Post Cycle Therapy, or PCT, is very important for bodybuilders and athletes who use anabolic steroids as part of their performance enhancement routines.
It not only helps prevent fatigue and general feelings of malaise while the steroids exit their systems, but it also prevents side effects resulting from too little testosterone or too much estrogen. Read more about the best Post Cycle Therapy below.
Why Do You Need Post Cycle Therapy?
Anabolic steroids are variations of testosterone with slight molecular modifications designed to enhance their effects. When you use steroids, you are essentially providing your body with large amounts of exogenous testosterone.
About 21 days after you start your cycle, natural testosterone production comes to a stop. Then, when your cycle is over weeks later and you no longer use those steroids, your body enters a state of testosterone deficiency.
This results in significant side effects, not only from a lack of testosterone, but also from a buildup of estrogen. Post Cycle Therapy helps to kick-start natural testosterone production and prevent estrogen buildup so you can avoid those side effects.
The best Post Cycle Therapy goal involves stimulating your pituitary gland to produce substances called luteinizing hormone (LH) and follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) as quickly as possible, both of which stimulate your testicles to produce more testosterone.
There are several ways to do this, and one of the most popular involves using a SERM, or estrogen blocker. Two of the most popular are Clomid and Nolvadex, and either works just as well as the other.
These compounds directly stimulate the pituitary gland to make LH and FSH. The maximum Clomid dose is 150mg per day, and the maximum Nolvadex dose is 40mg per day.
Adding HGH or hCG
Some bodybuilders add HGH (Human Growth Hormone) or hCG (Human Chorionic Gonadotropin) to their PCT plans. HGH works to protect on-cycle gains and prevent fat deposits after the conclusion of a steroid cycle, but it takes a long time to work and is not useful during PCT unless you used it during your cycle, as well. hCG, on the other hand, is a fast-acting compound that mimics the LH in the body, thereby priming the body to accept the SERM that you will introduce a little later.
You truly only need to consider hCG if your anabolic cycle involved a high dose over a long period of time. Otherwise, the SERM should work well enough on its own.
Planning Your PCT
Now that you understand the various components in PCT, it is time to learn how to put them all together. The length of your PCT and when to start each component depends on the ester length of the steroid you used. In other words, if your steroid had a long half-life, you need to wait 10 days before beginning your PCT. Conversely, if your steroid had a short half-life, you only need to wait three days.
- If you used HGH on-cycle, simply continue with the HGH after your cycle ends and add a SERM three days or 10 days after your cycle end date. Take the SERM at the full dose for two weeks, then at a half dose for another two weeks. If you need to do so, you can halve the dose again for another week.
- If you will use hCG, take 500iu to 1000iu starting three days or 10 days after your cycle end date, and take it for 10 days in a row. Then, stop the hCG and take your SERM at full dose for two weeks. Follow this with a half-dose of your SERM for another two weeks. If you need to do so, you can halve the dose again for another week or two.
- If you will only use a SERM, start it three days or 10 days after your cycle end date at the maximum dose. Take it for two weeks, then divide the dose in half for another two weeks. Finally, if you are still concerned about estrogenic effects, or if you feel that your testosterone production has not returned to normal, you can halve the dose again and take it for another week or two.
The table below gives a sample PCT cycle that you can start at any time and follow from start to finish. Though daily doses for both Nolvadex and Clomid are listed, you should use one or the other and never both. Either of these SERMs is capable of providing the desired results, so the one you choose should be based on things like availability and cost. Remember not to add HGH to your best PCT cycle unless you used it on-cycle.
All-Natural Additions to the Best PCT
Aside from the most common compounds – SERMs, AIs, hCG, and HGH – some people may add in one or more all-natural products during their PCT to help with their muscle maintenance. Remember that PCT isn’t the end-all; you will still need to work hard to maintain your gains and lean physique. The following supplements may help.
- L-Arginine – L-Arginine is an important amino acid, and it’s the basis for many other amino acids in the body. A quality supplement can help you maintain your gains.
- Glutamine – Muscle proteins are comprised of about 40% glutamine, so it comes as no surprise that many athletes add this to their PCT.
- DHEA – There are many athletes and bodybuilders who find that DHEA, or dehydroepiandrosterone, is also a great means for keeping mass as it may help boost natural testosterone levels immediately following a steroid cycle. However, it could possibly convert to estrogen just as readily as testosterone. Men who choose to use DHEA for the best PCT should be aware of this risk.
What about PCT for Women?
Post cycle therapy is designed to help keep hormone levels stable in the body while transitioning out of a steroid cycle.
This means that, oftentimes, the best post cycle therapy for women is a simple tapering down of the dose toward the end of the cycle. For example, a woman who is using Anavar to add bulk at 20mg a day may choose to start tapering the last week of her cycle, reducing it by about 5mg every other day.
This will ease her off the steroids and prevent the “shock” to her body that may occur from a sudden hormonal shift.
Aside from this, women do not need to take AIs and SERMs. Anabolic steroids do not interfere with estrogen production, and while women need testosterone, too, the effect on a woman is far less significant than a man.
A woman’s testosterone production occurs in the ovaries, and because anabolic steroids at low doses tend to not affect the ovaries in any way, there is simply no need for concern. As such, the best post cycle therapy for steroids used by women is to come off the steroid slowly rather than all at once.
Although PCT might seem complicated, it is quite simple. Just pay attention to the half-life of the steroid you used, and make sure that you have enough hCG, HGH, and Clomid or Nolvadex on hand to complete your PCT before you even begin your steroid cycle.