How Long Does It Take for Anabolic Steroids to Work?

Benedict Ang, CPT, PN1-NC
Published by Benedict Ang, CPT, PN1-NC | Staff Writer & Senior Coach
Last updated: January 17, 2024
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My colleagues and I often educate our clients at the gym about steroid use and all the risks associated with them, but the topic continues to surface as they are still curious about them, and just recently, they were asking how long it actually takes for them to work.

I have compiled some of the research I’ve done over the years of my fitness career to give you the facts and caveats about the quick results of steroid use and the significant risks attached to those results.

Let’s begin.

Quick Summary

  • Anabolic steroids are estimated to take roughly six weeks to start working if regularly taken.
  • Anadrol, agovirin, dianabol, winstrol, and durabolin are commonly used anabolic steroids.
  • A study in the National Library of Medicine showed testosterone enanthate increased bench press strength and cycle sprint performance in three weeks for about 44% of participants.
  • I've observed that while steroids offer quick results, the potential health risks and side effects make them a questionable choice for long-term health and well-being.

How Long Does It Take for Anabolic Steroids to Work?

Different anabolic steroids supplement on a table

Anabolic steroids take about six weeks to show effects, but not from just one dose. Their speed depends on the steroid type, use, and dose.

A National Library of Medicine study found that testosterone enanthate boosted bench press strength and cycling performance in three weeks, with approximately 44% of participants experiencing these improvements [1].

User experiences and online research don't pinpoint an exact timeframe for steroid effectiveness. Some report effects within ten days; others take longer.

Steroids like Anadrol, Dianabol, and Winstrol act quicker, while Deca-Durabolin and Anavar may show slower results.

How Anabolic-Androgenic Steroids Work

A close up shot of anabolic steroids supplement

Steroids as performance-enhancing drugs are usually taken orally or by injection, and some well-known ones are:

Oral steroids


Once in your body, steroids travel to the muscles’ androgen receptors and stimulate the protein synthesis process, which promotes muscle growth [2]. This activity provides the user with massive gains and significant bulk.

Based on the Encyclopedia of Sports Medicine and Science, steroids can also block cortisol from binding to the muscles’ receptors which slows the breakdown process allowing for less muscle fatigue and quicker recovery [3].

What Are Anabolic Steroids and How Do They Work?

Anabolic steroids on top of a table

In the fitness realm, I've observed anabolic steroids, synthetic testosterone, significantly boosting muscle growth. Many I've met have seen swift gains, showing their effectiveness.

These steroids are widely used for muscle mass enhancement, with testosterone cypionate being a favorite for its impact on testosterone.

Athletes turn to them for increased muscle mass and strength. Their doses often exceed medical recommendations by 10-100 times.

What Do They Do to the Body?

A man taking an anabolic steroids supplement

The results gained from steroid use and the adverse side effects are significant. Steroids wreak havoc on your body both mentally and physically and can lead to the use of other drugs.

It is also important to note that drug testing can detect steroids for weeks after stopping because of the chemical composition of the steroid. The liver does not quickly metabolize or excrete it in the urine [4].


How Long Do Steroids Stay In Your System?

Side Effects

Steroid use can cause physical issues like reduced sperm count, baldness, testicular shrinkage, acne, and increased prostate cancer risk, as per WebMD [5]. Health risks include liver and kidney damage, high blood pressure, heart attacks, heart enlargement, and blood clots [6].

Psychologically, steroids can lead to irritability, anxiety, aggression ('roid rage), paranoia, mania, and mood swings [7].

Steroids don't cause a “high” like illicit drugs, but withdrawal can be similar.

Posts You May Like: Do Steroids Have to Be Injected Into Muscle

Common Steroid Practices

A top view of anabolic steroids

As a trainer, I've encountered clients experimenting with techniques like cycling, stacking, pyramiding, and plateauing to optimize their muscle-building results.

Here's how they work:

  • Cycling is when you take a steroid for a period of time, stop for a time, and then start again, with the typical cycle lasting eight to sixteen weeks, depending on the goals.
  • Stacking is combining multiple steroids, even mixing oral and injectable. Stacking, in conjunction with cycling, is standard practice.
  • Pyramiding is done by taking a low dose of the anabolic steroid (you can stack here also) and gradually increasing the amount until you reach a peak, and then you start tapering back down to zero. A pyramid cycle can take anywhere from six to twelve weeks.
  • Plateauing is when different steroids are substituted, overlapped, or staggered to avoid tolerance.

With unsupervised steroid use, wanton 'megadosing' or stacking (using a combination of different steroids), the effects can be irreversible or undetected until it's too late."

- Dr. Gary Wadler, M.D.

Natural Steroid Alternatives

A close up shot of anabolic steroids alternative

Several testosterone-boosting substances occur naturally, like vitamin D, zinc, ashwagandha, fenugreek, and d-aspartic acid, and supplements with these substances are becoming more mainstream, as per NCBI [8].

Natural testosterone boosters for men don’t come with such a great risk of severe side effects, and many are stacked and cycled similarly to steroids to achieve a particular fitness goal.

There are a lot of side effects of steroids; they are not good for you. It is like Russian roulette. Five people may take them and have no long-term problems. The sixth may end up dead."

- Dr. Kenneth Mautner, M.D.


How Long Do Testosterone Levels Take To Return to Normal after a Cycle?

After a steroid cycle, it can take testosterone an average of three to eighteen months to return to normal levels. You may be able to expedite the process by a post cycle therapy (PCT) protocol of Clomid PCT (clomiphene), Nolvadex PCT (tamoxifen), or a natural supplement.

Do Steroid Shots Work Immediately?

Steroid shots do not work immediately, but most begin working in a few days, some within a few hours.

How Do Anabolic Steroids Affect the Brain?

Anabolic steroids can affect the brain by causing mood swings, aggression, addiction risk, impaired judgment, altered neurotransmitters, cognitive effects, and hormonal imbalances.

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