One of the reasons I really like this site is that there are some mature older guys, and younger guys, around here that seem to have a lot of this game figured out and for the better. Bouncing around the boards I see most of the younger guys never coming off for fear of losing their entire physique. After a year of constantly being on AAS the fear quickly turns to the rationalization that they are essentially unable to recover. Personally I think this is a fallacy and if you review the medical literature there is ample evidence that my suspicions are correct. In fact, and I have offered this up many times, most of the guys I knew from the 80s and 90s that cycled are fine today. Some of them are still in decent shape and some don't work out anymore but most of them have wife and kids and good jobs or careers.
Back then coming off was a taper and maybe some hCG and that was it. But I would say that 90% of the guys that used took time off. Maybe they didn’t do the mantra time on = time off but pretty much everyone took time off and that went from the average gym rat to National competitors. Everyone shrunk up and dealt with it. But you know after being off for a few months they/we would all start looking healthy again, the pumps would come back, and a lot of the strength and conditioning return as well. Plus a lot of us use to play pick-up basketball or were involved in other athletic activities outside the gym and that added a different kind or level of fitness outside of just pumping metal and some mild cardio. I feel those activities helped us recover as well.
Enter the late 90s and everyone had SERMs and hCG and the cessation of the AAS was not as hard a crash. Still there was some discomfort and a sort of sickly period but we all dealt with it. Over the last 10 years or so peptides and SARMs came on the scene and coming off really became a post cycle therapy type of chemistry experiment. Adding in a little GHRP to the hCG and SERMs made the coming off period even easier. Hell one could add lr3 IGF-1 and make it even easier. Of course this isn't really coming off enhancers any more since most guys will be on some kind of drug even when off AAS.
One thing remains fairly clear. Less than 1/2 the users out there today ever want to come off AAS and that is sort of sad for a number of reasons. Not least of these reasons is that coming off is easier than ever with all the choices of drugs and aids out there to ease the crash. In some ways it shows that some dread so much the loss of a little size that they are willing to increase the risk to health, seriously jeopardize their endocrine system, add many ancillaries to stabilize BP, heart rate and water retention etc. This is sad because if cycling is done with some level of responsibility one should be able to come off and within 6 months look and feel healthy and strong. Actually, to the general public, the athlete that is 6 months off AAS probably looks better to the public at large than when loaded to the gills at the peak of a cycle.
In my mind it should be pretty easy to come off unless you are someone that has a legitimate reason to be diagnosed as hypogonadal. Mostly it comes down to making the decision and sticking with it. If you are lethargic, have high red cells, high BP, poor lipid profile, sexual difficulties, cardiac arrhythmia, excessive shortness of breath and water retention then you should automatically be thinking that it's time for a break. Then it's really a matter of sticking with the decision for 3-6 months. With NO PCT drugs at all back in the 80s and after a good stint of 4 months or so most of us would taper down for 3-4 weeks and then go off. Believe it or not the taper made the crash less harsh no matter what the current wisdom dictates. Even so, and this happens with PCT drugs too, we would have a crash and life would be a little uncomfortable for 8 weeks. The second 8 weeks the gym wasn't quite such a disaster. The third 8 weeks and most of us started to make natural gains again. These are the three 8s of recovery, Simple Simon really. That's how it worked. It will likely work in that time frame for most. So by 6 months off most can expect to be feeling pretty good. Now of course there are exceptions. Some people don't recover as fast especially if they are not kind to their body. Harsh compounds and long long cycles make recovery more difficult and alcohol and street drugs make thing much worse. Sleep rest training and diet are just as important.
So what is a decent protocol to coming off? Well, there are a million decent ways to come off. a simple one starts at near the beginning of the on period. Use hCG at 250-500 IU every 2-4 days when on AAS. When coming off taper for a few weeks if you have been on for 16 weeks or more. Once off get off the hCG immediately and wait no longer than 2 weeks to start a SERM. It does not hurt anything to have a SERM building up as your esters run down. That just puts them in place at the exact moment they become useful. SERM therapy should continue for 4 weeks. If using GHRPs/GRFs stop them when the SERM therapy is finished and stay off them for at least 6 weeks to allow EVERYTHING to return to normal. Expect a crash. You will crash but you will start to recover in the next weeks and that will be felt in the gym as you begin to feel your pumps coming stronger and your strength returning. Keep protein high and adjust diet as needed. If you are older then it' may be desirable and maybe wise to start GHRP and or GRF therapy again at night time. This type of therapy is not very disruptive to the endocrine system and helps with arthritis, immune function and recovery whilst keeping GH and growth factors in normal range. If you are in your 20s or early 30s I don't feel this is necessary.
Be smart. Take your time off. In the end you might have periods where you are a little small, a little off and maybe insecure but in the long run you will be healthier for it. If you know what you have been doing after cycling for a few years you should be able to get right back to your peak after 8 weeks back on and with a good enhancement protocol I really think that a smart bodybuilder can apply a good protocol for 6 months of enhancers and continue to climb the hill. The 3 eights of the off period may actually set you up for better growth. As we all know, the rested well recovered body responds best.