Believe to Achieve
Jay Cutler's house
Hard and Heavy
How To Cycle Off From Steroids
by Pat Arnold
Heavy steroid using athletes, particularly weight lifters, bodybuilders, are subject to many adverse
consequences from continuous steroid use without a break. Adverse cardiovascular
effects, liver stress, HPTA down regulation, excessive virilization (women) and
psychological disturbances or dependency, are some of the major problems that
may develop in these individuals. Additionally, users may develop a tolerance
for anabolic steroids that can only be overcome by increasing the dosage or by
ceasing the use altogether. The latter, of course, is a much healthier course of
action than the former.
Coming off of steroids, particularly long-term usage, is certainly not easily
done without considerable loss of muscle mass. Additionally, there can be
psychological effects that include depression and loss of motivation. For many
athletes, especially those with schedules that do not allow prolonged periods
away from competition completely coming off of steroids is not considered an
option. However, if these athletes knew how to take the right approach they just
might be able to cycle off and have a good chance at maintaining much of their
physical condition. This could enable them to increase their ultimate potential
in their sports as well as their longevity in the competitive arena.
The off cycle regimen must consist of proper drug, nutritional, and training
protocols. The primary goals to achieve are the following:
Minimization of protein catabolism
Maintenance of muscle glycogen levels
Maintenance of high-normal red blood cell levels
Minimization of fat deposition
Avoidance of injury, or injury aggravation
Maintenance of healthy attitude and psychological state
This is an off steroids cycle and most certainly not an off drugs cycle. In fact, the proper use of non-steroidal drugs is the mainstay of this program and is vital to its success. I will describe the drugs to be used, why they are used, and how they should be used.
GH is probably the single most important drug to maintain muscle mass and
bodyweight off of steroids. While GH is not known to be great for anabolic
effects, it is very effective for anti-catabolism. Anti-catabolism, or
minimization of muscle mass loss, is after all what we are most interested in
here. GH has an overall anti-proteolytic effect on the body and shifts the
body�s metabolism away from the utilization of amino acids and glucose for
energy, and towards the use of fat. The end result will be a protective effect
upon muscle protein and glycogen, and a mobilizing effect upon body fat.
Many bodybuilders have discovered how wonderful GH, at the proper dosages, is in
maintaining their muscle mass off of steroids. Former IFBB pro Gary Strydom once
commented that he didn�t care if the IFBB tested for steroids, as long as they
didn�t test for GH.
Notice how I said �at the proper dosages�. That�s right, small dosages just
won�t cut it. For most people a minimum of 4 i.u. a day is required to impart a
proper metabolic response in the body. Some may go as high as 18 i.u. a day but
at this levels many problems can occur (i.e. edema, nerve impingement).
There probably is no great advantage to taking GH more than once a day, though
some may inject twice a day. GH primarily works through its conversion to IGF-1
and the half-life of IGF-1 in the body is plenty long (8-16 hours). So once a
day administration will be good enough to maintain pretty constant levels of
IGF-1 in the blood. Furthermore, evidence is also mounting that GH breaks down
to certain active peptide fragments with specific biological functions (i.e.
lipolysis) and that these have prolonged half lives. Therefore, the active
lifetime of the intact GH molecule itself in the blood might be pretty
GH is not cheap through most channels. However, good GH can be obtained from
Asia at a fraction of the cost (10 � 20%) that it is available elsewhere.
I think I should also mention now that there is a big misconception amongst
people as to what the shelf life of GH is, and that most people grossly
underestimate it. The Journal of Chemical Technology states that freeze dried GH
products (unreconstituted) are quite stable under refrigerated conditions, and a
24-month shelf-life is typical at this temperature. Also, although solutions of
GH at neutral pH readily deamidate (lose ammonia group from end of molecule),
and storage of the reconstituted product is limited to a few weeks under
refrigerated conditions, biological activity is relatively unaffected even after
prolonged storage. So the stuff really stays pretty active in the �frig for a
considerable time. By the way, reconstituted solutions of GH should NEVER be
frozen (this will be the death of it).
The use of insulin provides a couple of very important functions in the off
steroid period. First of all, it helps preserve glycogen storage in the muscle.
Steroids are very good at stimulating glycogen storage and this property likely
plays an integral part in their performance enhancing benefits. Going off of
steroids leads to a reversal of this and the result is muscular weakness,
fatigue, and loss of size and bodyweight. The proper use of insulin can help
Furthermore, insulin can help to minimize protein breakdown through its anti-proteolytic
effects. Insulin is quite potent in regards to its protective effect on muscle
protein, unfortunately it also is very potent in regards to its protective
effect on maintaining body fat. Insulin therefore has to be used in the proper
fashion to maximize the former, and minimize the latter.
The proper usage of insulin requires the fast acting insulin analog known as Lis-Pro
insulin, or Humalog�. This altered insulin product is available only by
prescription. It differs from other insulin in that it is absorbed quickly into
the body after subcutaneous injection. The average time to peak blood levels is
90 minutes and generally it is out of your system in 3 to 4 hours.
Humalog� is to be taken immediately after training. The physiology of the body
after intense training is such that the benefits of insulin can be maximized,
while drawbacks are minimized. Muscle insulin sensitivity as well as insulin
independent glucose uptake will peak in the 2-3 hours or so after training. In
this time, insulin will preferentially stimulate glucose uptake and glycogen
synthesis in muscle over fat. Additionally, high insulin levels at this time
will help to counteract the catabolic state that exists in muscles right after
they have been damaged by training. A discernible improvement in training
recovery (less soreness and injury pain) is often noticed by individuals who
utilize this technique.
Humalog� administration must be followed by intake of simple carbohydrates and
protein within 20 minutes. A general rule is one unit of Humalog� per ten
kilograms bodyweight, and ten grams of carbs and ten grams of protein per unit
of Humalog�. That sounds like a lot of carbs and protein but it must be
ingested. Whey protein is best, and glucose or maltodextrin can be used for the
carbs. 5 grams of creatine can also be added as well as well as 5-10 grams of
Erythropoietin (EPO) is a protein hormone secreted by the kidneys and liver that
stimulates red blood cell production (erythropoiesis). Red blood cells carry
oxygen to the tissues of the body and so obviously are vital to maximal health
and athletic performance.
When people take anabolic steroids, particularly some oral ones such as
Anadrol�, erythropoiesis is stimulated. The result is an increase in the
proportion of blood cells in the blood, also known as the hematocrit. This
increase in the hematocrit is partially responsible for the energizing and
recovery benefits of steroids. It may also contribute to the blood volume and
vascularizing effects of anabolics.
When you go off anabolics, the increase in hematocrit gradually subsides and you
return to pre-cycle lower levels (or below). This effect will take its toll on
your physical condition and ability to train at high intensity. Therefore,
administration of exogenous EPO can have obvious benefits in the steroid
In addition to its effect in increasing hematocrit, there is some evidence that
EPO has direct anabolic effects. It has been shown in rat studies to
substantially increase weight gain and injury repair after surgery. Furthermore,
EPO receptors are present on myoblasts (immature muscle cell progenitors) and
may have a potential in muscle development and repair.
EPO is sold in recombinant form (rhEPO) for injection. One popular form is
called Epogen�, and it is made for subcutaneous usage. A safe or starting dosage
is usually 20 i.u. per kilogram bodyweight, 3 times/week. After two or three
weeks, a maintenance dose of 20 iu/kg BW can be taken once a week. One should
wait about two weeks after ceasing steroids to commence EPO therapy to avoid any
excessive increases in hematocrit which can be quite dangerous. It is also very
advisable to have periodic blood tests that include a hematocrit assay while
taking EPO just to be safe. Interestingly, I think that this test is
automatically done for free everytime you donate blood, and all you need to do
is ask the nurse what your hematocrit is reading (just out of curiosity of
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