The Delusions & Reality of Hormone Cycling

Are you delusional or realistic about your physique goals?

If I were to ask you point blank what your body fat is what would you tell me face to face?

If I were to show you a picture of someone else's body that is very similar to yours, would you acknowledge it or be in denial?

If you and your significant other see a man walk by twice the musculature that you are and much leaner would you credit him or tell yourself that if you took the same stuff (drugs) he took, you would appear the same?

These are all questions and scenario's that I have witnessed, and reminds me that some people cannot grasp reality. 

Let's start from the beginning…

When you first begin weight training, you are usually clueless and unaware of proper nutrition,rest, training and all the key variables involved in getting results. For the fresh beginner, results will manifest regardless, simply due to the "foreign" stress that is happening to your fresh muscle tissue. Muscle growth, increase in metabolic rate and a better sense of well-being will inevitably happen…..AT FIRST. Once this grace period comes to a plateau (usually a few months) you will need to further educate yourself about proper nutrition and more sound training routines to keep the results soaring.  

Let's investigate a typical hypothetical scenario –

Although everybody gets results in the very early stages of weight training, some people respond ABNORMALLY well to lifting weights and will leave their training partners in the dust! So if both trainees started weight training at the same time, but one surpassed the other by a huge margin, it is very apparent that genetics are crucial in muscle hypertrophy and favorable body composition. The training partners will both accrue more knowledge in regards to nutrition, supplementation, and different training techniques but the genetic superior will always stay way ahead.  As time passes the thought of hormonal assistance is becoming extremely tempting to the genetic inferior.  In fact, he begins his first cycle in hopes to surpass his training partner. He begins to put some weight on (water–>via–>glycogen retention), his strength begins to increase, muscles appear fuller (more 3-dimensional looking) but he still does not look like his training partner?

I mean, he has put on 15-20 lbs. in 4 weeks, and has gotten stronger, but he still is not as impressive as his damn training partner! 

This scenario is so harsh and disheartening for most people to accept that it literally drives them insane. If they don't accept the fact that some peoples genetic makeup responds better to muscle stimuli, food, drugs and all other pertinent aspects of muscle growth- they begin to make assumptions for their short-comings. Perhaps thinking their superior partners are taking some special product behind their backs, taking huge amounts of hormones or all of the above. Let's say that the genetic superior decided to dabble in hormonal assistance, most likely due to other experienced people noticing his potential, telling him how well he'd do in Bodybuilding and what not. 

This is when the genetic elite trainee EXPLODES! His already lean and muscular physique gets even more profound with big & round muscles and low body fat. 

As you can see from this common scenario, it will be obvious right from the beginning who is predisposition to be a lean & muscular elitist among people with mediocre genetics. 

So what can you do about this painful, yet rude awakening fact of life?

Well, first off get your training and nutrition down as best as you can before even CONSIDERING hormonal assistance. How many times have you seen younger "newbies" choose a harsh methylated, designer hormone before considering a high quality protein powder, let alone even looking as if they lift weights to begin with? People want to take short-cuts and assume that hormones are the missing link to them looking like a Greek God. 

Once you stress all variables at your disposal then you may need to turn to hormones for breaking through new grounds. Once you commit to going to the "dark side" of hormonal cycling understand that you will get results, but DO NOT get irate when you don't turn into Mr.Olympia afterwards, 

It is truly sad when someone who fails to grasp reality will cycle steroids and gain a respectable amount of muscle (8-14 lbs.), gains some strength, loses some body fat, yet are pissed off that they did not achieve more? 

For the newbie hormone user or experienced user, you must still continue on with your diligent eating and training regimen that you SHOULD HAVE been doing in the first place. To truly maximize your supra-physiological hormone levels, you must feed the muscle high quality protein, essential fats, and complex carbs every day. Just because you have an athletic friend from Nigeria who can eat candy, potato chips and fast food all day and go to the gym for a half -ass workout and look better than you does NOT mean that you shouldn't do everything in your power to make the most of what you got.

Let's now make a "Pre-Cycle Checklist" for variables that MUST be addressed before committing to a hormone cycle

The Pre-Cycle Checklist – 

1.) I have stressed all avenues of nutrition and found out what suits my body best.

2.) I have stressed all facets of training and found out what suits my body best.

3.) I have been training diligently for more than 6 months while eating and training consistently.

4.) I understand that genetics play an integral role in nutrition response, training response and hormone response.

5.) I understand that you CANNOT continue gaining 10-15 lbs. each and every cycle.

6.) I understand that there is a "diminishing returns" effect when using higher dosages of hormones and side   effects become prominent.

7.) I understand that to improve upon each cycle I must increase a variable to continue gaining – increase calories or increase weight on lifts or increase dosage of hormone or all of the above.

8.) I understand that SAYING I eat 5000 calories a day is much different than LITERALLY EATING 5000 calories a day.

9.) I understand that SAYING I am 8-9% body fat is much different than LITERALLY being 8-9% body fat with ALL abs fully visible and have very thin skin all over.

10.) I understand and acknowledge all of the above.

If you can understand & oblige to this list, then you are realistic enough and mature enough to engage into hormonal assistance. You must segregate yourself from false perceptions and accept reality. Please do not become discouraged from the information given and use it to your benefit and seek out your underlying potential, just be a realist about it.

I personally have witnessed several competitive Bodybuilders' with average genetics annihilate genetically gifted or "elite" athletes due to impeccable work ethic, adherence to perfect nutrition, and giving everything they had to achieve the end result they sought after. I have noticed a lot of the time, the genetic elite athletes understand that they can do the bare minimum and look better than 95% of everyone else. This awareness makes them LAZY. Can you imagine if that genetically gifted person had the drive, will power, and persistence as the average athlete that is a work horse? It would be a sight to behold. 

I hope everything discussed in this article will "sink in" and let each and every one of you acknowledge the importance of all variables involved in this muscle-building equation. Leave no stone un-turned, and give it everything you got, because for most humans……..building high-quality muscle isn't easy.

Thou Shall Cut on Gear and Bulk off Cycle

How many times have you heard someone say “I’m going to bulk up while on cycle and cut up once I’m finished?” They are probably under the train of thought that they can eat everything in sight as long as it has protein in it. The trainee is most likely using aromatizing bulking agents for their cycle, which elicits estrogenic body fat accumulation in Alpha-2 enriched adipose sites.

Estrogenic Alpha-2 Receptors Shown Below:

A poorly planned diet disregarding quality calories on top of highly aromatizable compounds is a perfect recipe for looking like a sumo wrestler instead of a bodybuilder! These misinformed individuals typically think that they will magically cut up once they cease their cycle of anabolics. Due to an ignorant nutrition program and a lack of understanding about the way hormones work, they set themselves up for a major disappointment.  Sure they naturally lose excessive water retention from discontinuing the aromatizing compounds and fool themselves into thinking they are on their way to being shredded, but that surely isn’t the case. In fact, they will most likely lose everything they gained on cycle, and perhaps look worse than before starting the cycle. An insufficient recovery, due to excessive calorie cutting and ineffective PCT products will yield a catabolic environment. Deciding to diet down during your post cycle therapy is perhaps the most catastrophic time to do so. You see, when in PCT, your endogenous hormone levels are plummeted and high calories from protein, carbohydrates, and fats are crucial in holding size, and keeping cortisol levels under control.  When you diet during a post cycle therapy phase you are essentially pouring more gas on the catabolic fire. You increase cortisol by reducing calories lower than on cycle, incorporating more cardiovascular training, and opting for lighter weight and higher reps for your weight training.  Please do not make this mistake and throw your muscle gains and money down the toilet, and keep reading to learn a better approach to proper hormone cycling.

——–OR——–

The wisest approach when cycling would be to aim for an extreme composition change where you diet stringently to achieve the lowest body fat possible, while gaining muscle mass in the process. In order to accomplish such a feat, you need to be incredibly meticulous with your diet, training, and cardio regimen.  You should plan a cycle that is safe and effective so you have adequate time to meet your goal. A 12-18 week cycle would be recommended as you want to gradually lower body fat and increase muscle mass. The first half of the cycle and sometimes a little longer is what I refer to as “the grace period,” meaning, at that time you should still have adequate nutrition for muscle accrual yet low enough calories to continuously shed body fat. The final 4 weeks of the diet should be brutally strict and at this time you will you go from “ripped” to “shredded.” Calories are further reduced and cardiovascular exercise is maximized, the exogenous hormones will be able to prevent you from burning up muscle.

“RIPPED to SHREDDED”

——TO——

Once the cycle is concluded you should be in the best shape of your life and looking absolutely amazing with paper thin skin, pronounced vascularity, and very chiseled features. By having the discipline and mental toughness to get yourself into such lean condition, you have set yourself up for a very productive Post Cycle Therapy and mass gaining phase simultaneously. You will need to plan your off cycle and bulking phase to perfection to yield the desired results. I would recommend Human Chorionic Gonatropin to have been sporadically implemented into the cutting cycle to keep luteinizing hormone and follicle stimulating hormone still functioning at some capacity. Proper SERM selection would be ideal for PCT alongside natural hormonal boosters such as, trans-resveratrol, d-aspartic-acid and quality Bulgarian tribulus.

HCG + Sustain Alpha + TCF-1 + Tribestan = Superior Hormonal Recovery.

+ + +

In the initial stages of your post cycle phase you want to really take advantage of your rebound, and voracious appetite, and ingest copious amounts of quality foods. Months of dieting dramatically increases your insulin sensitivity, which makes processing glucose from carbohydrates very efficient, driving nutrients into muscle cells opposed to adipose tissue.  You should prioritize nutritious carbohydrate sources from whole oats, yams, Ezekiel bread, various beans and berries. Fats should be from whole eggs, red meat, and essential fatty acids. Protein should be in ample supply from all sources. The first 2 weeks of this off-cycle and bulking phase will be incredible as you will soak up nutrients like a sponge and muscle cells will be engorged with glycogen, minerals, and amino acids. Strength will be creeping up from the extra weight gain and water retention, while fat accumulation hasn’t started to  manifest itself yet.

Ideal protein sources:                      Ideal carb sources:                    Ideal fat sources:
-Bonesless,skinless chicken breast       -Whole oats                                 -Egg yolks
-Lean and fatty fresh fish                      -Yams                                           -Olive oil
-Cottage cheese                                   -Flourless Breads                         -Fish oil
-Lean cuts of red meat                         -Black beans                                 -Raw nuts
-Whole eggs                                         -Berries                                         -Fat from meat

Keep in mind, what goes up, must come down. Meaning, you cannot keep forcing high calories like the first 3-4 weeks or else you are asking for excessive body fat accumulation. After week 4, you must put on the brakes and begin cycling your carbohydrates and calories accordingly to make sure you stay in acceptable condition for your bulking phase. This cycling practice is very common amongst competitive Bodybuilders who choose to stay natural in the off-season and only use hormonal assistance when preparing for a competition.  This method will allow you to get into amazing condition while on cycle and essentially grow off cycle. You also increase your post cycle recovery by introducing an influx of calories, which will boost insulin and testosterone from the carbohydrate and dietary fat intake.  You also get to give your endocrine system a nice break and clean out, so you can be receptive for your next bout of cycling. By now you should realize how detrimental it is to not diet or “cut up” once you conclude your steroid cycle, and that doing the exact opposite will be your best plan of action in achieving the optimal results for the goal at hand.

References:
1.) Demling RH, Orgill DP. The anticatabolic and wound healing effects of the testosterone analog oxandrolone after severe burn injury.  J Crit Care. 2000 Mar;15(1):12-7.

2.) D’Aniello A, Di Cosmo A, Di Cristo C, Annunziato L, Petrucelli L, Fisher GH:
Involvement of D-aspartic acid in the synthesis of testosterone in rat testes. Life Sci. 1996, 59:97-104.

3.) D’Aniello A, Di Fiore MM, D’Aniello G, Colin FE, Lewis G, Setchell BP: Secretion of
D-aspartic acid by the rat testis and its role in endocrinology of the testis and
spermatogenesis. FEBS Letters 1998, 436:23-27.

4.) Meikle AAW, Stringham JJD, Woodward MMG, McMurry MMP. Effects of a fat-containing meal on sex hormones in men. Metabolism, clinical and experimental 1990;39:943-6.

5.) Ferrando AA, Chinkes DL, Wolf SE, Matin S, Herndon DN, Wolfe RR. 1999 A submaximal dose of insulin promotes net skeletal muscle protein synthesis in patients with severe burns. Ann Surg. 229(1):11–18.

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