Disclaimer: Bryan Haycock does not condone nor recommend that anyone use anabolic-androgenic steroids (AAS) or other hormones and prohormones (PH). This discussion is for informational purposes only. SD allows microtrauma to happen at lighter loads. You need to progressively increment the load to accomodate the Repeated Bout Effect, i.e. continue to induce microtrauma. Microtrauma allows IGF-1 inside the damaged musclefibers to leak out into the interstitial space and act on satellitte cells. These satellitte cells lie dormant until stimulated by IGF-1 into proliferating (reproduce) and differentiate (become muscle cells). When they "melt" together with muscle cells, they donate their myonuclei - thus increasing the total number in the cell. There exists a specific ratio between number of myonuclei and the (potential) volume of the muscle, so this chain of events eventually lead to a larger muscle. So, microtrauma - IGF-1 acting on satellite cells - donating myonuclei to muscle cell - muscle cell growing. AAS stimulate satellitte cell activity independently of microtrauma, so neither the "reset" function of SD nor the need to cause microtrauma each and every workout is a necessity to grow. Testosterone has the following effects on muscle tissue: * Enhanced growth factor activity (e.g. GH, IGF-1, etc.) * Enhanced activation of myogenic stem cells (i.e. satellite cells) * Enhanced myonuclear number (to maintain nuclear to cytoplasmic ratio) * Enhanced protein synthesis * Enhanced new myofiber formation So you can easily see why testosterone is an incredible anabolic hormone in muscle tissue. It tips the scales in every beneficial way towards muscle hypertrophy. To put it in a very simple way, if there are no side effects using a prohormone, it doesn't work. Because, if there are no androgenic side effects, the compound is not working on the androgen receptor. Since there is only 1 androgen receptor in the body to do all the variety of things androgens do in various tissues, if you don't see signs of androgen activity in other parts of the body, you aren't getting it in your muscles either. All the ad copy about "no side effects" is marketing dribble. Now I never said that these were "serious" or "dangerous" side effects. Did you know that birth control pills are steroids? Asthma in children is treated with steroids. These have the same if not worse side effects than testosterone. Here is a quote from the Myo Health Clinic: "Intramuscular testosterone injections (testosterone cypionate and testosterone enanthate) are effective, safe and inexpensive." Now, I'm not arguing with the opposition to use steroids either. Not everybody is interested in using hormones to improve their body. The best time to take the any androgen is just “before” the heaviest portion of your cycle. A number of things are going to happen when you go off. If not countered they will cause you to lose much of what you gained. Of primary concern is the load with which you are using to train when you go off. What often happens is that guys will max out their strength while "on" by pushing low rep weights as heavy as they can possibly go. Then when they go off, they are forced to drop the weight because their strength and exercise tolerance goes down. This creates an environment of both "low testosterone" AND "decreasing weight loads". So, there are two possible remedies. 1) Don't increase the weight loads just because the androgens are making you stronger. Instead, just increase the reps. So where you were doing 5 reps with a given weight before you started taking some AAS/PH, now you can do 8 or even 10 reps with that same weight now that you are "on". Then when you go off, you simply drop the number of reps, NOT the weight. 2) Train in the rep range just before your most heavy weights in an HST cycle. So, if you are doing a 2-on/4-off cycle, begin using it during the last week of 10s and continue into the first week of 5s. Then when you go off, you will begin the second week of 5s with the weight actually getting heavier for at least a week, and then maintained for an additional 2 weeks. So when you go off the weights are actually getting heavier. It's the timing that is important. You would want the 2 weeks "on" to happen during the second week of 10s and the 1st week of 5s. The only thing you are trying to accomplish by timing it that way is to have an increase in training load at the same time you are going "off" to offset the effects of low test during that 3-4 week period. So, you will at least be increasing the weight for 1 week and at the very least, maintaining the training load at 5RM for an additional 2 weeks. This will help you retain the gains you made. Obviously this doesn't turn out to be exactly 2-on/4-off. Diet (protein and calories) is going to be probably the most important factor in predicting whether or not you experience gains while using androgens. Training is of course important, but the proper drug regimen and diet is really what determines how big you get. You can train like crap and still grow if your diet and androgens are right. "However, Bryan wouldn't one need to taking into account the half lives of the androgen, and in fact the general serum blood levels through one's lifting cycle? For example, dbol's average life is 4 hours, while I believe Cyp is more like 15 days." Well, not with respect to Mag-10 or the other Diols. Their half lives are very short. They don't reside in the system more than a day in any "active" form. So, when your off, your off. Unlike something like Deca or Cyp, which will cause test suppression long after your last injection. So, as far as countering the catabolic effects of going "off" a prohormone, you still only have the weight load to counter the negative effects of low testosterone levels. You might be able to load creatine begining the first day off to counter the catabolism, but you will still experience some shrinking if you are big to begin with. 1) About SD while on a cycle: SD isn't necessary while "on" a cycle. If you are doing 10 weeks, your weights should stay heavy or be slightly increasing the entire cycle. Then, you shouldn't do SD until AFTER your natural test is back up to at least normal. This is very important. As long as test levels are low, you must continue to train uninterrupted. 2) Increased volume during a cycle: Yes, there is nothing "bad" about high volume. In fact, it is good if your exercise tolerance is high. When on increased androgens your exercise tolerence is higher, and you can train with higher volume, thereby increasing the time that the muscle is actually loaded, without risking overtraining (within reason). 3) Skip the SD and 15s. As long as you are injury free, you should train with heavier weights. There is no benefit to cycle the weight down while you are "on". The only benefit from cycling weight loads down is to increase the muscles sensitivity to being loaded, and to heal injuries. While androgens are high, the muscle remains sensitive to consistant/constant loading much much longer. If you are injury free, there's no need to stop to heal. Now, if you were going to embark on a cycle lasting several "years" in order to begin competing at a high level, you would want to cycle weights and do some SD in typical HST fashion. When going on a cycle lasting for years, you would pretty much train as if you were natural, accept for taking advantage of increased work capacity and recovery ability. However, you would still benefit from the HST-type cycling of weight loads and SD, its just that the time frame for this cycling would be stretched out considerably. Guys Like Millard and Boris (click the HST tab above) have adjusted there training pretty much as I suggested above. They will start with 15s or 12s, and increase the weight each workout until they either hit their 5s, or stop because the weight is not safe to use anymore. Both Millard and Boris, independant from one another, found that they needed to stop increasing the weight beyond their 8 rep max for safety. They don't do SD, unless they go off completely for an extended period, and if they don't go "off" they only drop the weight back down to 15s if they get a strain injury or sore joints (elbows are very susceptible). The 15s seem to really work well for getting rid of tendon pain. Of course, the diet is paramount. Continued progress requires sufficient calories and protein. For those of you who don't know Millard, he is one LARGE man. He is a mean 260 off season. Hopefully he will show some pics soon so people can get over the notion that "nobody big uses HST". Millard made a very good comment about the lower reps that was also said by Boris Kleine (monster from Germany). That is, that HST seems to induce quite significant increases in strength all by itself, but when the hormonal mileu is optimized, strength goes through the roof. You have to be careful using such high poundages (600 deadlift, 572 incline bench is just plain heavy! ) These guys are getting so strong using HST style routines they have to hold back for safety. This in no way means that HST is not the best way to train, quite to oposite. But, safety is safety, and everyone has to use their head in the gym. HST is about principles, not blind adherence to somebody's predetermined workout. Anybody can use these proven principles to start growing again...no matter what their current level of development.