As a personal trainer, I spend most of my days in the gym with clients and colleagues. And I’ve come to a stage where I can always tell when someone has been using anabolic steroids to develop more lean muscle mass.
The problem a typical steroid user will face is that the sudden increase will eventually disappear again as natural testosterone levels return.
But there are ways to maintain steroid gains, and I teamed up with a few colleagues to do some research into the scientific literature on maintaining those lean gains.
Here’s what we found.
- Many athletes use banned anabolic steroid drugs to boost their testosterone levels fast.
- These anabolic steroids increase muscle growth in a significant way and improve general performance levels.
- Maintaining the muscle gained after a very aggressive cycle can become a huge challenge when T-levels dip into the normal range.
How Do You Keep Your Gains After a Steroid Cycle?
You can help keep your gains after a steroid cycle by focusing on your training and diet.
These are two areas that can have an impact on growth hormone and natural test levels.
It’s a very similar approach to what athletes go through after a bulking phase, where they want to avoid losing muscle mass during a weight loss or cutting phase .
More on the detailed approach shortly.
However, athletes that have been taking huge doses of steroids could find it very difficult to maintain those strength gains without further off-cycle medication.
Related: Are Steroid Gains Permanent?
The Training Approach
It shouldn’t come as a surprise to readers that even athletes who are taking steroids have to go through a consistent training program to build lean muscle.
But studies have shown that increased training volume during a general weight loss phase can have a positive effect on maintaining that mass .
The other thing that will happen with increased workouts is that this will send signals to boost testosterone .
These might not be permanent increases, but when you achieve a small boost consistently, it can add up to better chances of avoiding muscle loss.
“Research has found that strength-training workouts may have a bigger effect on testosterone in the evening. As a result, the brief boost from your exercise session might be even bigger if you schedule it after work instead of early in the morning.”
- Stuart Bergman, MD at WebMD.com.
The Diet Approach
When you finish a bulking phase (with and without steroids), you still need to maintain a healthy and balanced diet.
Your calorie intake may go down, but there are a few foods that can influence a person’s hormones.
- Shellfish: Yes, there’s truth to the whole oyster theory and libido. Shellfish are rich in zinc, and this mineral has been linked to hormone production .
- Leafy Greens: Along with zinc, leafy greens also contain magnesium, and scientists have shown that this mineral directly influences testosterone .
- Eggs: Egg yolks contain a mineral called selenium, and research has shown that it plays a key role in testosterone production .
- Avocados: These also contain a good dose of magnesium, but there’s also some boron, which is another mineral that your body needs in order to maintain T-levels .
If all that careful planning of certain types of food seems like a bit of a pain, then that’s because it is.
Fortunately, there are supplements that you can take that will deliver micronutrients with a proven impact on the endocrine system and specifically testosterone.
More on these shortly.
Common Post-Cycle Therapy (PCT)
Unfortunately, many steroid users go from using one type of self-prescribed steroid to another one for a post cycle.
They may switch to a different, less potent drug or take a lower dose of what they have been taking.
I can only say this again: you should only take such drugs after receiving professional medical advice.
There is an alternative, though.
A proper PCT could include taking supplements with natural ingredients that impact the natural endocrine function.
These natural and legal steroid alternatives are typically marketed as testosterone boosters, and they rely on herbs, vitamins, and minerals to trigger a natural response in your body.
You can check our reviews on the best testosterone boosters on the market here:
Here are some ingredients you’d want to look out for:
- Zinc: One interesting study has shown that men with testosterone deficiency can significantly boost their serum levels with a regular daily zinc supplement .
- Vitamin D3: The so-called sunshine vitamin also plays a key role in sex hormone production, and a deficiency is quite common. A simple daily boost could then release a bottleneck in hormone production .
- Fenugreek Extract: This herbal extract has been used in traditional medicine for libido and fertility, and scientists have been able to link it to improved serum testosterone .
- D-Aspartic Acid: This is another effective ingredient to look out for, as studies have shown that it can have a direct positive impact on blood testosterone .
The good thing is that you don’t need to mix up your own formula, as there are supplements that contain them in the ideal dosage.
Are Gains From Steroids Permanent?
No, gains from steroids may not be permanent. In order to maintain those gains, you have to keep up with a training regimen and strict diet. And even then, it’s likely that you will see a reduction in mass. This isn't something of a concern—as long as you stay determined, you will keep these gains without the help of steroids after a while.
Will Your Testosterone Levels Return to Normal After Steroids?
Yes, your testosterone levels will return to normal after taking steroids. These drugs artificially increase T-levels rather than boost your natural production processes.
Take The Safe Approach to Maintain Gains
I don’t ever recommend taking performance-enhancing drugs like anabolic androgenic steroids, but there are ways in which you can boost your endogenous testosterone production in a natural way.
We have tested many different legal steroids and have found that there are a few of these that work very well as an alternative to harsh steroids.
Check out our guide on the best legal steroids and see how much more muscle mass you can maintain.
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