Bodybuilders and many other athletes often turn to cycles of performance-enhancing drugs to help them reach new heights in their physique and performance.
Performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs), such as anabolic-androgenic steroids, are capable of pushing the body and muscles beyond their natural limits.
But when you start taking anabolic androgenic steroids, they will suppress the body's natural hormonal production. Post cycle therapy is going to help restore hormonal balance effectively.
Individuals who are currently using or considering PEDs need to educate themselves on post cycle therapy, a necessary protocol that should not be overlooked.
Continue reading as we take you through our in-depth post cycle therapy guide and answer any questions or concerns you may have regarding this protocol.
What Is Post Cycle Therapy?
Post cycle therapy, commonly called PCT, is a protocol used by individuals after completing a cycle of anabolic-androgenic steroids (AAS). The primary function of PCT is to restore the body's natural hormone balance, particularly testosterone production, which is immediately suppressed during steroid use.
What happens is that from the moment you start taking performance-enhancing drugs, your natural hormone production shuts down. That means that your body won't be producing testosterone for the duration of the cycle, as it's getting that from an outside source.
After your cycle is finished, your body will no longer be getting external testosterone, thus having to restart its own hormonal production. It's incredibly challenging for your body to restart this process by itself, and therefore it needs a helping hand, which is the post cycle therapy protocol.
A good PCT consists of specific compounds that help quickly restore your body's hormone production. That will help your hormones bounce back a lot faster than naturally.
When To Start Post Cycle Therapy
Knowing when to start your post cycle therapy is essential, as you want to make sure the timing is right. When to start depends on what kind of performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs) you've been running.
The three most common PEDs you'll come across are anabolic-androgenic steroids (AAS), selective androgen receptor modulators (SARMs), and prohormones. Every compound has its own half-life and ester length, meaning each drug clears out of the system at a different rate.
Here's a guideline of when to start post cycle therapy for each group of PEDs.
|Compound||When To Start|
Anabolic-androgenic Steroids (AAS)
One week after final dosage
One day after last dosage
Selective androgen receptor modulators (SARMs)
One day after last dosage
You can see that a PCT must be started relatively soon after the cycle is finished. This is extremely important because as soon as you stop taking PEDs, your body is no longer receiving external hormones and will have to restart its own production.
That's why you must always have a good post cycle therapy planned out and available.
How Long Should Post Cycle Therapy Last
Post cycle therapy typically lasts between four to six weeks, depending on the individual and situation. Of course, it can always be extended by several weeks if needed.
But, this all is going to depend on several factors, such as what PEDs have been used, the dosages, and the duration of use. Shorter cycles or those with milder compounds may require a shorter PCT of around four weeks. In contrast, longer cycles or those with more potent compounds may necessitate a longer PCT, potentially extending up to 6 weeks or longer.
Post cycle therapy must be long enough to ensure the body's natural hormone levels are fully restored. Remember that how fast hormones bounce back will be different for everyone.
That's why many individuals advise you to prepare PCT and ensure you have plenty on hand in case it has to be extended.
The Different Post Cycle Therapy Protocols
Now that you know the mechanism and importance of post cycle therapy, it's time we look at the different protocols. Which protocol an individual should use can vary depending on the specific needs of the individual and the substances used during the cycle.
Each protocol has its advantages and disadvantages, and they vary in potency. There isn't a one-size-fits-all answer for what one should use.
The most commonly used PCT protocols involve Selective Estrogen Receptor Modulators (SERMs) and over the counter (OTC) post cycle therapy supplements. Here's an overview of each:
Selective Estrogen Receptor Modulators (SERMs)
Selective estrogen receptor modulators (SERMs) are commonly used in post cycle therapy (PCT) protocols to help restore natural testosterone production rapidly and effectively.
SERMs are a class of compounds that act on the estrogen receptors in the body in a selective manner. They work by binding to estrogen receptors, thereby blocking the effects of estrogen in the body, which is elevated post cycle.
This stimulates the hypothalamus and pituitary gland to release more follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH), leading to increased testosterone production. There are multiple prescription SERMs out there, but we will be going over the two most common compounds.
Clomid, or Clomiphene, is a Selective Estrogen Receptor Modulator (SERM) and is considered by many to be the most potent and aggressive compound for PCT.
Anabolic steroids can suppress the body's testosterone production, leading to various issues. Clomid stimulates the release of hormones like luteinizing and follicle-stimulating hormones, which signal the testes to produce more testosterone.
This helps restore natural hormone levels, prevent testicular atrophy, and minimize estrogenic side effects. Due to its potency, it works very rapidly, and it's often only used by individuals who are trying to bounce back from heavy hormonal suppression after prolonged steroid use.
Nolvadex, also known as Tamoxifen, is a Selective Estrogen Receptor Modulator (SERM) utilized in post cycle therapy. It selectively binds to estrogen receptors in specific tissues.
By doing so, it competes with estrogen for receptor binding, effectively blocking the effects of excess estrogen in the body. This helps prevent or alleviate estrogen-related side effects and aids in restoring the body's natural testosterone production.
It's said to be milder compared to Nolvadex, but many anecdotal experiences back up that it is still an extremely effective option.
Post Cycle Therapy Supplements
Many individuals turn to post cycle therapy supplements as a way of recovering from their cycle. These supplements contain a combination of potent, natural ingredients that'll help support testosterone production and reduce estrogen.
Unlike SERMs, post cycle therapy supplements are available over the counter and do not require a prescription. This means they're much more accessible, as you can order them online and start taking them quickly.
There are a lot of different PCT supplements on the market, but you'll need to get your hands on something that includes a wide variety of effective ingredients.
Rebirth PCT has become the most popular and best post cycle therapy supplement. We developed it to be fast-acting and highly effective, which is why we've included a total of 11 different potent ingredients.
Besides a wide variety of ingredients, you'll also find that every one of those ingredients in this formula is dosed optimally.
Of course, since it's an over-the-counter supplement, it won't deliver the same effects as the compounds mentioned above. That is to be expected, but all these natural compounds found in Rebirth PCT will work synergetically to help maximize hormonal production after you've finished a cycle.
Plus, it's very easy and straightforward to use. Take one serving of six capsules daily for four to six weeks, and you'll notice improvements. It's also good to know that a product like Rebirth can be stacked with SERMs to maximize recovery from multiple angles.
What To Expect During Post Cycle Therapy
During post-cycle therapy (PCT), individuals who have used anabolic steroids or similar substances can expect several physical and emotional changes. These changes result from the body's attempt to restore its natural testosterone production after the disruption caused by the steroid cycle.
Testosterone affects many vital processes, such as energy, mood, libido, and muscle mass. So, if your levels fluctuate drastically, you'll notice it in your daily life. You could experience fatigue, low libido, mood swings, and other potential symptoms.
It can be a challenging and uncomfortable process for some individuals. You may not feel your best during this period, but it's necessary to ensure you recover properly. However, always remember that these are temporary side effects, and the further into the post cycle therapy, the better you'll start to feel as your hormones begin to bounce back.
Continue reading as we show you several crucial things you should do during PCT.
Things You Should Do During Post Cycle Therapy
Besides running a post cycle therapy, you want to ensure you're doing everything you can to maximize your recovery and hold onto your progress. Here are several things you can follow to optimize recovery from all angles.
Focus On Nutrition
Nutrition plays a key role during post cycle therapy. A diet rich in essential nutrients can help support hormonal balance and overall health. Adequate protein intake is necessary to preserve muscle mass, while a balanced intake of carbohydrates and healthy fats will support overall energy levels and metabolic health.
Aim to eat various nutrient-dense foods and stay hydrated throughout the day. Nutrition is extremely important and will contribute to an optimal recovery process.
Keep Training Consistently
Always make sure to keep training during PCT. Continuing to train helps maintain muscle gains, encourages the natural rebalancing of hormones, and assists in psychological well-being. Exercise stimulates natural testosterone production.
While volume may need adjustment to match the body's recovery ability, training with intensity ensures that exercise's physical and mental benefits continue contributing to overall health.
Prioritize Rest And Recovery
The importance of rest and recovery should not be overlooked. Sleep is when the majority of recovery and hormonal regulation occurs, including testosterone and growth hormone production.
Aiming for 7 to 9 hours of quality sleep per night is vital. Poor sleep can significantly hinder the body's ability to recover and should be addressed with as much importance as diet and exercise.
Minimizing stress is also crucial because stress elevates cortisol levels, a hormone that can impede the body's ability to restore natural testosterone production.
High cortisol may also diminish the effectiveness of PCT medications and strategies aimed at rebalancing hormones. Additionally, stress can weaken the immune system, hamper quality sleep, and negatively impact mood and well-being, all things you want to avoid.
Frequently Asked Questions About PCT
Should I do bloodwork during PCT?
Yes, it is highly advisable to do bloodwork during this period. Bloodwork provides valuable information about your hormonal and overall health, allowing you to monitor the progress of your PCT and make any necessary adjustments.
What additional supplements should I take during PCT?
Taking additional supplements during after-cycle PCT is a great idea. A few examples of quality supplements are:
- Whey protein isolate (to help you hit your daily protein macros)
- Pre-workout (to help you get the most out of each training session)
- Multivitamin (to help ensure that your body has the essential nutrients it needs for overall health and recovery)
- Creatine (to help maintain lean muscle mass and support exercise performance during recovery)
Is post cycle therapy necessary?
Most people overlook the necessity of PCT as they don't fully understand the mechanism behind it. The truth is that running a post cycle therapy is an absolute must for every individual thinking about running a cycle of PEDs.
This suppression can lead to various undesirable side effects, such as decreased libido, lethargy, and loss of muscle gains. If you decide to skip it, it will take much longer for your body to recover naturally. The longer it takes, the more you risk losing your progress.
How can I tell if my PCT has been successful?
Determining the success of your PCT involves assessing several factors, including your physical and emotional well-being and, most importantly, the results of blood tests that measure hormone levels. Remember that the timeline for recovery can vary widely depending on various factors.
In conclusion, post cycle therapy (PCT) is an essential process for individuals who have engaged in PED use, aiming to restore the body's natural hormonal balance and mitigate the adverse effects of steroid use.
PCT protocols are developed to stimulate the body to resume the natural production of testosterone as effectively as possible. These protocols typically last four to six weeks and incorporate SERM-based compounds and over-the-counter post cycle therapy supplements.
The importance of PCT cannot be overstated, as the abrupt cessation of anabolic steroids can lead to significant hormonal and other health issues. It is a critical phase that requires as much planning and attention as the steroid cycle itself.
Overall, post-cycle therapy (PCT) is crucial to restore hormonal balance, maintain muscle mass, and retain strength gains.