Top 7 Testosterone Cycles: 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.
In 1935, testosterone became the first-ever anabolic steroid, being extracted from a bull’s testicles.
Testosterone later came to market in the ’50s via the pharmaceutical company Upjohn.
People often assume that as time passes, technology and knowledge evolve; thus, the potency of “supplements” also follows suit.
However, this isn’t the case, with testosterone still being one of the best steroids on the market today.
In our experience, testosterone’s risk-to-reward ratio is perhaps the greatest out of all anabolic steroids. This is also why doctors are happy to issue TRT prescriptions to hundreds of thousands of men worldwide.
Testosterone is the number one steroid used in beginner cycles, while also acting as a base in more advanced cycles.
As a result of the steroid’s popularity, Upjohn is still manufacturing testosterone today, almost a century later (under a different name, Pharmacia & Upjohn).
Testosterone was also a popular steroid during the golden era of bodybuilding, helping to produce physiques that are not only remembered today but even idolized and regarded as the greatest in history.
- 1 Different Types of Testosterone
- 2 Top 7 Testosterone Cycles
- 3 Testosterone Cycle For Beginners
- 4 Testosterone Cycle Before and After
- 5 Testosterone Cycle (Higher Dose)
- 6 Testosterone and Dianabol Cycle
- 7 Testosterone and Deca Durabolin Cycle
- 8 Testosterone and Trenbolone Cycles
- 9 Testosterone and Anavar Cycles
- 10 Testosterone and Anadrol Cycle
- 11 Testosterone / Anadrol / Trenbolone Cycle
- 12 FAQ
- 13 Summary
Different Types of Testosterone
The four most popular esters of testosterone are:
- Testosterone Suspension
- Testosterone Propionate
- Testosterone Enanthate
- Testosterone Cypionate (aka depo-testosterone)
No ester is essentially better than another, as they’re all effectively testosterone. However, how fast they kick in and how long each ester takes to clear out of the body varies.
Testosterone suspension is not recommended for beginners due to its fast-acting nature (being pure testosterone in water). Thus, it requires very frequent injections (2x a day) in order to maintain peak serum testosterone levels in the bloodstream.
Some of our patients have found suspension injections to be painful due to the fact that they require a bigger needle (due to their larger, non-micronized crystals).
Testosterone Propionate is another fast-acting ester, albeit slower than suspension. We find this ester less popular due to its high cost. Some bodybuilders think propionate is cheap because its price is lower; however, propionate is dosed at 100 mg/mL instead of 250 mg/mL (the usual test dosage).
Thus, you’ll need to pay 2.5 times this price to run a standard testosterone cycle.
Testosterone propionate eventually works out to be 50% higher in cost compared to other esters.
Also, because propionate injections are known to be painful, many bodybuilders opt for a different ester.
Testosterone Enanthate and Cypionate
Enanthate and cytopionate are the two most popular forms of testosterone, made up of longer esters that are slower to take effect.
This means users only need to inject once every 4–5 days, yet they can experience the same gains at the end of a cycle compared to the faster esters.
Since Testosterone Cypionate arrived on the scene, we have seen it become considerably more popular than Enanthate in the US due to its limited availability worldwide, consequently becoming a native favorite.
Furthermore, cypionate injections may provide less irritation than enanthate for some users.
Top 7 Testosterone Cycles
Testosterone Cycle For Beginners
Using testosterone cypionate or enanthate
This testosterone cycle for beginners, despite being cautiously dosed, will produce significant increases in muscular size and strength.
A first-time cycle (like this one) can produce approximately 20 pounds of lean mass.
We have also seen strength increases of 30–50lbs being common on compound lifts, with users effortlessly smashing through PRs.
Muscle pumps will also be cosmic, due to large amounts of intracellular fluid filling the muscle cells.
Disclosure: We do not accept any form of advertising on Inside Bodybuilding. We monetize our practice via doctor consultations and carefully chosen supplement recommendations, which have given our patients excellent results.
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Testosterone Side Effects
Based on our tests, we consider testosterone to have the best safety profile of any other steroid.
With testosterone being an injectable steroid, it enters the bloodstream immediately, thus providing no obvious strain to the liver. One study found that administering 400mg of oral testosterone per day for 20 days had no adverse effects on liver enzymes (1). Our patients’ LFTs (liver function tests) also show this.
We find that testosterone in low to moderate doses only causes a mild spike in LDL cholesterol values, causing a subtle rise in blood pressure.
Other steroids have a much worse effect on BP, significantly increasing the risk of heart disease.
Testosterone may cause androgenic-related side effects, as the Soviet Olympic team found out: having to use a catheter in order to urinate. Testosterone was the earliest form of steroid doping, which gave them a unique advantage (at the expense of an enlarged prostate).
Oily skin, acne, and thinning of hair on the scalp are other possible androgenic side effects of testosterone that our patients sometimes experience. An increase in body or facial hair is also common.
Gynecomastia is a possibility for genetically sensitive users due to testosterone aromatizing and therefore being an estrogenic compound. Water retention is also to be expected.
When treating gynecomastia, we often have success with SERMs, such as Nolvadex, to prevent any potential expansion of the breast tissue. Nolvadex blocks estrogen, specifically in the mammary glands, while keeping estrogen levels circulating throughout the body. This significantly reduces the risk of gynecomastia without drastically lowering overall estrogen levels (thus keeping HDL cholesterol and serotonin levels optimal).
Testosterone will suppress endogenous testosterone production post-cycle, causing a crash on a hormonal level. We find it takes 1-4 months for natural testosterone levels to recover, depending on the dose, length of cycle, and how often the person uses steroids. However, our patients often utilize a PCT to shorten this time, also benefiting them psychologically (giving them a normal sense of well-being).
Testosterone Cycle Before and After
This before-and-after transformation is typical of a bodybuilder’s results after taking a low-dose testosterone cycle for the first time. Users will lose fat and gain significant amounts of muscle (roughly 20 pounds).
Testosterone Cycle (Higher Dose)
After a person’s first testosterone cycle, the above protocol can be utilized (with higher dosages).
Staying on a low dose can quickly lead to plateaus; however, by increasing the dose and length of the cycle, users can continue adding muscle and strength.
A further 10 pounds of lean muscle is likely with this follow-up cycle.
Naturally, this cycle can increase the degree of side effects compared to the beginner protocol. Thus, testosterone suppression is likely to be heightened post-cycle, as is water retention, the risk of gyno, etc.
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Testosterone and Dianabol Cycle
This is a common bulking cycle that combines two of the most powerful mass-building steroids together. The addition of Dianabol will greatly enhance muscle and strength gains.
This steroid duo can rival any other when used for bulking purposes.
Dianabol, created by Dr. Ziegler, is less androgenic than testosterone but more anabolic.
Thus, we find androgenic side effects to be notably less on Dianabol; however, it has the edge over Testosterone for muscle and strength gains.
Testosterone and Dbol Side Effects
This stack will cause a wide range of side effects.
Dianabol, being an oral steroid, will cause liver toxicity; thus, it shouldn’t be taken for an extended period of time. Our patients often take a liver support supplement (such as tudca) to prevent ALT and AST enzymes from rising too high.
Although testosterone is relatively heart-friendly, Dianabol is not.
This is partly due to Dianabol being a potent oral steroid, which is notorious for worsening cholesterol levels as it stimulates hepatic lipase in the liver.
Testosterone and Dianabol are both estrogenic and ‘wet’ compounds; thus, gynecomastia should be classified as ‘high risk’. To prevent this, an effective SERM should be taken (Nolvadex) throughout the whole cycle. However, a SERM won’t prevent any fluid retention.
Water retention is almost certain with this duo, causing users to feel bloated and their muscles to look smooth. Therefore, we find this cycle is best taken in the off-season when a person is optimizing for mass instead of aesthetics.
Testosterone levels are likely to shut down post-cycle, so an aggressive post-cycle therapy protocol is needed. HCG and Clomid should be sufficient to recover endogenous testosterone production (usually within 1-2 months). Failing to administer a PCT may result in users experiencing low testosterone symptoms for several months.
Although Dianabol isn’t exceptionally androgenic, acne and an enlarged prostate are possible side effects due to the presence of testosterone.
Testosterone and Deca Durabolin Cycle
When stacking steroids together, side effects can dramatically worsen.
Testosterone and Deca Durabolin are the exception to this rule, with both compounds not affecting the liver and only having modest impacts on cholesterol in our LPTs (lipid profile tests).
Thus, if testosterone is the safest steroid you can take, testosterone and Deca may be the safest cycle.
Deca is another bulking steroid that will enhance muscle and strength gains.
Deca isn’t as powerful as testosterone, so increases in muscle hypertrophy aren’t going to be extreme. However, due to Deca’s mild toxicity, it makes for a great stacking component.
Testosterone and Deca Side Effects
However, Deca Durabolin isn’t without side effects, with it being notorious for causing ‘Deca dick’. This is when users are unable to get an erection and simultaneously experience reduced libido. We have found this to be attributed to Deca’s low androgenicity, coupled with its lowering of endogenous testosterone production. DHT stimulates nitric oxide production, so weak androgens can negatively affect blood flow to the penis.
This makes testosterone a complimentary stacking partner, with it being an androgenic steroid, so DHT levels will remain high during a cycle.
Deca also works well with Testosterone because it requires a lengthy cycle and is also a slow-acting steroid.
Thus, if you were to stack Deca with Anadrol, for example, it’s not an ideal combination because Anadrol cannot be run for long periods of time due to its high toxicity. However, testosterone can be taken for lengthy periods of time.
There is an additional risk of gynecomastia when taking Deca due to its moderate progesterone activity.
Deca does not cause gynecomastia in most users. However, anecdotally, we have seen SERMs such as Nolvadex exacerbate progesterone levels on Deca. Therefore, an AI may be taken (such as anastrozole) to lower levels. However, AIs can worsen blood pressure levels, so our patients only take them if the nipples start to become swollen.
Testosterone suppression is likely to be dramatic post-cycle. Thus, a PCT involving hCG, Nolvadex, and Clomid can be taken together to resurrect natural testosterone production.
Testosterone and Trenbolone Cycles
This is a powerful bulking stack that always produces huge increases in lean muscle and strength. Trenbolone is a very unique bulking steroid in the sense that it doesn’t aromatize, producing a ripped and jacked look.
Testosterone/Trenbolone will produce similar size gains as the Testosterone/Dianabol cycle, but without the additional water retention.
Trenbolone actually has diuretic properties, hence why it’s also used as a cutting agent. Trenbolone is the most coveted steroid on the market when people want to look as jacked as possible while also appearing dry and vascular.
The unique element of this stack is that it’s very androgenic, so there will be considerable fat loss as well as exceptional strength and muscle gains.
This fat-burning effect is due to androgen receptors increasing the expression of CPTI (carnitine palmitoyltransferase I), consequently decreasing fat mass (2).
Test and Tren Side Effects
Trenbolone, like Testosterone, is injectable; thus, there are no damaging effects on the liver with this cycle.
The biggest concern we see with the addition of Trenbolone is a spike in blood pressure. This is because it doesn’t convert to estrogen and thus can skew cholesterol ratios. Taking 4 grams of fish oil per day has helped some of our patients stabilize their BP (3).
Trenbolone, like Deca Durabolin, offers moderate progesterone activity, having the potential to cause gynecomastia. Thus, users may want to avoid using SERMs to prevent aggravating progesterone levels.
AI’s may be used instead to prevent gyno, offering protection from both estrogen and progesterone. However, as previously mentioned, AIs can worsen blood pressure. Thus, they should only be incorporated if users start to observe very early signs of gyno (swelling of the nipples).
Popular AI’s are:
- Anastrozole (Arimidex)
- Exemestane (Aromasin)
- Letrozole (Femara)
Hair loss on the scalp, enlarged prostate, and acne vulgaris are common side effects we see with Test/Tren stacks. This is due to it being a highly androgenic cycle. The extent of these adverse effects is dependent on a person’s genetics. Generally, if you experienced acne during puberty or currently have a receding hairline, this cycle may aggravate either or both.
Those wanting to protect their hair follicles may take DHT-blocking supplements. However, this isn’t a good idea, as we have found such supplements reduce gains, with DHT being a highly anabolic hormone (4).
An aggressive PCT of hCG, Nolvadex, and Clomid will also be required on this Test/Tren cycle to prevent an almost certain crash (and to help solidify gains).
The above cycle is tailored for intermediate steroid users utilizing moderate dosages. Instead, a novice may want to run a 6-7-week cycle with lower dosages, being 350 mg/week for testosterone and 15 mg/day of Anavar for the first 3 weeks, followed by 20 mg/day for the last 3 weeks.
Anavar (Oxandrolone) is an oral anabolic steroid, regarded as one of the safest anabolic steroids on the market (alongside testosterone).
Anavar is generally viewed as a cutting steroid due to its powerful fat-burning effects. This is due to Anavar’s ability to increase the ratio of T3 to T4 in the body (5), stimulating metabolism and fat loss.
Anavar is also anabolic, producing notable muscle and strength gains. However, such benefits are relatively mild compared to powerful bulking steroids (such as testosterone), in our experience.
Mg for mg, Anavar is technically 6x more anabolic than Testosterone (6); however, in real life, this doesn’t translate into more muscle gains.
Therefore, this cycle can be used as a fat-burning cycle while adding some lean mass (when dieting on restricted calories).
Testosterone’s androgenic effects can complement the fat-burning effects of Anavar, albeit with some temporary water retention.
We have seen Anavar/Testosterone cycles add significant amounts of lean mass when bulking while simultaneously keeping fat gains at bay.
This is one of, if not the safest, steroid stacks that bodybuilders can take.
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Anavar will worsen testosterone suppression post-cycle, requiring a more advanced PCT compared to a test-only cycle. However, our testing shows that Anavar’s antagonist effects on testosterone are mild compared to other anabolic steroids.
Anavar does not aromatize or elevate progesterone levels. Thus, users will not experience any additional water retention or gynecomastia compared to a test-only cycle.
We typically see Anavar shift cholesterol levels, reducing HDL and increasing LDL; therefore, a modest increase in blood pressure should be expected (7).
Despite being an oral steroid, Anavar doesn’t pose much risk to the liver, as it is metabolized differently (with the kidneys taking on more of the workload).
Androgenic side effects are possible on Anavar; however, they’ll already exist due to the presence of Testosterone.
Testosterone and Anadrol Cycle
This is a very powerful bulking cycle, often used in the off-season; it is similar to a Testosterone/Dianabol stack.
If someone has taken testosterone before but not Anadrol; this cycle will take gains to a whole new level, causing the muscles to blow up and strength to go through the roof.
However, Anadrol is a very toxic oral steroid, straining the liver and the heart, possibly the most toxic of all anabolic steroids. Therefore, although gains will be exceptional in terms of muscle size and strength, side effects will also be intense.
Note: We have seen this cycle (and other Anadrol cycles) cause devastating effects in beginners. Thus, only experienced steroid users should stack Anadrol with other AAS.
Testosterone and Anadrol Side Effects
Anadrol will cause AST and ALT enzymes to shoot up quickly, both of which are markers of liver stress. Thus, liver support is essential if you’re going to run this cycle.
Tudca is the most effective supplement in our experience for lowering hepatotoxicity.
Blood pressure is our biggest concern with Anadrol, as it stimulates hepatic lipase and causes the body to retain large amounts of excess fluid.
To try and keep blood pressure as low as possible, users are recommended to take 4 grams of fish oil per day, combined with clean eating and regular cardio. Although cardio may be the last thing a bodybuilder wants to do when bulking, it’ll protect your heart, which you’ll be grateful for in years to come.
Anadrol is very estrogenic, causing significant amounts of water retention and potential gynecomastia in users. However, it doesn’t aromatize, so taking an aromatase inhibitor (AI) won’t work to prevent gyno/water retention from Anadrol.
Instead, a SERM like Nolvadex can be used, helping to block estrogenic activity directly in the breast tissue (8). We have found this to be a preferable treatment, considering SERMs do not exacerbate high blood pressure (compared to AIs).
Anadrol is also androgenic, increasing the risk of prostate issues, hair loss (on the scalp), and acne.
The addition of Anadrol will shut down testosterone levels further, so users can continue running Nolvadex post-cycle, combined with Clomid and hCG, for a speedy recovery.
Testosterone / Anadrol / Trenbolone Cycle
The most extreme testosterone cycle we have seen is Anadrol/Tren/Test.
This trio of steroids should be considered somewhat dangerous, even for experienced bodybuilders, and should be used sparingly (if at all).
This will produce even harsher side effects than the Anadrol/Testosterone, albeit with more muscle gains.
Such a powerful cycle is only typically used by IFBB Pros, where every pound of muscle mass is crucial.
For such bodybuilders, their place in a competition can greatly affect their careers and sponsorship deals; thus, some are willing to trade their health for success.
Can I inject Testosterone Subcutaneously?
In our experience, testosterone is best injected intramuscularly, as sub-q injections can cause irritation spots as well as cause the oil to just sit, as it has to metabolize before it is absorbed.
Users may find injections less troublesome if they rotate the muscles they inject into. Some options are the chest, glutes, thigh, side delts, and trapezius. Also, if a user does not enjoy the injection process, they can choose a longer ester that requires fewer injections, such as cypionate and enanthate.
Reducing the needle gauge to 30 or 25 will also create a more pleasant and less painful injection experience.
Testosterone has muscle-building and fat-burning effects (9); however, because its anabolic effects are more potent, it’s often utilized in bulking cycles.
In terms of testosterone esters, there’s no need to inject anything other than Enanthate or Cypionate, as they’re cheap, less troublesome, and don’t need to be injected regularly.
A person’s experience, tolerance, and objectives will determine which cycle they use.
A testosterone-only cycle is ideal for beginners, whereas testosterone/anadrol may be suitable for an elite bodybuilder who can reasonably tolerate toxic compounds.
Equally, someone looking to keep their heart and liver in optimal condition may stack testosterone with Deca Durabolin or Anavar (staying away from Trenbolone and Anadrol).
No matter what cycle is used, a person’s body is going to transform dramatically on testosterone, with their muscles blowing up and becoming stronger than ever before.
Note: Before taking testosterone, get a check-up with your doctor to make sure your heart and liver are in good condition, and continue to get checked over regularly throughout your cycle to minimize any damage.
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