The perpetual cycle: Is traditional post-cycle therapy a dying breed?- By Mike Arnold | Uncle Z Blog
Great Write Up by Mike Arnold!
Part 1: The Dilemma
We now live in a day and age where the knowledge of performance enhancing drugs is increasing rapidly. No longer are we restricted to basic and infrequently supplied information from a limited number of sources. Every facet of BB’ing is evolving quickly and nowhere is this more apparent than in the area of bodybuilding pharmacology. It is little wonder then that the traditional approach to PCT is no longer viewed as optimal?
With recent advances in non-steroidal performance enhancers, our current approach to post-cycle therapy is becoming outdated. Prior to the indoctrination of PCT into the cycles of today’s bodybuilders, our original brothers in iron were left on their own when it came to restoration of the H.P.T.A. after a cycle of anabolic steroids. There were no drugs back then which BB’rs used to help bridge the gap between hormonal deficiency and normalcy. This less than desirable state necessitated lengthy off-time between cycles and in the interim, a BB’r could do nothing but watch as his months of hard-earned muscle gains withered away.
Fortunately, this situation was remedied as the introduction of PCT drugs began to make their way into the BB’ing community. This dramatically changed the cycling mentality of BB’rs, as it not only greatly assisted in gains maintenance, but also allowed them to reduce off-time in-between cycles, ultimately leading to more rapid progress. For reasons stated and un-stated, the arrival of PCT drugs was great boon for today’s bodybuilders.
It has now been a few years since these PCT drugs made their way onto the BB’ing landscape and much has changed since then. While the current trend in PCT has been immensely helpful, it is far from ideal. Up until now, the primary focus of PCT has been on restoration of the H.P.T.A. While this is an integral and vital piece of the puzzle, it is only one part of a more comprehensive whole. Anyone who has been in this game long enough understands the importance of normalizing testosterone levels as quickly as possible upon discontinuation of AAS, but regardless of how quickly we are able to normalize our endogenous testosterone production, we are still left with a sub-par anabolic environment…one which is not suitable for maintaining a steroid induced level of muscle mass.
The anabolic environment of our body is the #1 most important factor for maintaining/building muscle tissue. A cardinal rule of BB’ing states that we are only able to maintain/build as much muscle tissue as our anabolic environment allows. Any time our anabolic environment is altered, our potential to maintain/build muscle tissue is altered along with it. This point is clearly illustrated when we see a steroid using BB’r surpass his natural limit of muscular size while on-cycle, only to revert right back to his previous level of size upon discontinuance of AAS. Inevitably, any steroid using BB’r who surpasses a level of muscular development which his natural anabolic environment is incapable of supporting on its own, will not be able to maintain that steroid-built muscle tissue once that extra anabolic support is removed. The BB’r loses muscle tissue post-cycle simply because his natural anabolic environment (which is made up of many factors; testosterone being only one of them) is not capable of supporting the same amount of muscle tissue as his steroid induced one. If we ever hope to maintain an un-natural level of muscle tissue post-cycle, we need to find ways of enhancing our anabolic environment sufficiently enough to accomplish this goal. In reality, this is the desire of all cycling steroid users. No one wants to lose muscle mass when going off steroids and in the next part of this article I will tell you how to move one step closer to keeping your hard-earned muscle tissue intact.
Part 2: The solution.
The goal of any serious BB’r is progress and nothing hurts progress more than going backwards. Sadly, this experience is all too real for BB’rs who cycle their AAS, but with intelligent planning, we can now minimize, prevent, and in some cases even build muscle tissue when we come off AAS. The solution comes from looking at cycling from a new perspective and by implementing the most effective drugs BB’ing pharmacology has to offer.
Before I go any farther, let’s talk about the idea of cycling and what a BB’rs typically thinks of when he hears the word “cycle”. In most cases, “cycling” refers to a pattern of AAS usage in which an individual utilizes AAS for a pre-determined period of time, which is then followed by a set period of time off AAS. This cycling pattern is generally repeated for as long as the AAS user sees fit, but does a “cycle” have to involve the use of steroids the entire time the individual is “ON”, or can it involve any anabolic substance which contributes to our goals of enhanced muscle mass & strength?
It is with this idea in mind that we will look at how we might create a “perpetual anabolic cycle”, which not only accomplishes the usual goal of increased muscle mass & strength, but also allows one to achieve secondary goals (such as recovery of the H.P.T.A. and other bodily systems) at the same time.
This perpetual cycle can be designed a number of different ways, but for the sake of simplicity, let us stick with traditional guidelines as much as possible. So, in putting together this perpetual cycle, one would ideally begin the 1st part of cycle with AAS. However, in the 2nd part of the cycle, AAS are switched out for non-steroidal anabolic compounds that will not result in suppression to the H.P.T.A, while also allowing for recovery of the liver, cardiovascular system, reproductive system, prostate, kidneys, etc. A cycle composed in this manner would allow one to perpetually stay “on-cycle”, while still experiencing all the benefits a traditional PCT has to offer. This outcome is unique in the sense that neither those individuals who adhere to traditional “cruising” guidelines, nor those who engage in traditional PCT, are able to realize both muscle growth/maintenance and recovery simultaneously, all year long.
Part 3: The weapons of choice
Ok, now let’s answer the question that most of you have been asking, which is: “ What are the BB’ing drugs which can be used to gain muscle without HPTA suppression, nor result in liver, cardiovascular, kidney, prostate, or reproductive stress/harm?” Well, let’s look at several of the new(er) and more effective compounds available today, which are a perfect fit for the non-AAS portion of the perpetual cycle. Each one will be followed by a brief description:
- MK-2866 (Ostarine): This novel compound is what’s known as a S.A.R.M. (selective androgen receptor modulator). Ostarine is a 2nd generation S.A.R.M. which has been shown to exhibit significant anabolic activity at the AR without any significant suppression of the HPTA (at normal dosages), and which is also completely devoid of the typical estrogenic, androgenic or progestagenic side effects associated with AAS. This makes Ostarine a perfect candidate for use in the non-steroidal portion of a perpetual cycle.
In the real world, user feedback is very impressive in terms of its ability to help maintain/build muscle tissue after cessation of AAS. Additionally, users report a decrease in BF%, as well as improved muscular pumps during training.
- IGF-1 LR3: This IGF-1 based peptide has a proven track record of effectiveness in the real world when it comes to both muscle growth and body fat reduction. While IGF-1 LR3 can be implemented either ON or OFF cycle, its application in this instance would be for use in the recover portion of the cycle. Additionally, IGF-1 LR3 is known to improve overall muscle fullness and pumps during training, which is largely due to its insulin-like nutrient shuttling effect.
- DES (1-3) IGF-1: This variant of IGF-1 is 10X as anabolic as regular IGF-1. It shines in the area of site enhancement, but will still provide systematic effects, such as fat-loss and improved muscle growth. This peptide is well known for the impressive local pumps it causes during training and like IGF-1 LR3, has potent nutrient-shuttling effects.
- PEG MGF: This peptide is the long acting version of MGF and provides both local and systematic effects. Non-pegylated MGF is naturally produced in muscle tissue in response to training, but has a very short half-life, which is only minutes in length. The PEG form of MGF is identical in effect to regular MGF, but has a much longer half-life of about 24 hours. This peptide also results in a synergistic effect when combined with any type of IGF-1, leading to significant improvements in muscle size and fat-loss.
- GH/GH peptides: GH/GH peptides are an effective addition to one’s cycle in terms of both muscle growth and fat loss. GH/GH peptides cause an elevation in systematic IGF-1 levels through conversion to IGF-1 in the liver. Additionally, the GH molecule itself displays potent lipolytic effects, which will greatly assisting the user in staying lean.
- Insulin: This peptide is one of the most anabolic compounds on Earth and when used in conjunction with GH, the user can expect to experience significant and rapid increases in muscle fullness, pumps, size, strength, recovery, and even fat loss. The synergistic effect between these 2 peptides is well-documented and has been a staple in many serious BB’rs programs for many years.
- Follistatin: This complex protein is a very effective adjunct for rapid increases in muscle mass. Follistatin works by effectively suppressing myostatin in the body. Real world experience has repeatedly shown increases in bodyweight of between 5-10 lbs within 10-14 days.
- ACVR2B: This protein is another effective myostatin inhibitor which works through a different pathway than Follistatin. When used together, the combination of Follistatin & ACVR2B provides a potent synergistic effect, delivering greater gains than if either one was used alone.
While there are several other noteworthy compounds which could potentially be utilized with good effect in the 2nd phase of the perpetual cycle, I have chosen to list only the most effective for this purpose. It should also be mentioned that there are numerous effective OTC supplements available for purchase, which have been clinically demonstrated to exhibit impressive muscle enhancing effects in the body. With most of these supplements being priced relatively inexpensively, their role should not be overlooked as part of a comprehensive program.
Part 4: Plan of action
The basic format of the perpetual cycle is explained below, which is followed by an example of how one might choose to implement these compounds into their own personal cycle. Financial resources, as well as personal preference, will determine an individual’s ideal cycle set-up.
- Phase #1: Phase one involves the administration of AAS in whatever manner deemed most suitable to the user. There is no need to give an example cycle in this instance, as most of us are adequately familiar with AAS cycle set-up and how to use these drugs in accordance with our goals.
- Phase #2: Phase #2 involves the concomitant administration of both PCT drugs and non-steroidal anabolics designed to maintain/increase muscle mass in the absence of AAS. During this phase, the individual will undergo a comprehensive recovery of all bodily systems which were adversely affected by AAS, such as the HPTA, liver, kidneys, prostate, reproductive system, and cardiovascular system (blood pressure & lipid profile).
How long an individual remains within Phase #2 is dependent on the length of time it takes
the aforementioned systems to recover. Once a sufficient recovery has been made, the user
can resume Phase #1 at their leisure, if desired.
Weeks 1-16 (phase #1)
AAS….along with anything else the user deems appropriate.
Clomid @ 50-100 mg daily and/or Nolvadex @ 20-40 mg daily.
Aromasin @ 10-20 mg daily.
Ostarine @ 25 mg daily.
IGF-1 LR3 @ 50-100 mcg 5X/week.
PEG MFG @ 200 mcg 2X/week (Use MGF on different days from IGF-1 LE3).
Follistatin @ 50-100 mcg/day (it is unlikely Folli would be run the entire length of Phase #2, due to cost).
GH @ 5-10 IU/day.
Insulin @ 10-30 IU/day.
Repeat Phase #1.
In conclusion, what we have here is simply a different method of staying “ON”, which permits an individual who has discontinued AAS to prevent/minimize gains loss…or possibly continue making gains (depending in his level of development), while restoring the HPTA and other bodily systems at the same time.
For those who have gone far beyond their natural limit of muscle growth and require large dosages of AAS in order to make gains, then the likely outcome will either be a prevention or minimization of gains loss during Phase #2. However, for those individuals using low-moderate doses of AAS, it is easily conceivable that such as individual could continue making gains during Phase #2 with a well panned set-up.
In days past, for many of us, PCT was sure to result in a substantial loss of gains, but with recent advances in BB’ing pharmacology, we no longer have to accept such unfortunate circumstances.