The reasons why athletes voluntarily or willy-nilly discontinue steroids are various – One of the main reasons which speak for an interruption of the steroid regime are certain possible health risks. Some discontinue steroids simply out of habit because one has heard that after a maximum of 12 weeks a suspension of the same period is suggested. Some discontinue because of limited financial resources or in view of a championship with doping tests. Often, also, the decreasing effect of the administered steroids and the smaller gains which manifest themselves after several weeks are a determining factor.
Something almost all athletes have in common with this scenario: One is looking forward to the following weeks with mixed feelings since one does not know what to expect and those who already have some experience (mostly negative) know only too well what lies ahead. Possible apprehensions are, by all means, justified since most athletes experience the classic interruption symptoms such as weight loss, less body strength, muscular atrophy (loss of muscle tissue) and increased fat deposits. Some experience depressions, aversion to training, lethargy, and a lack of discipline.
How is this possible? Very simply, the athlete experiences a catabolic phase. The athlete now has to deal with two major problems which will burden him during the following weeks and which make several athletes go “back to the stuff ” after interrupting their steroid regime for only a very short time. First, it is very likely that the body’s own testosterone production will be reduced since most steroids have an inhibiting effect on the hypothalamohypophysial testicular axis, resulting in a reduced testosterone production in the testes by the Leydig’s cells.
The extent of the reduction depends on the duration of the steroid intake and especially on the strength of the steroids taken. The more androgenic a steroid the more distinct its inhibiting effect on the endogenous testosterone production. In first place are certainly the various testosterone compounds Dianabol and Anadrol, exactly what works so well. When taking the more moderate steroids including Deca Durabolin, Primobolan, Winstrol, the extent of a possible endogenous testosterone suppression is not only lower but also much slower and more even.
Studies of Dianabol, for example, have shown that a conservative dosage of 20 mg/day after only 10 days leads to a 30% to 40% suppression. Since the body’s own hormone production cannot be elevated from one day to the next, the athlete experiences a critical over bridging phase. The effect of the exogenous hormones is nonexistent and the body’s own testosterone level helps only little to improve the situation. Thus it is important to increase the endogenous testosterone production as quickly as possible.
The second problem is the clearly more relevant and probably the more decisive factor for the potentially considerable performance loss of the athletes. As we know, steroids have a highly anticatabolic effect by reducing the catabolic effect of the body’s own hormone, cortisone. When taking steroids, the steroid molecules block the cortisone receptors so that the cortisone produced by the adrenal gland cannot attach to the receptors, thus remaining for the most part deactivated.
The body reacts by producing additional cortisone receptors so that, in the meantime, the unusually high amount of cortisone receptors in the blood can finally do their job. This again is not very serious as long as the athlete continues to take the steroids as planned.
However, when the steroid regime is terminated the cortisone receptors are suddenly freed and the large quantity of free cortisone molecules in the blood now know exactly what to do. They rush to the cortisone receptors to form a molecule/receptor complex and transmit to the muscle cell the following message which is so unpleasant for the athlete: break down amino acids. These leave the muscle cell and enter the blood where they are transformed into glucose or blood sugar.
The athlete’s second problem, in addition to increasing the endogenous testosterone production, is to lower the cortisone level to an acceptable level. As the reader knows, this goal is achievable to a high extent.
In the following… we will describe a sensible, step-by-step approach to interrupt the steroid regime, and the time after. Particular attention will be paid to the two problematic factors described in detail. We want to, however, explicitly emphasize that this information is no guarantee to protect the athlete from a loss of performance.
(1) It is important that the athlete predetermines the time when he will stop the intake so that he can sufficiently prepare himself for it. This especially means to procure the necessary supportive preparations and to find the right mental attitude.
(2) Prepare for day X slowly and steadily. The athlete should stop taking the strongly androgenic steroids approximately four weeks before interrupting the steroid regime. When tablets such as Dianabol or Anadrol are taken, these are to be reduced slowly and evenly within fourteen days so that exactly two weeks before day X the oral intake of predominantly androgenic, steroids is terminated.
Those who take injectable, androgenic steroids such as Testosterone or Parabolan reduce these to zero within four weeks so that their intake will end on day X. The milder, oral steroids such as Primobolan S, Winstrol, Oxandrolone, Oral-Turinabol, etc. are slowly and evenly reduced fourteen days before day X so that after two weeks they are no longer taken. It is sufficient when the dosage of the “weaker” injectable steroids such as Deca-Durabolin, Primobolan Depot, Winstrol Depot is reduced to half of their intake about one week before termination.
(3) Avoid an abrupt discontinuance of all steroids at the same time because the body would enter an immediate catabolic phase. The cortisone receptors will be free and in combination with the low testosterone and androgen levels a considerable loss of strength and mass, and an increase of fat and water, and often gynecomastia will occur. Gynecomastia is possible because the suddenly low androgen level shifts the relationship in favor of the estrogens which suddenly become the domineering hormone. Especially eye-catching is also the extreme listlessness to training or sex and a generally weak state of mind of several athletes. If not forced because of medical reasons never discontinue steroids “cold turkey”
(4) If the athlete does not yet take antiestrogens he should begin their intake during the last weeks before ending the steroid regime. Athletes who already take antiestrogens the weeks before should continue to do so over the described interval. A daily combination of 20 mg Nolvadex and 25 mg Proviron is usually sufficient for this purpose. This avoids an estrogen surplus, an important factor, which also must be considered when in the following testosterone stimulants such as HCG are taken since HCG often also increases the estrogen level. Since the androgenic effect of Proviron also promotes the increase of the androgen level the androgen/estrogen ratio is further shifted in favor of the androgens. The possibility of a rebound effect after the discontinuance of the antiestrogen combination is considerably reduced by Proviron.
(5) In order to increase the body’s own testosterone production the athlete, on one hand, takes HCG which directly and quickly stimulates the Leydig’s cells in the testes and, on the other hand, takes Clomid which promotes the complete hypothalamohypophysial testicular axis, however, it needs a longer start-up phase. The administration of HCG begins during the last week of discontinuance. The athlete injects three times 5000 i.u. in a three-day interval. Following, three more injections of 5000 i.u. are injected every five days. After the third HCG injection the intake of Clomid begins since its gonadotropin-stimulating effect in the event of an already activated increased testicular activity is more effective. Clomid is now taken over two weeks, two tablets of 50 mg each per day in the first week and 50 mg tablets per day in the second week. Point 5 obviously does not apply to women.
(6) All this, however, helps only if the athlete is able to mostly block out the catabolic effect of the increased cortisone level. A compound which, because of its distinct anticatabolic effect, fulfills this requirement is the beta-2 sympathomimetic, Clenbuterol. Clenbuterol successfully blocks the cortisone receptors so that the athlete is usually able to maintain a large portion of the strength and muscle mass built up by the steroids. The intake of Clenbuterol begins directly at the end of the steroid therapy and continues over 8-10 weeks (see also Clenbuterol). Another compound of the group of sympaticomimetics which also has an anticatabolic effect (but less pronounced than Clenbuterol) is Ephedrine. Probably the most suitable drug in this situation is a preparation which in school medicine is used in the treatment of the Cushing’s syndrome, a hyperfunction of the adrenal glands which causes the body to produce too much cortisone. The drug is called Cytadren. Since it reduces the cortisone level extremely well athletes usually take it directly after completion of a steroid treatment.
Several athletes take thyroid hormones in this phase since they have an anabolic effect when taken in small dosages and for not excessively long intake intervals. Their effect can be clearly increased by the anticatabolic effect of Clenbuterol which explains why this combination is used during the phase of discontinuance. The use of growth hormone also makes sense since it has a strong anticatabolic/anabolic effect. You can forget Ornithin and Arginin which supposedly increase the release of GH, because they are ineffective. Distance yourself from the thought that pharmaceutically improved muscle mass can be maintained with “natural methods.”
(7) Adjust your nutrition according to the new situation. After discontinuance of the steroid intake the metabolism will go back to normal. This means that the athlete should reduce his daily caloric intake over the course of several days by 25-30%. The protein supply, however, should still be relatively high at 1- 1.5 g of protein per pound of bodyweight per day.
(8) Reduce your workout schedule. Avoid maintaining the same workout program as during steroid regime since this would only magnify the catabolic effect. The athlete should not come up with the crazy idea of compensating a possible loss of performance by increasing the extent and intensity of his workout since such an action would have a negative effect. Limit yourself to your basic exercises, train every muscle once a week, and try to maintain your strength as much as possible. Do not train more than four times a week and limit the workout sessions to 60 minutes. Several so called “experts” are of the opinion that the athlete after a steroid regime should avoid the heavy basic movements for some time and suggest that exercises are carried out more frequently with lower weights. Dear Reader, try it. Those who used to make 8 repetitions of squats with 400 pounds and now switch to leg extensions or leg presses with 12-15 repetitions will wonder how fast an upper thigh can lose size.
(9) Reality has shown that with the necessary knowledge, discipline, ambition, and willpower a considerable amount of the strength and muscle mass built up by the steroids can be maintained. Apart from the year-round steroid intake, a successful over bridging interval between the various treatments is the only way to achieve continuous improvements. Certainly, often it is necessary to go one step back in order to make two steps forward. This is absolutely normal and nothing is said against it. What many, however, do is go two steps back and move two steps forward so that their performance is stagnant. Almost everyone knows how to build up with steroids but only very few are able to maintain the results. Correctly interrupting the steroid regime in combination with a sensible interval of over bridging helps maintain results and creates the basis for a further, successful steroid regime.