Top 7 Testosterone Cycles: The Ultimate Guide
Disclaimer: The following article is for educational purposes only and NOT to promote the use of illegal steroids. If you have any questions or concerns, Dr. Touliatos is currently available for consultations.
In 1935, testosterone became the first ever anabolic steroid — being extracted from a bull’s testicles.
Test later came to market in the 50’s, via the pharmaceutical company Upjohn.
People often assume that as time passes by, as technology and knowledge evolves, “supplements” also follow suit.
However, this isn’t the case — with testosterone still being one of the best steroids on the market today.
Testosterone’s risk vs reward ratio is arguably the greatest out of all anabolic steroids; which is why doctors are happy to issue TRT prescriptions to hundreds of thousands of men worldwide.
Test is the number one steroid used in beginner cycles, whilst also acting as a base in more advanced cycles.
As a result of the steroids popularity, Upjohn is still manufacturing testosterone today, almost a century later (under a different name of Pharmacia & Upjohn).
Testosterone was also a popular steroid during the golden era of bodybuilding — helping to produce physiques that not only are 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 Cycle
- 9 Testosterone and Anavar Cycle
- 10 Testosterone and Anadrol Cycle
- 11 Testosterone / Anadrol / Trenbolone Cycle
- 12 Summary
Different Types of Testosterone
The 4 most popular esters of test 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.
Test 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.
These injections can also be painful or irritate the site, due to suspension requiring a bigger needle (due to its larger, non-micronized crystals).
Testosterone propionate is another fast-acting ester, albeit slower than suspension. This ester is less popular due to its high cost. Some bodybuilders think propionate is cheap because its price is lower, however propionate is dosed at 100mg/ml — instead of 250mg/ml (the usual test dosage).
Thus, you’ll need to pay 2.5x this price to run a standard testosterone cycle. Test propionate eventually works out to being 50% higher in cost, compared to other esters.
Also because propionate’s injections are known to be painful, many bodybuilders opt for a different ester.
Testosterone Enanthate & Cypionate
Enanthate and cypionate 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 can experience the same gains at the end of a cycle compared to the faster esters.
Since testosterone cypionate arrived onto the scene, it’s been considerably more popular than enanthate in the US — due to its limited availability worldwide, consequently becoming a native favourite.
Furthermore, cypionate injections may provide less irritation than enanthate in 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 20lbs of lean mass.
Strength increases of 30-50lbs are common on compound lifts, with users effortlessly smashing through PR’s.
Muscle pumps will also be cosmic, due to large amounts of intracellular fluid filling the muscle cells.
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Testosterone Side Effects
Testosterone has one of the best safety profiles vs any other steroid.
With testosterone being an injectable, it enters the blood stream immediately; thus providing no obvious strain to the liver. One study administering 400mg of oral testosterone per day for 20 days, experienced no adverse effects in liver enzymes (1).
Testosterone in low to moderate doses only causes a mild spike in LDL cholesterol values, causing a subtle rise in blood pressure. Other steroids can 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. The Soviets on testosterone was the earliest form of steroid doping — which gave them a unique advantage (at the expense of an enlarged prostate).
Oily skin, acne, thinning of hair on the scalp are other possible androgenic side effects on test. An increase in body or facial hair is also common.
Gynecomastia is a possibility in genetically sensitive users, due to testosterone aromatizing — and therefore being an estrogenic compound. Water retention is also to be expected.
Today, bodybuilders are aware of this effect and take a SERM, such as Nolvadex to prevent any potential expansion of the breast tissue. Nolvadex blocks estrogen specifically in the mammary glands, whilst keeping estrogen levels circulating throughout the body. This significantly reduces the risk of gyno, without totally blocking estrogen at a cellular level (thus keeping HDL cholesterol and serotonin levels optimal).
Testosterone will suppress endogenous testosterone production post-cycle, causing a crash on a hormonal level. It may take 1-4 months for natural testosterone levels to recover, depending on the dose, length of cycle and how often the person uses steroids. A PCT is often utilized by bodybuilders 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-dosed testosterone cycle for the first time. Users will lose fat and gain significant amounts of muscle (roughly 20lbs).
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 cycle — users can continue adding muscle and strength.
A further 10lbs 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 well as water retention/the risk of gyno etc.
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Testosterone and Dianabol Cycle
This is a common bulking cycle, which 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 — when used for bulking purposes.
Dianabol, created by Dr Ziegler, is less androgenic than testosterone — but more anabolic.
Thus, androgenic side effects are significantly less on dianabol — however it has the edge over test for muscle/strength gains.
Test & 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. Users may want to take a liver support supplement (such as TUDCA) to prevent ALT and AST enzymes rising too high.
Although testosterone is relatively heart-friendly — dianabol is not.
This is partly due to dianabol being a potent oral steroid, which are notorious for worsening cholesterol levels, as they stimulate hepatic lipase in the liver.
Test and dianabol are both estrogenic and ‘wet’ compounds, thus gynecomastia should be classed 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, causing users to feel bloated and muscles to look smooth. Therefore this cycle is best taken in the off-season, when a person is optimizing for ‘massthetics‘ — instead of aesthetics.
Testosterone levels are likely to shut down post-cycle, thus an aggressive post cycle therapy is needed. HCG and clomid should be suffice in recovering endogenous test 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 possibly 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 is the exception to this rule, with both compounds not affecting the liver; and only having modest impacts of cholesterol.
Thus, if testosterone is the safest steroid you can take — test 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 test, thus increases in muscle hypertrophy aren’t going to be extreme. However, due to deca’s mild toxicity — it makes for a great stacking component.
Test & 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. Part of the reason for this may be attributed to deca’s low androgenicity, coupled with it lowering endogenous testosterone production. This is because it’s believed DHT is responsible for nitric oxide stimulation, which can affect blood flow to the penis.
This makes testosterone a complimentary stacking partner — with it being an androgenic steroid, thus DHT levels will remain high during a cycle.
Deca also works well with testosterone, because it requires a lengthy cycle; with it being a slow-acting steroid.
Thus, if you were to stack deca with anadrol for example — it’s not a good 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 a an additional risk of gyno when taking deca, due to it having moderate progesterone activity.
Although this shouldn’t cause users to be alarmed — they should re-think their estrogen support supplements, as SERMs (such as Nolvadex) may exacerbate progesterone levels. Therefore, an AI may be taken such as anastrozole to block the conversion of testosterone into estrogen. However, this may worsen blood pressure levels; and so it could be a good idea to only take such supplements if the nipples start to become swollen.
However, some users can take this cycle and not develop any gyno (without estrogen support).
Testosterone suppression is likely to be dramatic post-cycle. Thus, a PCT involving: hCG, Nolvadex and Clomid may be taken together to resurrect natural T production.
Testosterone and Trenbolone Cycle
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 how it’s also used as a cutting agent. Tren is the most coveted steroid on the market when people want to look as jacked as possible — whilst also appearing dry and vascular.
The unique element with this stack is that it’s very androgenic, thus there will be considerable fat loss; as well as exceptional strength/muscle gains.
This fat burning effect is due to androgen receptors increasing the expression of CPTI (carnitine palmitoyltransferase I) — consequently decreasing fat mass (1).
Test & Tren Side Effects
Trenbolone, like test, is an injectable — thus there’s no damaging effects to the liver with this cycle.
The biggest concern with the addition of trenbolone is a spike in blood pressure, as it doesn’t convert to estrogen and can skew cholesterol ratios. Users may supplement with 4g of fish oil per day, which may help to stabilize BP (2).
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, AI’s 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, an enlarged prostate and acne are all possible on test/tren; due to it being a highly androgenic cycle. The extent of these adverse effects are dependent on a person’s genetics. Generally, if you experienced acne during puberty or currently have a receding hair line — 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 such supplements may result in less gains; with DHT being a highly anabolic hormone (3).
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-uses utilizing moderate dosages. Instead, a novice may want to run a 6-7 week cycle with lower dosages — being 350mg for test and 15mg/day of anavar for the first 3 weeks, followed by 20mg/day for the last 3 weeks.
Anavar (oxandrolone) is an oral, 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 (4), stimulating the metabolism and fat loss.
Anavar is also anabolic, producing notable muscle and strength gains, however these are relatively mild compared to powerful bulking steroids (such as test).
Mg for mg, anavar is technically 6x more anabolic than testosterone (5), however in real life this doesn’t translate into more muscle gains.
Therefore, this cycle can be used as a fat burning cycle, whilst adding some lean mass (when dieting on restrcited calories).
Testosterone’s androgenic effects can compliment the fat burning effects of anavar, albeit with some temporary water retention.
This anavar/testosterone cycle can also add significant amounts of lean mass when bulking; whilst simultaneously keeping fat gains at bay.
This is one of, if not the safest steroid stack, 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, it’s worth noting that anavar’s antagonist effects on test production are mild compared to other compounds.
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.
Anavar will shift cholesterol levels, reducing HDL and increasing LDL, therefore a modest increase in blood pressure is to be expected.
Despite being an oral steroid, anavar doesn’t pose much risk to the liver, as it is metabolized differently (with the kidneys taking some of the work-load).
Androgenic side effects are possible on anavar, however they’ll already be existing due to the presence of testosterone.
Testosterone and Anadrol Cycle
This is a very powerful bulking cycle, often used in the off-season; 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 out of all anabolic steroids. Therefore, although gains will be exceptional in terms of muscle size and strength; side effects will also be intense.
Note: This cycle (or any anadrol cycle) is not for beginners — experienced steroid-users only.
Test & Anadrol Side Effects
Anadrol will cause AST and ALT enzymes to shoot up quickly — both being markers of liver stress. Thus, liver support is essential if you’re going to run this cycle, with TUDCA being the most favoured supplement.
Blood pressure is the biggest concern when taking anadrol — with it stimulating hepatic lipase and causing the body to retain large amounts of excess fluid.
To try and keep blood pressure as low as possible, users are recommended to take 4g 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, thus 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. This is a preferred method considering SERMs won’t exacerbate high blood pressure (compared to AI’s).
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, thus 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 bodybuilders can take today 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 Pro’s, where every pound of muscle mass is crucial.
For such bodybuilders, where they place in a competition can greatly affect their careers/sponsorship deals, thus some are willing to trade their health for success.
Testosterone has muscle-building and fat burning effects, 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 perfect 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.