First Steroid Cycle: The Ultimate Guide
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.
A first steroid cycle is often the most exciting one, with a man or woman set to experience the best gains of their life.
Gaining 20–30 pounds of muscle during a first cycle is common in our experience, even if the person has limited knowledge of steroids, nutrition, and training.
This demonstrates the power of anabolic steroids.
However, with great power comes great responsibility.
A person’s first steroid cycle is the most important one to minimize side effects, with the body being completely new to potentially dangerous compounds.
Although many anabolic steroids are banned by the FDA today, there are precautions a bodybuilder can take to limit the risks.
- Taking mild anabolic steroids (with lowered toxicity)
- Taking conservative dosages
- Running a cycle for a conservative amount of time
Furthermore, abusing steroids by taking high dosages and running the steroid for excessive periods of time are big errors that we commonly see among bodybuilders.
The below steroid cycles are tailored for beginners, helping to maximize gains while minimizing negative effects.
In our experience, a testosterone cycle is the best protocol for a first-time steroid user.
Not only will testosterone produce the gains most beginners are looking for, such as 20–30 pounds of muscle gains and incredible strength increases.
Testosterone also has no negative effects on the liver (1), as shown in our LFTs (liver function tests). Furthermore, testosterone only mildly increases LDL cholesterol levels in our patients’ labs when taking sensible dosages.
Thus, testosterone’s hepatotoxicity and cardiotoxicity are manageable for many users.
There is no need to cycle testosterone beyond 7 weeks as a newbie, and there is no need to go above 350mg of testosterone per week.
We have seen elite bodybuilders take double this dose comfortably; however, a beginner will be more susceptible to side effects (as they’ve had no time to build up a tolerance).
Users may use any testosterone ester and experience exceptional gains. The ester won’t determine your results as such, although it can make a difference to how fast you gain muscle in the early stages of your cycle (when using short esters).
We have found Testosterone Cypionate and Enanthate to be the most convenient esters, as they are not typically troublesome to inject and do not need to be injected often. Both of these esters are also very affordable.
Note: Although oral testosterone is available under the brand name Andriol (Testosterone Undecanoate), testosterone is predominantly taken in injectable form, as Andriol is very expensive in comparison.
Those taking testosterone may want to run a PCT after their cycle, as endogenous testosterone levels will take a hit (2). Generally, natural levels can return to peak levels several months after a cycle ends. However, if administering an effective PCT, this process shortens, with our patient’s testosterone levels normalizing after 30-45 days.
Although testosterone doesn’t provide a dramatic spike in blood pressure, users may still want to supplement with fish oil (taking 4 grams per day) to ease the strain on the heart.
Testosterone does convert into estrogen, so some water retention is to be expected. There is also a risk of gynecomastia due to this female hormone rising. Thus, users may want to take a SERM or an AI to prevent such estrogenic side effects.
We prefer SERMs (selective estrogen receptor modulators) to AIs (aromatase inhibitors), as the latter can negatively affect cholesterol values. This is because they block estrogen levels, lowering good HDL cholesterol while increasing LDL.
SERMs prevent gyno by specifically blocking estrogenic effects in the mammary glands while keeping blood pressure stable (3).
Acne and hair loss (on the scalp) are also common symptoms among users, due to testosterone’s moderate androgenic properties.
Legal Steroid Alternatives That Work
Anavar is another suitable first steroid cycle, common among men and women.
A man may take Anavar for his first cycle if he wants to avoid needles (with Anavar being an oral).
Also, Anavar may be chosen if big muscle and strength gains aren’t needed, with the person preferring more fat loss and smaller gains in size and strength.
Anavar is one of the safest steroids a beginner can take due to its mild side effects. It is rare in our experience for Anavar users to develop any serious complications (when taken diligently in short cycles).
Testosterone and many other steroids are unsuitable for women because they can cause virilization effects such as enlargement of the clitoris, deepened voice, reduction in breast size, and an increase in bodily hair (4). However, we find Anavar rarely causes virilization in women when taking modest doses.
An Anavar cycle has the power to significantly reduce a person’s body fat percentage while adding 10–15 pounds of muscle mass. Its anabolic effects are considerably less compared to bulking steroids, such as Testosterone, Dianabol, Anadrol, etc.; however, the gains in size and strength aren’t to be scoffed at. Anavar is generally classified as a cutting steroid due to its potent fat-burning effects.
Anavar is an oral steroid that is notorious for causing liver toxicity. However, Anavar is the exception, with it raising liver values considerably less than Anadrol, Dianabol, Winstrol, and other orals.
This is partly because the kidneys work synergistically with the liver to break down oxandrolone, reducing its workload.
Anavar will raise cholesterol levels, contributing to an increase in blood pressure. This effect, however, is mild based on our lipid profiles. However, 4 grams of fish oil per day remains an effective protocol for optimal cardiovascular health.
Anavar will cause a significant decrease in natural testosterone levels; however, we do not find it to be as suppressive as other anabolic steroids. Thus, a PCT may be used; however, it’s not compulsory. Those wanting to restore their testosterone sooner can take Clomid post-cycle.
Women may also experience crash-like symptoms post-cycle on Anavar, with testosterone still being an important hormone for their libido and well-being. Our female patients have had success taking DHEA post-cycle to accelerate the recovery of their natural testosterone production.
What about Dianabol for the first steroid cycle?
Taking Dianabol as a first steroid cycle is relatively common, although not optimal.
Beginners who do opt for Dianabol generally do so because they want huge muscle and strength gains but don’t want to take an injectable.
The downside to Dianabol is that it poses significant liver strain while having a more devastating effect on blood pressure compared to Testosterone or Anavar.
We see liver values and blood pressure typically dropping back down post-cycle; however, it’s not the most health-conscious compound for a first-cycle.
If a novice did want to run Dianabol, it would be wise to follow the dosing protocol below:
We find that beginners who supplement with TUDCA often have lower liver values on-cycle. A dose of 500 mg/day will help to keep ALT and AST levels from rising excessively on Dianabol.
A SERM such as Nolvadex may also be taken during this cycle to prevent the onset of gynecomastia.
Other Suitable Steroids for Beginners
Deca Durabolin, Primobolan, and Turinabol are some other anabolic steroids that beginners may use. However, in our experience, these compounds are not optimal for a user’s first steroid cycle.
Deca Durabolin is a very effective mass-building steroid, albeit with marginal results when used by itself. Stacking is not recommended for the first cycle in order to minimize side effects; thus, Deca Durabolin is better implemented in follow-up cycles.
Primobolan is a mild anabolic steroid, with its side effects being manageable for first-time steroid users. However, its anabolic effects are less than those of injectable testosterone, and its fat-burning effects are inferior to Anavar. Thus, taking Primobolan on its own might not make for the most exciting first steroid cycle.
Turinabol is an exceptional anabolic steroid, replicating most of Dianabol’s lean mass gains but without the water retention. As with the case of Dianabol, Turinabol would make for an effective first cycle, but we find it poses more side effects than novices taking Testosterone or Anavar.
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