Incorporating Short Steroid Cycles Into a Weight Training Program

Question: “I started with classical progressive weight training, trying to add a rep every week and then when getting to 12 reps, increase the weight and build up again. That got to where it just wasn’t happening that I could add reps. I moved to 5×5, adding weight each week, and same story. Training similarly every week isn’t working for me. What could you suggest to change it up week by week, working steroid cycles into it. I want to gain more size and gain strength efficiency, getting stronger for my size. I’m fine with doing numbers to plan, and using a training book.”

Answer: What you’ve found is just a basic truth.

Once past the easy gains, it’s not possible to add say 5 lb per week every week. If it were, then we’d have guys adding 260 lb every year to their bench, their overhead press, etc. Those who had been doing this for say 5 years would have added over 1000 lb.

Adding a rep every week can be an even harder challenge, as an added rep typically represents about 2-5% more strength.

As you put it, changing it up week by week can allow for progression which is indeed doable.

One approach is to see for each exercise what weight you can do for two sets of 9, and what weight you can do for two sets of 3. Now figure some modest increase such as 5% to that weight for 2 sets of 3.

As an example, let’s say that right now in a given exercise you can do 2×9 with 120 lb, and 2×3 with 170 lb. A 5% increase on that weight would bring it to 180 lb. The difference between that 180 lb and the 120 lb is 60 lb.

The next step is that there will be six increments of working out between starting at 9 reps and ending at 3 reps. So you divide that 60 lb by six, and come up with 10 lb increases.

So what you will do is start the training cycle with 2×9 at 100 lb and with each further week drop a rep and add 10 lb. You finish at 2×3 at 180 lb, which is a 10 lb improvement on your start.

Steroid use can start in the 6-rep week and end in the 4-rep week, which provides a 3-on /4-off pattern. A more conservative approach is to use in only the 6 and 5 rep weeks, providing a 2-on/5-off pattern. Each of these require having the mental confidence to do the 3-rep weeks unassisted. Another way is to start use in the 6-rep week and continue through the 3-rep week, but you should then add in two weeks of differing training before starting the next cycle. This method allows two fewer cycles per year, but can be comparable for results.

This is only one approach; there are many good ways. As a general guideline, for most programs of extended duration, the most efficient time to employ anabolic assistance is in the last third or the last half of the program, according to how aggressive you want to be with steroid use.