Testosterone, as a natural product drug and one of the most widely used anabolic steroids, is the most practical choice for a benchmark drug against which all others will be compared. And while it's entirely possible to build maximally effective steroid cycles without using testosterone, most don't, but instead use testosterone as their base. Either approach can be quite valid.
As a bodybuilding drug, testosterone is almost always used as an injectable ester, due to poor oral bioavailability and the practical impossibility of high-dose transdermal or sublingual administration. Testosterone is also supplied as an injectable suspension. The discussion here is with reference to these injectable preparations.
Pharmacologically, testosterone acts both via the androgen receptor and through other means. In practice, it is found to combine synergistically with both Class I and Class II anabolic steroids, and is therefore described as having mixed activity.
Particular properties of testosterone that are noteworthy include the fact that it enzymatically converts to both dihydrotestosterone (DHT) and estradiol (the most important of the estrogens).
While with normal testosterone levels and normal enzyme activity these conversions are in fact desirable, with supraphysiological testosterone levels induced by drug administration they may be undesirable. DHT is at least three times more potent (effective per milligram) than testosterone at the androgen receptor (AR): therefore, in the tissues that convert testosterone to DHT, there are effectively three times more androgens than elsewhere in the body. the body. Thus, whatever level of androgen is felt by the muscle tissue, it is actually multiplied by three or more in the skin and in the prostate. It may be excessive.
Dutasteride (Avodart) can be used to keep DHT levels normalized despite high testosterone intake. Most users don't do this for the sake of excessive DHT reduction, which may be a valid concern for full dosing, but which I don't think is a problem with low dose use (½ tablet every other day) in the context of a high-dose testosterone cycle.
Finasteride (Proscar) can be used instead, if a 5alpha-reductase inhibitor is desired. In this case, as part of a high dose testosterone cycle, one tablet (5mg) of this drug per day is unlikely to decrease DHT excessively.
Excessive conversion to estrogen is another adverse event as it contributes to hypothalamic/pituitary/testicular axis (HPTA) inhibition, can cause or worsen gynecomastia, can cause bloating, and can lead to unfavorable fat pattern distribution.This conversion can be controlled by the use of aromatase inhibitors such as Arimidex or Letrozole, and/or the effects of excess estradiol can be blocked in affected tissues by Clomid or Nolvadex.
One of the most significant differences synthetic anabolic steroids have over testosterone is that they can avoid either or both of these enzymatic conversions. In the past, this was a very important advantage. However, now that these conversions can be well controlled, high dose testosterone need not have all the unwanted side effects that inevitably accompanied its use.
Testosterone used as the sole androgen is capable of very effective results, especially with doses of a gram or more per week, and can provide substantial results with just 500mg/week. If no other drugs are used to control estrogen, however, side effects such as gynecomastia are quite likely. Prostate enlargement, acne or acne worsening and accelerated male pattern baldness (for those genetically susceptible to it) are more of a problem with testosterone again, in the absence of enzyme control than with many synthetics due to the androgen levels actually seen in these tissues as a result of local conversion to the more potent DHT.
So to minimize these effects, the choices for a highly effective cycle that is low in side effects are to either control these enzymatic conversions with ancillary compounds while using high dose testosterone, instead use synthetics which do not undergo these conversions, or to combine testosterone in moderate doses (100-200 mg / week) with synthetics.
An anti-aromatase is preferable in a testosterone cycle to a Selective Estrogen Receptor Modulator (SERM) such as Clomid or Nolvadex to control estrogen because SERMs do nothing to reduce the effect of high estrogen in worsening or causing estrogen. acne, or contribute negatively themselves. In addition, abnormally high estrogen levels can be harmful for other reasons.
With respect to hypothalamic/pituitary/testicular axis (HPTA) inhibition, 200 mg/wk of injected testosterone is approximately 2/3 to 3./4 suppressive, while 100 mg/wk is approximately 50% suppressive. For this reason, the use of low dose testosterone is not particularly effective, as the natural production is already "worth" 100-200mg/week, and this is mostly lost with the first 200mg/week of injection that is used. Particular synthetics that are weakly suppressive are, for this reason, more effective for low dose use than testosterone.
In terms of planning HPTA recovery after a cycle, for the reason above there is little point in starting Post Cycle Therapy (PCT) until cycle testosterone levels have fallen to the extent of no use. not exceeding about 200 mg/week. So for example if you are using 800mg/week it would be advisable to wait two half-lives. (After a number of days equal to the half-life, the levels will drop to that level corresponding to 400mg/week use, and after that same number of days the levels will fall again by half, now to levels corresponding at 200 mg/week.For example, if the half-life of the ester used was 5 days, one would wait until 10 days after the last injection to start PCT, when the drug in question is testosterone, due to the peculiarities of its suppressive properties.
With the use of an anti-aromatase, 600-750 mg/week of injected testosterone is a good dosage range for a novice. Without anti-aromatase it may be best to limit use to 500mg/week, although there may be a risk of gynecomastia at doses even as low as 200mg/week if no anti-estrogen is used. More advanced users can favor one gram of testosterone per week. Even higher doses, such as 2 grams per week, usually provide only a small additional boost in performance, which is usually only noticeable if a plateau has been reached at 1 gram per week. Higher amounts than this are used by some professional bodybuilders, but probably with only a slight added effect.