In the guide on prohormones, it was mentioned that they tend to slow down the body’s natural production of testosterone. As well, they can be a little hard on the liver. Furthermore, even though your body is not producing as much test, the prohormone you’re using is. So, towards the end of a typical 4-6 week cycle what do we have? Well, you will have gained considerable muscle and strength from the anabolic actions of the prohormone, while typical male characteristics such as sex drive will vary depending on the strength of the product. As well, you’re at the end of your cycle and you’re really pleased with your results, so what now? This is where many users have problems. Newer trainees or prohormone users in particular tend to run a cycle of a strong prohormone, maybe even a stack but once the cycle ends you may think everything is great and you can just continue to train as usual and maybe even add to your gains. However, after a cycle is discontinued, the prohormone will quickly leave the body, usually in a few days. At this point, you can no longer rely on its anabolic effects. So you may think your own natural production of testosterone will carry on despite the absence of the prohormone? Wrong. Remember, during a cycle your body will gradually shut down production of its own testosterone to try to maintain what it considers a normal hormonal state. Remember, the body always tries to maintain a normal, balanced state ( this is called homeostasis) – this is one reason training routines, for example, only work for so long – your body adjusts. The same thing happens when you use prohormones – your body adjusts by slowing its own test production.
Now, the stronger the prohormone you’ve taken and the longer your cycle, the greater the degree to which your natural test levels will have slowed to the point that when you come off the cycle your test levels are very low, as stated above. At the same time, estrogen (the primary female hormone) levels tend to rise in response to low testosterone, so post cycle you are not in a great place for building or even hanging on to muscle size. Instead you are at a point where you could lose size, strength, gain fat, and, if you do not take the proper steps, the excess estrogen could even cause gynecomastia, or man boobs (also called “bitch tits”). Yes, these are all potential estrogen effects! So we have a need to get our own test levels back up again and to block the release of excess estrogen.
That’s not all (as if that’s not enough!). During a cycle, levels of the catabolic hormone cortisol (referred to as the stress hormone because it’s often released in response to stress and one reason training sessions of about an hour are advocated – much longer and you have to deal with the catabolic effects of cortisol) are reduced, but once the cycle ends, levels of cortisol slowly rise, usually after about a week or so. This rise in cortisol levels will cause you to lose muscle and strength as well as cause you to gain body-fat.
So we see that our new user is in a very bad position of having low testosterone, high estrogen, and high cortisol levels. This is where anti estrogen and pct’s come in.
So, after all that, anti- estrogen and pct supplements are a class of supplements that combat the negative effects of a typical prohormone cycle, bringing your body back to normal again once the cycle is over and allowing you to hang on to most of your gains.
At this point, it may be useful to take a brief look at both testosterone and estrogen so we can better understand the role of each in the body: Testosterone is a steroid hormone from the androgen group and is primarily secreted in the testes of males and the ovaries of females, although small amounts are also secreted by the adrenal glands. It is the principal male sex hormone and one of the body’s primary anabolic hormones. In men, testosterone plays a key role in the development of male reproductive tissues such as the testis and prostate as well as promoting secondary sexual characteristics such as increased muscle, bone mass and the growth of body-hair. On average, an adult human male body produces about ten times more testosterone than an adult human female body.
Estrogen is a hormone that comprises a group of compounds, including estrone, estradiol and estriol. It is the main sex hormone in women and is essential to the menstrual cycle. Although estrogen exists in men as well as women, it is found in higher amounts in women, especially those capable of reproducing. Estrogen contributes to the development of secondary sex characteristics, which are the defining differences between men and women that don’t relate to the reproductive system. In women, these characteristics include breasts, a widened pelvis, and increased amounts of body fat in the buttock, thigh and hip region. Estrogen also contributes to the fact that women have less facial hair and smoother skin then men. Both sexes produce test and estrogen, in men excessive levels can cause undesirable effects such as breast growth as just one example. So with this brief overview we have a better understanding of the role of each and we now understand the importance of anti estrogens and post cycle therapy.
- To minimize the negative effects of prohormones both on cycle and post cycle.
So it’s probably become obvious that using prohormones can be a costly experience – you have to think about the additional products required for best results both in cycle and post cycle. While you have specific products for these purposes, the cost will add up. Of course, it’s a personal choice and to many, the price is worth it, but the key is an understanding of what you’re doing to maximize results.
As with the prohormone category, this is a small category with very specific product functions. Almost everything is in capsule form, allowing for quick digestion – capsules will bring down much faster than tablets because much less is required to make the capsule. This also means there are fewer “additional ingredients”.
In cycle: there are some products available that are taken during a cycle and provide liver support and overall system well being.
Anti estrogen: these products are specifically estrogen blockers, designed to prevent an excess of estrogen in the body.
PCT’s: this group will not only contain estrogen blockers but will also contain test boosters – such as zinc or tribulus to help get test levels back to normal, and may contain liver support as well.
Each product will have very specific instructions regarding dosage, timing of the dosage suggested and when to use – during a cycle and after a cycle, and for how long after the cycle has ended – these are very important, critical considerations. Length of use after a cycle is especially important – it takes some time to get test levels back to normal again. This is, maybe more so than most other products, one category where label directions must be followed! This is also an area where you must plan out your approach! In each case, user reviews can help, also understanding how the body functions can help as well. In my mind understanding your own hormones and how they relate to muscle building is a priority.