If you're thinking about taking prohormones or anabolic steroids, you need to know how to run an effective PCT (post cycle therapy).
What exactly is post cycle therapy? And why do we need it?
A PCT is usually incorporated after a steroid-cycle ends. The reason why this is a critical time for a bodybuilder is because anabolic hormone levels (such as testosterone) are usually shut down at this point. Thus the idea of a post cycle therapy protocol is to control estrogen levels and increase your testosterone production back to normal levels.
As you're probably already aware, low testosterone levels can make it increasingly difficult to maintain gains in strength or size from your steroid cycle. Also low T can have a negative effect on your overall mood and well-being.
Failing to administer an effective PCT can result in less gains. However, running diligent PCT's can help you retain the mass you gained from your cycle for years to come. Generally the more you're shut down from a steroid, the more challenging it is to hang onto gains.
What PCT Supplements Are There?
Any supplement that naturally increases your testosterone levels/decreases estrogen levels can be considered an effective PCT supplement.
Such supplements will improve: muscle recovery, estrogen balance, fat loss, your health, workout intensity and libido.
…These are things which usually suffer after a cycle.
Natural Testosterone Boosters
Any supplement that contains D-aspartic acid or tribulus terrestris is a good PCT supplement. D-aspartic acid is an amino acid which has proven to increase testosterone levels.
Tribulus terrestris has also been proven to have a dramatic effect on DHT levels (which is actually more anabolic than regular testosterone).
Tribulus-users also report a noticeable increase in their libido when taking this herb.
Testo-Max contains both of these ingredients making it an effective post cycle therapy supplement.
What if I don't run a PCT?
Some people can get away with not running a PCT and still keep most of their gains, but if you want to be as big and strong as possible, a PCT is essential. This also gives you better value for your cycle.
…And steroids aren't exactly cheap.
If you don't run a PCT, your hormone levels may take several months to recover.
However, a well thought out and planned PCT can speed up this process significantly and restore your normal hormone function in half the time.
That's not to say running a PCT is easy, it takes much trial and error with different supplements to see how they affect your testosterone production, as everyone's different. However, after a couple of PCT's you should begin to get a feel of which supplements are working for you.
How to Plan Your Post Cycle Therapy?
The first thing you want is a SERM.
This is stands for selective estrogen receptor modulator and some good options are Clomid or Nolvadex.
These essentially are prescription drugs used to help restore healthy testosterone levels. You won’t make gains solely from taking Clomid or Nolva alone, instead these are taken to try and retain the gains you already have.
Don’t confuse the term SERM with SARM.
SARM stands for selective androgen receptor modulator. These are basically drugs which act like mild anabolic steroids and the reason you shouldn't take these post-cycle is because they shut down your test production (contrary to what some people say).
A SERM works by stimulating the pituitary gland, which in turn releases more luteinizing hormone.
What this means is that your testes will start producing more testosterone. Bingo!
Aside from an effective SERM, you may also need an aromatase inhibitor.
AI's will block the conversion of testosterone to estrogen. This is key post-cycle when your estrogen levels are sky high and your testosterone levels are the equivalent of a small Asian child.
AI's can be used during a steroid cycle, but they're also effective PCT supplements too. In short, AI's are the best way to keep your estrogen levels in check, so you can remain looking and feeling like a man. If you've experienced any gyno during your cycle, AI's should be the first supplement on your PCT shopping list.
Related article: How to get rid of gyno
One of the better AI supplements is Letrozole.
Letrozole can decrease estrogen levels by 98%, which is quite incredible. It's powerful impact on estrogen levels has resulted in it being a successful treatment of breast cancer.
Letrozole also happens to be pretty good value for money, with it priced at around $30.
After you come off AI's, your hormone function will go back to normal, meaning estrogen levels won't be shut down or rise to excessive levels. When taking AI's, it's best not to consume alcohol as this can raise estrogen levels, blunting the effects of letrozole.
PCT Health Benefits
A PCT isn't just necessary for maximum gains, but also to restore your health.
A steroid-user damages their body with each cycle, so if they want to continue taking steroids for a long period of time, it's critical that their body recovers inbetween cycles.
PCT's can help a person's liver recover, improve their immune system and help them remain fertile.
Failing to look after certain organs and processes in the body can result in liver failure, cancer or/and infertility later down the road.
Best Post Cycle Therapy Supplements
So we've already mentioned test boosters, serms and AI's that you can use during a PCT.
There also also steroid alternatives you can use to keep your body as anabolic as possible.
Crazy Bulk's legal steroid alternatives contain a mixture of ingredients including: testosterone boosters, amino acids, proteins and creatine.
So there products are NOT anabolic steroids or pro hormones, but 100% natural ingredients meaning they'll have a positive effect on your hormones instead of shutting you down.
Their top 3 bulking compounds are:
PCT by CrazyBulk
Alternatively, Crazybulk have a product tailored for PCT which contains tribulus terrestris, nettle root, saw palmetto, red grapeseed extract and milk thistle.
The first 3 ingredients will spike your test levels, red grapeseed extract has great antioxidants boosting your immunity and milk thistle is great for detoxing your liver.
By taking PCT your health will undoubtedly improve, and you'll feel better for it physically and mentally.
Are ALL Post Cycle Therapies Safe?
This is a question you hear every so often.
The whole point of a PCT is to keep you safe.
But sure, there will be some post cycle therapy protocol's which aren't safe, basically meaning that they aren't good PCTs. Some guys use powerful compounds in a bid to continue making gains during a PCT and what ends up happening is that their health deteriorates even more so.
However, if you stick to the supplements mentioned in this article, these will all have a safe and positive impact on your health. For those thinking about taking pro hormones or any other harsh compound as a PCT, don't bother. It's not worth sabotaging your health in a bid to make some measly gains.