a lot more expensive.
Testosterone is androgenic, so some hair loss can be expected on the scalp. Those who experienced acne during puberty may also be triggered by new bouts (due to enhanced sebum production).
Testosterone has the potential to cause gyno due to aromatization (3), thus, sensitive individuals may want to take a SERM, especially when stacking Testosterone with other estrogenic bulking steroids.
Based on our SHBG tests, testosterone suppression will be significant post-cycle. Thus, it’ll take several weeks or months to recover testosterone to normal levels (depending on the effectiveness of the PCT).
Due to testosterone being predominantly injectable, it’s not great news for those who want to stick to orals. Although it’s available in tablet form, it is less commonly found on the black market.
We find some testosterone injections are known to cause discomfort or pain, particularly propionate. When taking a short Testosterone ester, this also requires frequent injections to keep serum testosterone levels consistently peaking (instead of crashing). Thus, most users will opt for Testosterone Enanthate or Testosterone Cypionate, which only require injections every 4–5 days.
Anadrol (Oxymetholone) is a potent bulking steroid, created in 1959 and initially used in medicine to help chronically underweight patients.
We have seen a single Anadrol cycle add 30+ pounds to users while enhancing strength to monstrous levels. Strength gains are literally so impressive, users should be cautious about lifting too heavy.
We have had patients experience injuries, such as ruptured tendons and torn muscles, when lifts go up too much, too soon. The body needs time to adapt, and thus adding 50 pounds to your bench press in the first 2 weeks on Anadrol will strain the body significantly. Therefore, it’s wise to add weight slowly and perform more repetitions where possible on Anadrol.
Anadrol is an oral bulking steroid, so it’s easy to administer. Anadrol typically comes in 50-mg pills, which is convenient considering bodybuilding dosages are often 50–100 mg per day.
The size and strength gains on Anadrol are unrivaled by any other bulking steroid. The pumps, due to a significant increase in intracellular volume, are also mind-blowing (and sometimes painful). Thus, it might be worth saving the supersets and drop sets until your Anadrol cycle is over.
By this point, you’re probably wondering why Anadrol isn’t more popular given its exceptional power for building muscle and strength.
The reason why is because of its toxicity. Anadrol is not suitable for beginners and is predominantly taken by advanced users only. This is due to Anadrol’s deleterious effects on the heart and liver (4,5).
We typically see Anadrol causing sharp rises in blood pressure due to the increase in water retention, testosterone levels, red blood cell count, and stimulating hepatic lipase (lowering HDL cholesterol). All of these combined make the blood more viscous, taking a toll on the heart. Thus, it needs to pump harder for the necessary blood flow.
We find Anadrol to be one of the worst steroids for the liver, being very hepatotoxic. Thus, Anadrol cycles should be kept short and should be avoided by users who would typically drink alcohol during a cycle.
The risk of gynecomastia is also a risk for Anadrol, with it possessing potent estrogenic properties. However, unlike Testosterone and Dianabol, it doesn’t aromatize. Thus, users who want to combat this effect by taking an AI will do so to no avail. SERMs, however, are effective in our experience, as they target the mammary glands directly, blocking estrogen’s effects. Nolvadex and Clomid may be taken together with Anadrol for extra protection.
As estrogen levels rise, water retention also follows. This can be particularly severe on Anadrol when bulking in the off-season (consuming excess calories and high levels of sodium).
We have seen water retention kept at bay on Anadrol when calories are lower (small calorie deficit or maintenance calories) with low levels of sodium.
Men’s physique competitors are prime examples of this; they often cycle Anadrol before a competition to look big and full (with no water retention). Thus, there appears to be a connection between sodium intake and water accumulation when estrogen levels are high. So, your diet with Anadrol can be the difference between looking smooth and bloated or jacked.
However, Anadrol in most cases does cause significant fluid retention, causing users to lose some weight post-cycle (approximately 10 lbs).
Considering our muscles are made up of 70-75% water, some muscle shrinkage can be expected once we stop taking Anadrol.
Androgenic side effects are also common, due to Anadrol’s notable androgenic properties. Some of our patients experience hair loss, thinning, recession, or oily skin.
Users will typically crash post-Anadrol cycle, requiring an aggressive PCT.
- Anadrol/Deca Durabolin
Trenbolone is arguably the most aesthetic bulking steroid on the planet. This is because it builds exceptional amounts of lean mass while drying out the body.
This creates a big and ripped appearance, not your typical ‘off-season bulking look’.
The two most popular forms of Trenbolone are enanthate and acetate, both of which are injectable.
In terms of lean muscle gains, Trenbolone certainly rivals Dianabol and Anadrol in our experience. However, it won’t reflect that on the scales as it doesn’t cause any water retention; thus, users won’t gain a ton of weight.
Instead, we find Trenbolone rids the body of water, hence why muscle definition increases on-cycle. Generally, people have some extracellular fluid that collects around the outside of the muscles. Tren reduces this water, causing the lines that detail your muscles to become more pronounced (combined with enhanced vascularity).
Trenbolone, being an injectable, isn’t harsh on the liver; thus, there’s no need to worry about liver damage when following moderate cycles.
Trenbolone is one of the most potent steroids on the market for simply transforming your body and taking it to new levels. With other bulking steroids, you will gain a lot of size, but with Trenbolone, the difference in the mirror is more dramatic due to its muscle-building attributes coupled with simultaneous fat loss.
Trenbolone is a potent fat burner due to its highly androgenic nature. Androgenic receptors have the power to kickstart lipolysis and thus help strip away fat.
We do not see Trenbolone causing much fat loss when bulking; however, this can be attributed to calorie-surplus diets. Thus, those who are cutting often see their body fat percentage decrease rapidly. This is why Trenbolone isn’t just used as a bulking steroid but also as a cutting one.
Trenbolone is 5x more androgenic than Testosterone.
Trenbolone is also very powerful for enhancing strength, being considered one of the best steroids for explosive power (hence why it’s used among athletes).
We find Trenbolone acetate kicks in fast, with users experiencing huge gains in the first couple of weeks. Trenbolone acetate has a half-life of 72 hours; however, enanthate takes a little longer to take effect (containing longer esters).
Trenbolone enanthate’s half-life is 11 days; however, it will require less frequent injections, with it taking longer to exit the body.
Trenbolone’s benefits are quite phenomenal; however, the side effects are enough to put off the faint-hearted.
Trenbolone will cause testosterone levels to shut down, causing an imminent crash post-cycle. Thus, we often utilize powerful PCTs to maintain physiological and psychological health, as well as retaining gains.
Trenbolone will also cause sharp rises in blood pressure due to its stimulative effects, combined with its devastating effects on cholesterol. Consequently, we see some users develop a pinkish colour to their skin, signifying an elevated body temperature or higher blood pressure. This can also increase sweating, known as ‘Tren sweats’.
Trenbolone also appears to arouse the central nervous system more than other steroids; thus, insomnia, anxiety, and depression have been reported in some users. If you are sensitive to caffeine, energy drinks, or pre-workouts, Trenbolone is likely to exacerbate your mental health.
Users have also experienced shorter tempers, feeling irritable, and even paranoid about normal situations (sometimes leading to jealousy in relationships).
We find Trenbolone can also trigger violent coughing, experienced immediately after injecting. This is due to Tren being more susceptible to irritating the lungs compared to other bulking steroids. This occurs when the oil hits a blood vessel, occurring in roughly 20% of injections. Due to the frequency of injections, this may not happen often with Tren enanthate, but more so with Tren acetate.
Trenbolone will also cause androgenic side effects, with sensitive users experiencing bad cases of acne and hair loss or recession. If you desperately want to keep your precious hair follicles intact, Trenbolone may not be the steroid for you.
5. Deca Durabolin
Deca Durabolin (Nandrolone) is a very underrated bulking steroid. In bodybuilding circles, it probably doesn’t receive the praise it deserves; however, the fact that Arnold and bodybuilders from the golden era cycled it religiously with Dianabol speaks volumes.
There are a few reasons why Deca Durabolin is not the number one steroid on juicehead shopping lists.
Firstly, it’s an injectable, which is a turn-off for some.
Secondly, it’s made up of long esters, so it takes a while to kick in (requiring patience).
Thirdly, it’s not a steroid that’s powerful enough to produce big gains by itself. However, Deca is a unique steroid with several benefits that make it worthy of being included in our top 5 bulking steroids.
Muscle and strength gains are the two main benefits of taking Deca. If someone were to gain 20 pounds on Dianabol and then stack their next cycle with Deca (for the first time), they’d likely gain a further 10–15 pounds.
We have seen Deca Durabolin being great for the joints due to its increased collagen synthesis and fluid retention. Thus, with extra water cushioning the joints combined with the anti-inflammatory properties of collagen, Deca is ideal if you like to lift heavy and want to avoid joint problems later in life.
Deca durabolin is not androgenic. Thus, users have a significantly reduced risk of hair thinning or recession on the scalp. This may explain why bodybuilders from the ’70s had thicker hair compared to bodybuilders today (who take more androgenic steroids).
Due to its weak androgenicity, we have seen it cycled by women successfully, with low incidences of virilization (although still possible).
Deca is one of the mildest steroids you can take. It doesn’t pose an excessive strain on the heart, with it raising blood pressure just slightly more than Testosterone. Liver toxicity is also very unlikely, with it not being c17 alpha-alkylated.
Erectile dysfunction is a notorious side effect associated with Nandrolone, known as ‘Deca dick’.
There are a couple of reasons why this can occur. Firstly, Deca Durabolin raises prolactin, which is known to reduce libido in men.
Also, when endogenous testosterone levels are low, the androgenic properties of steroids can maintain sexual performance. This is due to DHT playing a role in nitric oxide production and, thus, blood flow to the penis. Thus, when our patients take Deca alone, their performance in the bedroom often suffers.
One way we counteract Deca dick is to stack Deca Durabolin with an androgenic bulking steroid, such as Testosterone, Trenbolone, or Anadrol. Even Dianabol will have enough androgenicity to prevent your penis from going limp.
Another methodology we use is supplementing with Dostinex (cabergoline) during each Deca cycle, which inhibits prolactin production and maintains a normal libido.
Deca can cause gynecomastia in men, despite not being estrogenic. It does this by raising progesterone, which has similar effects in regards to the mammary glands, causing swollen nipples and enlarged breast tissue. Users shouldn’t run a SERM (such as Nolvadex) when taking Deca, as they have the potential to exacerbate progesterone levels and increase the chance of gynecomastia forming. Instead, we have found AIs to be effective, although at the cost of raising blood pressure further.
Testosterone production will also take a hit post-cycle on Deca (as with other bulking steroids).
- Deca durabolin/Dianabol
- Deca durabolin/Testosterone
- Deca durabolin/Anadrol
What is the best bulking steroid?
This is subjective to the user and their goals. For example, if the goal is to gain as much mass as possible, Dianabol or Anadrol would be optimal compounds.
However, if a person wanted to perform a ‘lean bulk’, packing on muscle without gaining water or fat, Trenbolone would be the best option.
Furthermore, if they wanted to use a bulking steroid, that was the safest in terms of side effects; Testosterone comes out on top.
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