Winstrol Benefits Vs Side Effects (Worth the Risk?)

Dr George TouliatosDisclaimer: 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.


Winstrol (Stanozolol) has been one of the most popular anabolic steroids in bodybuilding since it came to market in 1962.

In medicine, Winstrol was initially prescribed as an appetite stimulant and mass-building agent for patients suffering from malignant and non-malignant diseases, osteoporosis and trauma.

It was later given to the elderly to reduce debility and to those suffering from dwarfism, due to its stimulatory effect on the pituitary gland.

However, during the 1970s, Winstrol’s side effects became better known, with it consequently being prescribed for fewer diseases/illnesses.

Winstrol is now classed as a controlled substance and thus is illegal to use for bodybuilding purposes.

However, it remains an FDA-approved medicine for the treatment of hereditary angioedema (1), due to its ability to increase  C1 esterase inhibitor (C1INH) and C4 proteins (2). Patients however are placed on the lowest possible effective dose; indicative of Winstrol’s toxic nature.

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Winstrol Benefits

Muscle Gain

Although Winstrol is predominantly used as a cutting agent, its anabolic effects and ability to add lean mass should not be underestimated.

It is common for users to build 10-15lbs of muscle when first cycling Winstrol, even if they’re in a calorie deficit.

This potent form of exogenous testosterone helps users defy the bulking/cutting cycle strategy; by building muscle and burning fat at the same time.

Thus, some users may not use Winstrol for cutting, but for a moderate lean bulking cycle. Therefore, if someone does not want to add excessive amounts of hypertrophy — Winstrol may be utilized instead of bulking steroids, like Dianabol, Anadrol or Testosterone.

Fat Loss

The main benefit of Winstrol is subcutaneous fat loss, hence how it is a popular cutting steroid. Winstrol also causes water loss (as it doesn’t aromatize), thus having a drying out/diuretic effect.

Fat loss and reductions in extracellular fluid both will promote a more vascular and defined physique.

How much fat a user loses will depend on their diet, training and dosage. However, someone regularly eating in a 500 calorie deficit and taking a moderate dosage of Winstrol (20mg/day) can expect to burn approximately 5-6% body fat from an 8-week cycle.

No Water Retention

Many anabolic steroids are estrogenic and are referred to as ‘wet’ compounds, due to the amount of water retention and bloating they cause. One unique benefit of Winstrol is that it has the opposite effect; producing a bigger, yet leaner and more aesthetic physique.

Many bodybuilders want to hide their torsos with t-shirts and jumpers when taking estrogenic bulking compounds, because of excessive water retention. However, Winstrol has a ‘photoshop’ effect, making users appear more ripped and vascular.

Enhances Endurance

Winstrol is one of the best steroids for muscular endurance, due to its stimulation of new red blood cells (erythrocytosis).

Erythrocytosis will occur with all anabolic steroids, but most will also cause dramatic weight gain and water retention.

Winstrol thus enables athletes to remain light and powerful, due to simultaneous muscle-building, fat loss and water loss.

Increases Strength

Winstrol significantly increases strength, due to greater levels of protein synthesis and nitrogen retention inside the muscle cells.

With Winstrol depleting intracellular water levels, it isn’t the most potent of AAS at enhancing strength. This is due to decreased levels of adenosine triphosphate production inside the muscle cells — a protein molecule crucial for energy.

Those who are relatively new to anabolic steroids can add 15-20lbs on their big compound lifts on Winstrol. This is a dramatic increase, considering most bodybuilders will be in a calorie deficit when taking this steroid; and thus are aiming to simply maintain their strength.

Note: The extent of Winstrol’s benefits will depend on the person’s genetics, dosage, cycle length, training and diet. For maximum fat loss, users should eat in a small calorie deficit (-500). For maximum muscle gain, users should weight train 4-5x per week. For maximum results bodybuilders will utilize a dosage of 25mg/day for 6 weeks. Winstrol’s benefits will also amplify when stacked with other anabolic steroids.

Winstrol Side Effects

Liver Damage

Winstrol is one of the most hepatotoxic anabolic steroids, due to it being an oral and therefore c-17 alpha-alkylated. Thus, it must be processed by the liver before becoming active, causing additional workload to the organ.

In the short term, this can cause inflammation and ALT/AST enzymes to rise. However, in users with compromised liver function or those excessively using Winstrol — cirrhosis of the liver is possible.

Bodybuilders commonly take liver support supplements to reduce hepatic damage, such as  tauroursodeoxycholic acid (500mg/day) during their cycle. TUDCA is an FDA-approved treatment for various cholestatic liver diseases (3).

Cholesterol Alterations

Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol will rise significantly, with high-density lipoprotein (HDL) dropping; resulting in higher blood pressure and an increased risk of myocardial infarction.

This cardiovascular side effect is particularly notable on Winstrol, due to it being an oral steroid, and thus hepatic lipase being stimulated in the liver; which can cause further reductions in HDL cholesterol.

Furthermore, a lack of estrogenic conversion can exacerbate blood pressure, with estrogen having a positive effect on cholesterol.

Bodybuilders often supplement with fish oil (4-5g/day) and implement regular cardiovascular exercise to prevent blood pressure levels from rising excessively. However, the risk of cardiac damage will often depend on the person’s genetics and if they are susceptible to heart disease.

Joint Pain

The advantage of water loss is a more ripped appearance, due to less extracellular fluid obscuring muscle definition.

However, the disadvantage to this diuretic effect is less cushion for joints, which can be painful — especially for older steroid users.

Winstrol, in this regard, is the opposite of Deca Durabolin — which can actually improve joint health, due to increased production of synovial fluid.

Thus, if someone is regularly using Winstrol for cutting; it may be beneficial to utilize Deca Durabolin in  off-season bulking stacks to protect their joints long-term.

Testosterone Suppression

Winstrol, like all anabolic steroids, causes damage to the hypothalamic-pituitary-testicular axis (HPTA); thus causing the shut down of endogenous testosterone. This is mostly a short-term side effect; however, due to the potency of Winstrol, low testosterone levels can be experienced for several weeks or months following cycle cessation.

Low testosterone can cause people to have less well-being, diminished sexual function and testicular atrophy.

Thus, bodybuilders commonly utilize a post cycle therapy (PCT) to accelerate the recovery of their testosterone production.

Common PCT medications effective in treating hypogonadism include: Nolvadex, Clomid and hCG.

Nolvadex or Clomid is sufficient for single-steroid cycles; however, all three can be utilized together if a potent stack has been taken. hCG is predominantly used for its ability to restore sperm reduction, rather than to recover endogenous testosterone by itself.

Acne

Winstrol is a DHT-derivative and thus has the potential to stimulate the sebaceous glands and block pores; due to excessive sebum production.

However, the androgenicity of Winstrol on paper is notably lower than other anabolic steroids, such as Dianabol and Testosterone; therefore this side effect is unlikely to be severe.

Hair Loss

DHT (dihydrotestosterone) levels will rise on Winstrol, accelerating thinning or recession of the hair on the scalp. Although bodybuilders predisposed to male pattern baldness may experience notable hair loss, this side effect is unlikely to be dramatic for most users; due to Winstrol’s mild level of androgenicity.

Finasteride and other medications commonly used to inhibit hair loss will be ineffective on Winstrol, as it’s not a substrate for the reductase enzyme. In short, Winstrol doesn’t convert testosterone to DHT, as Winstrol itself is already a derivative of DHT; thus blocking such a conversion is futile.

Virilization

Winstrol often causes masculinization in moderate dosages, due to a low affinity when binding to SHBG, and thus dramatically increasing free testosterone levels.

Therefore, Winstrol generally isn’t a suitable steroid for women — if they want to remain looking and sounding like a woman. The only exception to this is if very small dosages of Winstrol are taken. However, such a protocol is unlikely to surpass the results of taking more female-friendly steroids, such as Anavar.

Note: The extent of Winstrol’s side effects will depend on the person’s genetics, dosage, cycle length, training and diet. For decreased side effects, men shouldn’t take more than 25mg/day for longer than 6 weeks. Winstrol’s side effects will worsen if stacked with other anabolic steroids.

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FAQ

Oral Winstrol vs Injectable Winstrol

Oral Winstrol has a lower biological availability, due to passing through the liver and glucuronidation.

Thus, oral Winstrol is more easily broken down and cleared by the body; thus more regular dosing is needed to maintain peak serum testosterone.

Therefore, with injectable Winstrol, users are effectively taking a higher dosage; due to higher biological availability.

Hepatotoxicity is also reduced with injectable Winstrol, as it only strains the liver upon exit — rather than upon entry and exit. Thus, AST/ALT enzymes are likely to be reduced when injecting.

Equally, injectable Winstrol may also result in less cardiovascular risk, as hepatic lipase will not be stimulated and thus HDL cholesterol levels may not decline as significantly.

Thus, injectable Winstrol is a better option for many bodybuilders, as it essentially amplifies results without having to increase the dosage. Decreased hepatotoxicity is another notable benefit.

However, oral Winstrol is more convenient, especially as Winstrol injections can sometimes be painful.

Do Winstrol’s Benefits Outweigh the Side Effects?

For most people, Winstrol is perhaps an unnecessary steroid, as more mild compounds can be utilized (that are less hepatotoxic and cardiotoxic).

For example, Anavar can be taken when cutting; which essentially is a much safer compound that replicates many of Winstrol’s benefits.

Also, in terms of building lean muscle, there are various bulking steroids that are superior to Winstrol (in terms of effectiveness).

In terms of safety, Testosterone in the off-season would cause significantly less damage to the heart, as well as greater muscle hypertrophy and strength.

Furthermore, if someone wanted to take Winstrol purely for its benefits and had little interest in the severity of its side effects — Trenbolone is a more potent compound that produces better results (in terms of fat loss and muscle gain).

Can Winstrol Cause Gynecomastia?

Winstrol is unlikely to cause gynecomastia as it does not aromatize, or directly stimulate estrogen receptors.

However, in bodybuilding dosages, Winstrol can increase progesterone — a female sex hormone that can potentially cause gynecomastia.

Anti-estrogen medications actually have an inhibitory effect on progesterone and thus can be taken if nipples start to become puffy when on Winstrol. Letrozole (Femara) and Anastrozole (Arimidex) are a couple of examples that bodybuilders commonly take.

However, anti-estrogens should only be taken as a last resort — and if blood pressure isn’t overly high. This is because AEs further reduce HDL cholesterol, exacerbating blood pressure.

Note: If Winstrol is stacked with an estrogenic steroid, the risk of gynecomastia can increase.

Are Winstrol’s Benefits Permanent?

Muscle gains, strength and fat loss are permanent from a Winstrol cycle; however, should someone cease training; results can diminish.

However, due to steroids permanently altering myonuclei, when a person lifts weights again — muscle size and strength are restored.

Someone can even appear a little bigger and fuller after a Winstrol cycle, due to increased levels of intracellular fluid post-cycle (as Winstrol’s diuretic effects wear off).

Fat loss on Winstrol is also permanent; however, if a person overeats post-cycle, subcutaneous fat can accumulate (as normal).

How Quickly Does Winstrol Work?

How fast Winstrol works with peak serum testosterone levels, will depend on the method of administration.

Winstrol Depot (injectable) has a half-life of 24 hours and thus is slower-acting than oral Winstrol, which has a 9-hour half-life.

Thus, oral Winstrol is superior for faster results, which can be experienced in the first week of a cycle.

Injectable Winstrol can take a little longer to kick in, however due to its higher biological availability the results by the end of the cycle may be slightly more noticeable.

Summary

Winstrol’s benefits are certainly tempting for the bodybuilder looking to get ripped, whether for cosmetic or competitive purposes.

However, Winstrol’s side effects are enough to make someone think twice as to whether it is worth the hepatic and cardiac damage, in the quest for adding moderate amounts of muscle and fat.