Due to all the question I have been getting on steroid cycles, I thought it would help to clarify the two schools of thought when it comes to steroid cycles.
This is the traditional steroid cycle. It had its roots in the bulking cycle that basically started with athletes experimenting with steroids. It soon became evident, from a bodybuilding point of view, that the water and fat retention that went hand in hand with bulking cycles was a problem when it came to stage preparation. More experimentation followed and the traditional cutting cycle became commonplace.
The problem today is that guys are doing bulking cycles and then stopping there. This leads to a few problems. To understand this you need to understand the benefits of the bulking cutting cycle.
During the bulking cycle the goal is to pack on as much muscle as possible. This goes hand in hand with water and fat retention, both are desirable in getting to maximum strength and size gains. At the end of the cycle you sit with lots of everything and the cutting cycle has the sole purpose of minimising muscle loss while you are dieting hard to get rid of the fat. The “cutting steroids” as often wrongly thought of as fat burners as they don’t actually burn fat or cut you, the diet does that. The diet also burns muscle. The “cutting steroids” are used to reduce the muscle loss, and at the same time you don’t want them to cause waster retention.
There is one key feature of the bulking and cutting cycles that many people overlook: the ultimate goal is to get to very low body fat situation, and this effect is meant to be for a short duration. So one can say the main goal of this type of cycle is to get the maximum muscle and minimum fat and water, on stage for a competition, over a set period of time.
During these cycles your body fat can go from 25% down to 1%, and bodyweight may vary by 10-20kgs, but this is not sustainable. However, after the cycle is completed one finds an increase in size and weight that stabilises depending on diet. The overall ratio of muscle gained and fat lost will be higher than a single “trade off” cycle for the same periods. The bulking and cutting cycles works hand in hand. By themselves you don’t get a great overall result. If you bulk only you end up bloated and with no cutting cycle to solidify the muscle gain, even with a post cycle treatment regimen you will lose most of the gains. A cutting cycle by itself will not yield any real gains.
For “normal” people the bulking cutting cycle is very much an option, one simply does not go to the extremes as would a competitive bodybuilder. The “trade off” cycle may well be an better option of a safer, more gradual muscle gain, with less side effects and better retention of results.
Trade muscle for fat
As the use of steroids moved from purely competitive use to ascetics, the cycle evolved as well. I think that the demands on bodybuilders who found themselves in long season of having to be in shape also contributed to this type of cycles popularity.
The main goal here is not so much size and weight gains as the desire to trade fat weight for muscle weight. The ideal cycle will leave with the same body weight where you started, but a marked reduction in body fat. Generally, these results are more permanent. Diets on “trade” cycles are not as radical as during the bulking/cutting cycles and this is another reason it is preferred by the average or non-competitive person. Your body fat will never go as low because the diet is not as radical but a more sustainable situation is achieved.
Now that we have a better understanding of the two cycles, one can research potential steroids with a bit more accuracy. Regardless of your choice of cycles, the important thing is to have a plan and to stick to it. If you are looking at a 12-week transformation cycle then “trade-off” is a good option. If you are looking to gain muscle and compete, the bulking and cutting is the way to go.