Testosterone - the daddy of all anabolic steroids, quite literally. Whilst other anabolic steroids are structurally akin and have similar effects on the body as Testosterone, the big-T’s tale of the tape is unrivalled and it’s usually the first choice, whether as a base for a stacked cycle or simply to run on its own.
Testosterones popularity shouldn’t really come as any surprise, after all – it’s the primary, natural occurring anabolic hormone in men. It’s extremely versatile as a compound, suitable for users across the experience spectrum and perfect for bulking and cutting cycles alike. While those who are particularly prone to steroid related side effects may find Testosterone unsuitable, the vast majority will find Testosterone tolerable in the doses commonly used. Oh, and it’s relatively inexpensive and widely available – always a plus point!
The first thing to tackle when it comes to Testosterone is the “ester”, as this may confuse those new to anabolics and Testosterone.
You’ll typically see a name after Testosterone – this is the ester. Simply, the ester attached to Testosterone will determine how fast or slow the Testosterone is released in the body. Chemically, the ester is a chain of carbons attached the Testosterone molecule – the longer the chain, the less soluble the drug, and the slower the release.
Here’s a short list of the common Testosterone esters you’ll no doubt come across:
Testosterone enanthate and Testosterone cypionate – these two esters are very similar (cypionate has one extra carbon) and often referred to interchangeably. Concentrations of Testosterone will continue to increase for a few days after an injection and remain elevated for a couple of weeks. This means the Testosterone can be injected a couple of times a week (say, Monday and Thursday) for relatively stable concentrations during a cycle.
Testosterone propionate – this has a much shorter carbon chain and therefore is released much quicker into the body. For this reason it is necessary to perform regular injections (typically every day or every other day) to keep the blood concentrations stable. One thing to note with propionate is it’s usually a sore injection. As a general rule of thumb – the shorter the ester the more painful the injection. Swelling of the injection site is fairly common.
Testosterone suspension – well, testosterone suspension doesn’t in fact have an ester! It’s simply testosterone in sterilised water, and as you’d expect – it causes a rapid release of testosterone in the body which only lasts a day or so. For this reason Testosterone suspension is not widely used in bodybuilding but has been a favourite amongst dirty athletes and sports people who know there is a limited window in which they may get tested for performance enhancing drugs!
When discussed online you’ll often find the compounds and their esters abbreviated; “test e” for Testosterone enanthate and “prop” for Testosterone propionate, for example.
A Testosterone cycle is generally considered the perfect option for someone embarking on their first ever AAS cycle. As mentioned, it’s a versatile compound which is usually well tolerated and will produce very satisfactory results.
Opting for Testosterone will obviously involve regular injections (see our guide how to inject steroids). If you’re too needle-shy your options will be severely limited - reduced to orals only cycles (which are much harsher on your liver).
Testosterone enanthate tends to be the preferred choice for a beginner’s cycle, as this allows the user to inject bi-weekly (say, on a Monday and Thursday) and the ester tends to allow for a fairly smooth injection. A typical cycle would be 500mg per week for ten to twelve weeks in total. An AAS beginner could expect to see fairly dramatic increases in strength and muscle mass during and after the cycle. Testosterone enanthate is usually available in 250mg ampoules making it perfect for such dosing.
Testosterone propionate is also an option for a beginner, although the obvious drawback is the regular need to inject (usually every other day) and the irritation and pain often experienced after the injection. That said, some beginners have opted for propionate in the past as it allowed them to test their tolerance for the drug and quickly cease the cycle if necessary – remember, the propionate ester has a much shorter half-life so the drug can be out the system a lot quicker than Testosterone enanthate when the cycle is ended. The cycle would be typically dosed at 100mg to 150mg every other day (so, 350mg – 525mg per week).
Generally, most people would be wise to go with Testosterone enanthate (or cypionate).
As with all AAS cycles, post cycle therapy (PCT) is a must. For enanthate the PCT will begin two weeks after the last injection, and for propionate, three days.
Testosterone possesses both androgenic and oestrogenic properties so there are a number of possible side effects to watch out for.
Firstly, there are a number of androgenic side effects which are common with Testosterone, including oily skin, acne, acceleration of baldness, and heightened aggressiveness. Not everyone will experience these side effects as it differs greatly from person to person, but you may be best avoiding androgenic steroids if you think you are likely to be prone (for example, you’re susceptible to acne outbreaks or have anger issues).
Some steroids, including Testosterone, can aromatase (converts to oestrogen in the body) so it’s important to be on the lookout as oestrogen levels begin to raise in the body during the cycle. Oestrogen is primarily the female hormone and heightened levels can cause greater fat storage, water retention, and Gynecomstia – the formation of breast tissue, which typically causes itchy or sore nipples in its early stages.
It is possible to counteract the negative effects of oestrogen, either with a drug that competes for the oestrogen receptor or one which actually reduces the overall level of oestrogen in the body.
Nolvadex binds to the oestrogen receptors, therefore reducing the negative effects of the heightened oestrogen in the body. It is always recommended you have an ample supply of Nolvadex to hand in case you experience oestrogen related side effects. To be clear though, Nolvadex will not reduce the level of oestrogen in your body during the cycle; it will merely compete for the same receptors and therefore limit the effects.
There are drugs called anti-aromatases which actively reduce the conversion of the steroid into oestrogen and therefore can dramatically reduce the level of oestrogen that builds up. Some users, especially those who know they are prone to oestrogenic side effects, prefer to take a steady dose of an anti-aromatase, such as Proviron or Anastrozole, over the entire course of their cycle.
Testosterone serves as a great choice no matter your experience level, either providing a great base when stacking with other compounds, or simply to run on its own.
Being highly versatile, there are many options when it comes to choosing a compound to stack with Testosterone. The choice will typically be determined by the user’s desired goal, tolerance, experience and cost.
Here are some cycle ideas (for informational purposes!) for the experienced user:
|Week 1||500-750mg (per week)||40mg (per day)|
|Week 2||500-750mg (per week)||40mg (per day)|
|Week 3||500-750mg (per week)||40mg (per day)|
|Week 4||500-750mg (per week)||40mg (per day)|
|Week 5||500-750mg (per week)||40mg (per day)|
|Week 6||500-750mg (per week)||40mg (per day)|
|Week 7||500-750mg (per week)|
|Week 8||500-750mg (per week)|
|Week 9||500-750mg (per week)|
|Week 10||500-750mg (per week)|
|Week 11||500-750mg (per week)|
|Week 12||500-750mg (per week)|
|Week 1||500mg (per week)||500mg (per week)|
|Week 2||500mg (per week)||500mg (per week)|
|Week 3||500mg (per week)||500mg (per week)|
|Week 4||500mg (per week)||500mg (per week)|
|Week 5||500mg (per week)||500mg (per week)|
|Week 6||500mg (per week)||500mg (per week)|
|Week 7||500mg (per week)||500mg (per week)|
|Week 8||500mg (per week)||500mg (per week)|
|Week 9||500mg (per week)||500mg (per week)|
|Week 10||500mg (per week)||500mg (per week)|
|Week 11||500mg (per week)||500mg (per week)|
|Week 12||500mg (per week)||500mg (per week)|
|Testosterone propionate||Winstrol (oral)|
|Week 1||100mg (per day)||60mg (per day)|
|Week 2||100mg (per day)||60mg (per day)|
|Week 3||100mg (per day)||60mg (per day)|
|Week 4||100mg (per day)||60mg (per day)|
|Week 5||100mg (per day)||60mg (per day)|
|Week 6||100mg (per day)||60mg (per day)|
|Week 7||100mg (per day)|
|Week 8||100mg (per day)|
|Week 9||100mg (per day)|
|Week 10||100mg (per day)|
|Week 11||PCT (begins three days after cycle ends)|