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⫸STICKY⫷ ⫸Why You Should NOT Frontload⫷

CFC

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This is taken from a post I made on another thread, but really I should stick it in its own thread...

***

Why you should never frontload ('kickstart') a cycle



Homeostasis

Basically, all bodybuilders are in a battle against homeostasis. We try to overcome the body's tendency to not gain mass by eating more food, training more frequently or harder, taking more supplements, and so on. The idea being that more of [whatever] sends a stronger message for protein synthesis. Let's call all these compounds and techniques 'growth factors'.

Well eventually, as we all know, these growth factors stop working. We ramp up the training intensity, take more creatine and so on, but growth plateaus regardless. You may be on a bulk cramming down the burgers, but the body finds a way to overcome this and prevent the growth message getting through - probably by elevating myostatin levels, among other mechanisms.

At this point bodyfat may go up quickly, but LBM gain is closing in on zero net growth. So we have to take a break, usually shrink back a bit, and let the body get used to the absence of all these growth factors - creating a new 'normal' or set-point.

In the process myostatin and all the other inhibitory mechanisms drop back too - with a slight lag, hence the loss of mass. At this point, hopefully we're holding more mass than when we started the last bulking cycle, and now we're ready to go and repeat it all over again, in the hope of retaining even more at the end of it; rinse repeat; rinse repeat.

Steroids fit into this homeostatic cycle in exactly the same way as the other growth factors, albeit to a much higher degree. The growth benefit they confer is not an absolute factor. For instance 300mg of test doesn't build, say, 3 kg of muscle, nor does 600mg build 6kg. Steroids don't work like that.

Just like with increasing training intensity or food intake, it's the relative change compared to what you were doing or taking before that accounts for their benefit.

To make this obvious, let's think of a real-world scenario:
  • In this scenario, which could happen at any gym anywhere in the world, there are two good training buddies who we'll call 'Mark' and 'John'. Mark and John have both been training for years and have similar gym experience. They also have comparable genes for muscle-building, they're both about the same height and weight, and they both eat and train in roughly the same ways. And both of them have seen their growth rates steadily plateau over that time, to the point they're barely gaining any new mass now. So far, so normal.

  • To help him overcome this plateau, Mark does some research, plans a 16-week AAS cycle, and starts using AAS at 500mg/wk. John isn't yet convinced though, and decides to stay natural.

  • Mark makes great gains initially, but after 8 weeks his growth has plateaued again. So he consults with others and decides to increase his dose of test by another 500mg (to 1g/wk) for the final 8 weeks of his cycle - a pretty common reaction in situations like this.

  • The result? Mark brakes through his plateau and begins to experience new growth - just what we want and what we would expect from that increase in AAS.

  • Having seen Mark grow so quickly over those first 8 weeks, John's also now convinced to do an AAS cycle. And on the same day Mark increases his dose of AAS by 500mg, John decides to start taking 500mg test/wk (for an 8 week cycle).

  • In other words, in response to hitting a plateau, they both did exactly the same thing by putting an extra 500mg/wk of testosterone into their bodies for the next 8 weeks.

  • However, all other things being equal, who do you think's going to gain the most from that extra 500mg over the next 8 weeks?

  • No prizes for guessing John!

Why?

Thinking about real world scenarios like that, what they make obvious is that the growth of muscle does not correspond to absolute doses (ie: the total amount) of AAS used, and certainly not in a linear fashion. Rather, muscle grows more rapidly in response to greater relative increases in AAS levels (ie: greater % increases in dose).

Thus, having been natural for the first 8 weeks of Mark's cycle, John's now experiencing an increase in his testosterone levels of many times what he was producing naturally - perhaps as much as 1000-1500%, after accounting for ester weight and bioavailability of the injected testosterone (average natural test levels for a healthy 25yr male being around 20-40mg/wk).

Meanwhile Mark, because he'd already been taking 500mg/wk, only raised his testosterone level by a comparatively modest 100% when he added another 500mg/wk. For Mark to even have a chance at comparable gains to John over the next 8 weeks, he'd probably need to add something like 4-5000mg/wk (!), which would be a relatively similar increase in dose.

The Flawed Logic of Frontloading

Now I ask anyone, if you intend to frontload your cycle with - say - 1000mg of testosterone for a few weeks (or an oral like dbol or any other steroid) how the fuck do you plan on creating much relative change/increase after? You're starting out so high, the only way up is through the stratosphere. And since it's only a frontload, your serum levels will probably start to decline after peaking in the first month, just when homeostasis really starts to kick your ass!

So fine, you'll bloat up quickly (and watery) at first and it will look like an amazing idea because the changes come on fast and you'll leave Mr Tortoise behind. But good luck if you thought those bloated 10lbs were solid real muscle. And good luck maintaining that pace of growth for a full 8-12 weeks cycle while your testosterone levels flatten out or even decline. This is another reason many cycles stop being productive after about 4-6 weeks or so - you force the body's homeostatic mechanisms to kick in so quickly and so hard by frontloading that you're setting yourself up to fail your targets right from the start.

Meanwhile Mr Tortoise, who started out very low and whose gains were comparatively slow but - because he's kept upping the dose somewhat exponentially - are steady and continuous, soon overtakes you despite still being on less AAS, all the while staying harder and drier and never once resembling the watery Pufferfish you became thanks to your ego-bloating need to frontload for some insta-gainz.

Which is why frontloading must logically be one of the most retarded bodybuilding practices we know of.

By boosting AAS levels up to a peak within the first weeks, you are literally killing off your future growth potential. You're wasting your most effective tool for growth (relative change) by throwing it all in at the start. And you're deluding yourself that the rapid changes you see are real keepable gains post-cycle. Instead, for most average guys, your muscles will likely deflate almost as quickly as they grew, like a burst balloon, causing such a depression that you'll be at risk of going back on cycle and never coming off again for many years. And sadly that's one of the more predictable mental outcomes of this physical sport.

What Does This Mean For The Average Bodybuilder?

Since we can anticipate the increasingly negative impact of homeostasis on the growth stimulus provided by AAS over time, the most effective strategy for overcoming it is to plan continuous relative increases in dose throughout your cycle. This will ensure that your physiology is under constant challenge and isn't given a chance to fully adapt, as it more easily does when presented with steady-state levels of AAS. Thus, ideally, you want to be tapering your AAS doses from the lowest effective dose that stimulates growth so that you can prolong your up-tapering as long as possible.

Reveal Side note...:
Bear in mind that even on a regular (non-tapered) cycle, when you're using longer-acting esters like enanthate, cypionate or decanoate, for the first 4-6 weeks a certain degree of natural tapering occurs, since AAS with longer esters take a while to fully release from their injection sites, leading to a cumulative increase in serum levels for a time. Which is accidentally fortuitous. But it's another partial explanation for why gains tend to slow for so many after the 4-6 week mark, as the relative % increase in blood serum levels begins to plateau.


What's The 'Lowest' Effective Dose?

AAS-using bodybuilders, often ones who've only been cycling for a year or two, plus the various pseudo-gurus who've been reading forums for a while and talk like they know a thing, but also even many experienced guys, will often rather patronisingly argue with me about what the "lowest" effective dose of AAS is to achieve worthwhile muscle growth. They will often dismiss my modest starting doses and tapering recommendations as stupid, without ever actually having tried either approach. And they will generally argue, quite dogmatically, that anything less than around 500mg/wk of testosterone enanthate (for example), plus a frontload, is essentially 'homeopathic' and a "waste" of gear. And they'll feel reassured doing so because that's exactly the same kind of bland, uncritical dosing advice that you'll find copy-pasta'd on practically every other forum. And, in a way, I don't blame them since if that's the way it's always been done, then surely it must be based on experience and facts, right?

Well actually, no, it's not. It's completely illogical, and there's no excuse for regurgitating that same unoriginal advice to noobs just because it became dogma.

Let's think about it: as I already pointed out, 500mg of test/wk is about 1000-1500% more test than most men produce naturally, an astonishing amount! And yet most are telling noobs that anything less than that - less than the test levels of 10-15 fully grown men combined - would be effectively pointless for muscle gains?

Well I'm sorry, but that's inexcusably stupid, and I should think it would be obvious. Furthermore, I challenge anyone to argue this point with, for example, a true natural bodybuilder. You go tell them that even a modest percentage increase of - say - 15-20% in natural test levels will have no impact on their ability to add muscle. Good luck with that! The fact is, even a small boost to your natural hormone levels of only 40-80mg (net) still represents a massive relative increase of 100-200% when you first start your cycle. And if natural bodybuilders can quickly gain several pounds with more modest increases than that, so can any AAS-using bodybuilder. Of course, exogenous test will shut down natural production for an AAS-user after a few weeks, negating the relative increase. But because you're going to be constantly ramping up your dose from week to week, you'll more than compensate for that.

So, with all that in mind, it should be pretty obvious by now that an effective starting dose can be as little as just 50-75mg of test in week one. And starting low is doubly critical if your intention is - and it should be - to devise a cycle that permits the greatest continuous relative increase in AAS levels as possible, while still endeavouring to keep serum levels within a somewhat 'healthy' (*cough*) range towards the end of the cycle.

In Conclusion

The clever approach to cycling - and indeed bodybuilding in general, given our battle with homeostasis - is to always be 'confusing' the body (and overcoming inhibitors like myostatin) by upping whatever variable you're playing with - be it food intake, training intensity, supplements or AAS - from the lowest effective dose or starting point.

Thus, I advise guys to do the complete opposite of frontloading. Start your cycle on a dose that's barely above natural levels, so you can then spend the next 8-12-16+ weeks continuously increasing it, achieving solid relative increases in serum levels, while avoiding many of the negative side-effects that the prolonged use of very high doses cause.

This should be commonsense, even on the most anecdotal level and to the most novice trainee - after all, we all know our bodies plateau sometime after we make a change. So to be constantly changing (periodising) and tapering up various compounds and strategies from their lowest effective level is self-evidently the most efficient - and healthy - way to build muscle.

But I recommend this approach as much to highly experienced bodybuilders as I do noobs. Just because you've been taking AAS for years, it doesn't cause some magical reaction whereby you suddenly need 20 x the dose of a noob to hold mass. That's delusional bullshit. If you feel you need that much, it's probably because you never truly let your body return to anything like a normal physiological hormonal level.

In the long run, all that does is shift the level at which your homeostatic mechanisms kick in to far above baseline, forcing you to keep AAS levels above what you'd need if you were just prepared to drop down for a while and risk losing a few pounds. It may not feel this way, but over time your body will adjust and become comfortable holding far more mass than you think. And unless you literally are a professional competitive bodybuilder (ie: barely anyone), you should absolutely be trying to drop down to truly physiological test levels for a good portion of every year for your continuing health and longevity.
 
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white55

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What is your opinion on many very short cycles of fast acting strong compounds at relatively high doses? Homeostasis is avoided but the high doses and compounds necessary are likely to produce more side effects and very short cycles might be too short for muscle mass to grow since it takes time from the genes necessary being activated and for muscle cell hypertrophy since all of the processes involved take time (sattelite cells multiplying, fusing with the muscle fibers and protein syntheses to happen.
 

CFC

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I think short blast cycles like that are a solution to a problem that doesn't exist.

You're already basically maxing out your growth potential at the start of a cycle given the relative change even a small increase in natural hormone levels brings.

It serves no purpose at all to then go and triple that already highly effective dose for the sake of some more bloat and negative sides. Let's say you manage to put on an extra 4-5lbs in the first 2 weeks with that blast approach - it's highly unlikely any of that is actually functional muscle tissue that will be retained afterwards.

However short low-dose cycles, those make sense and do work very effectively for anyone not wishing to experience too much shut-down or sides but to attain some decently sustainable, incremental gains.
 

white55

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I think short blast cycles like that are a solution to a problem that doesn't exist.

You're already basically maxing out your growth potential at the start of a cycle given the relative change even a small increase in natural hormone levels brings.

It serves no purpose at all to then go and triple that already highly effective dose for the sake of some more bloat and negative sides. Let's say you manage to put on an extra 4-5lbs in the first 2 weeks with that blast approach - it's highly unlikely any of that is actually functional muscle tissue that will be retained afterwards.

However short low-dose cycles, those make sense and do work very effectively for anyone not wishing to experience too much shut-down or sides but to attain some decently sustainable, incremental gains.
Good response, although I have to apologize for not wording my question in the best way. Relatively high doses meant doses that while being on the high side (so not going from 500 mg test to 1.5g but to 750 mg or where ever your personal tipping point is since not all people respond the same to the the same doses) are still not at the level that just causes more side effects and bloat without any real increase in muscle growth (with the exception of strength athletes where the cut off is at the point where you are just causing more and more side effects with no real performance improvements.... if that means extra bloat that isn't desirable in body building then so be it.... especially since bloat has slight effects on your lifts that are unrelated to muscle growth or better nervous system utilization of the muscle already present).
 

InfectedWithDrugs

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So... Should I been titrating Clomid? I went from Total T of 260 to 750 in a week and then added Anastrozole and reached 1000-1200, which is where it stayed since... Did I also screw up my progress? I am cutting, not bulking...
 

CFC

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If you're cutting, your aim is really just to support the balance of protein synthesis (nitrogen retention) to keep it positive, which doesn't need a lot. You're not going to gain serious muscle either way. However from your other posts my understanding was that below 1000 your mood/sense of wellbeing became poor, therefore maintaining that would be my primary focus.
 

InfectedWithDrugs

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Serious muscle can be gained even by women. Eventually, I want to look like Hugh Jackman in Wolverine or the dude in Spartacus. I doubt steroids are even necessary to get that big. Christian Bale got huge from Machinist to Batman in like 4-6 months without AAS. 1200ng/dL is probably top 1 percent of men. Then again, people lie...
 

CFC

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Sorry reading what I wrote the way you have makes it look like an insult lol. What I meant was that serious muscle isn't going to be gained on a cut. I'm sure you can attain your ideal body, certainly.
 

InfectedWithDrugs

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It's not possible to gain muscle on a cut unless you've never hit the gym before and even then the growth will stop after a month once caloric deficit kicks in.
 

Intense

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Serious muscle can be gained even by women. Eventually, I want to look like Hugh Jackman in Wolverine or the dude in Spartacus. I doubt steroids are even necessary to get that big. Christian Bale got huge from Machinist to Batman in like 4-6 months without AAS. 1200ng/dL is probably top 1 percent of men. Then again, people lie...
You don't think hugh and bale used aas?..


It's not possible to gain muscle on a cut unless you've never hit the gym before and even then the growth will stop after a month once caloric deficit kicks in.

Depends on genetics. Kevin Levrone can do it. I would guess 95% of the population can not to the degree he can though, it's pretty shocking.
 

CFC

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In a way I wish we didn't have pro-bodybuilders. They are so far off the chart, genetically speaking, and as close to being physically 'superhuman' that comparisons to the rest of us are pointless and completely misleading.

One reason I think AAS doses are so high is the mistaken belief that their achievements are just a result of AAS, rather than the combination with their exceptional genetics.

Academically, it's like comparing Einstein or Hawking to the average Uni student and expecting similar results from reading the same papers.
 

jr77

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In a way I wish we didn't have pro-bodybuilders. They are so far off the chart, genetically speaking, and as close to being physically 'superhuman' that comparisons to the rest of us are pointless and completely misleading.

One reason I think AAS doses are so high is the mistaken belief that their achievements are just a result of AAS, rather than the combination with their exceptional genetics.

Academically, it's like comparing Einstein or Hawking to the average Uni student and expecting similar results from reading the same papers.
True. I also believe they can put everything they have in to lifting, essentially it is their religion. They live in the gym.
I enjoy my family too much for that.
 

Intense

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True. I also believe they can put everything they have in to lifting, essentially it is their religion. They live in the gym.
I enjoy my family too much for that.

Well for the bodybuilders who do it for a living 2 hrs in the gym a day verses 8-10 at a office job. You actually get more time with your kids if you choose to.
 

white55

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In a way I wish we didn't have pro-bodybuilders. They are so far off the chart, genetically speaking, and as close to being physically 'superhuman' that comparisons to the rest of us are pointless and completely misleading.

One reason I think AAS doses are so high is the mistaken belief that their achievements are just a result of AAS, rather than the combination with their exceptional genetics.

Academically, it's like comparing Einstein or Hawking to the average Uni student and expecting similar results from reading the same papers.
Or pro strongmen / powerlifters / oly lifters. I could take all the AAS in the world and not do an olympic press with 230 kg. :(
 

InfectedWithDrugs

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Yeah there is so much more to good genes for BB than high T levels. I thought high healthy T levels would make me Superman, but it simply made progress quicker by 50 percent or so. Strength went up, endurance, energy, but fat loss / muscle gain is still at 1lbs per week and strict diet also needed, counting every single calorie.

The biggest advantage of T for me was becoming a much more confident man, which helped in the dating scene dramatically. More T = more Alpha.
 

Beefcastleomega

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If you want your cycle to kick off fast pin test p along side test e for about 14 days. The test p will hit you in a couple days an work until you stop taking it. You stop taking it at the 2 week mark because that's when the test e has saturated your blood. There will be a little overlap of high test levels but that not a big deal. You won't even notice that. So let's say 350 mg a week TP for 14 days and 500mg a week of TE your entire cycle. Those numbers are just an example, you do what you do. This is how I've always known it to be done.

Front loading 2 grams of test makes zero sense like OP said. That is putting your body through some serious hormone changes for no reason. And you couldn't adjust anti e quick enough if you are sensitive to gyno.

To me, they are both foolish. Just let the hormones work at the rate they were designed to work. With gear, slow and steady wins the race. Being consistent in this order will get you results... Eating, lifting, supplements (all supplements, gear and protein shakes and so on).

Take gear in a rush and your gains will rush right out alongside your pct
 

Genetic Freak

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If you want your cycle to kick off fast pin test p along side test e for about 14 days. The test p will hit you in a couple days an work until you stop taking it. You stop taking it at the 2 week mark because that's when the test e has saturated your blood. There will be a little overlap of high test levels but that not a big deal. You won't even notice that. So let's say 350 mg a week TP for 14 days and 500mg a week of TE your entire cycle. Those numbers are just an example, you do what you do. This is how I've always known it to be done.
Have you not read the OP, it quite clearly explains why frontloading is retarded..
 
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