This is a loaded question and is dependent on many different things.
TRT = Testosterone replacement therapy.
TRT is a general term used to describe taking a low, regular dose (usually weekly) of testosterone to replace your body’s own declining levels. I want to start off by going through some of the variables/questions one should ask themselves to help determine what is best..
How old are you? Once you hit your late 20’s, your natural test levels will start to decline. If you’re 30+ years old its going to be hard to get your natural levels back to ‘normal’ in just a few months.
Are you getting your blood work done regularly? If you’re not able to test your blood to see exactly where your testosterone levels are while on cycle and off cycle, then it will be very hard determine if you’re recovering quickly or if your testosterone levels are low.
Do you have any health issues? If you have high cholesterol, heart issues, etc. then you will want to monitor this carefully if you use steroids. I have seen guys do much better staying on a low dose TRT (200mg/week) throughout the year, rather than cycling steroids at higher doses for 3-months, then going off for a period of time. On the same token, I have seen others with health issues do better cycling on and off.
What are your athletic/fitness/exercise goals? If you’re competing in bodybuilding, powerlifting, or some other sport at an extremely high level, then the low dose TRT may not be for you, as those endeavors require different demands at such a high level. If you’re using steroids to help get into shape, slow down aging, or for general increased performance in your chosen discipline, then you’re probably a better candidate.
The endocrine system is very sensitive; if it gets thrown out of whack it can take some real time to get it back to ‘normal.’ In the bodybuilding scene, we have been taught that we should cycle on steroids then cycle off them back and forth. The reasoning behind this is to give the body’s natural test levels a chance to recover. I have heard guys say that you need to go off at least as long as you were on. Doing this protocol would put you going on cycle for 3-months then off for 3-months, in this yo-yo fashion. In theory this is sound advice, you use exogenous testosterone for a few months, doing this will suppress your natural testosterone so you take the next 3-months to get your natural test levels back up before suppressing them again. I suppose the idea behind this is that if you don’t let your natural test levels get back to normal by cycling on and off, then you will permanently suppress your natural test levels.
If you’re a 30+ year old healthy male who is using steroids to help with performance and recovery in the gym or with any athletic performance, I would seriously consider using a TRT dose and staying on year round. This may sound scary at first, the idea of never coming off steroids can make you feel like an addict or feel like you’re putting your health in jeopardy. Let me make a few arguments about why it may be a good idea to do this. First off, if you’re going to be on all year, you don’t need to be using normal cycle doses. I think most guys doing a 3-month cycle would say 800-1,000mg/week would be considered normal. If you’re staying on year round, then a dose of 200mg/week is the max that would be needed/advised. Doing this lower dose can really mitigate the negative health effects of steroids. I know for myself, if I use 800mg/week my blood pressure raises, my cholesterol will get out of whack (especially if I am using orals), and I tend to have a much higher hematocrit/red blood cell level that can lead to the heart working even harder to pump the thicker blood through the body. Even 200mg/week is multiple times higher than what our bodies are producing naturally, so your definitely going to see benefits at this dose; especially if you’re using year round.
This brings me to my next point: what is the sense in spending all of the time to get your test levels back to ‘normal’ via PCT and being off cycle, just to throw them into suppression again a few months later? This yo-yo effect is what causes the majority of negative side effects that guys experience when cycling their gear. If you go from having 1500+ ng/dL testosterone levels to having 0, you’re going to lose the majority of the muscle you have built while on cycle, as your body does not have the hormones running through it that can sustain that muscle mass. Chances are you will only keep a small % of it in the end. I believe many guys would do much better using the TRT dose year round as its easier to keep your blood work on track on the lower dose; additionally, you will experience far less negative health effects. Yes your gains will be slower but they will be permanent and much easier to sustain. The slower you build the muscle the easier it is to sustain. When your muscles grow quickly over a short period of time the whole body has to ‘grow’ or adapt to support the muscle- meaning tendons, ligaments, your circulatory system, etc etc.. Many guys experience this first hand after they have put on 20lbs in a short time and they try to go out hiking (or even walking, climbing stairs, etc) and they can’t seem to catch their breath. It is because their heart and lungs are trying to pump blood and oxygen to 20% more muscle tissue and simply can’t keep up.
I remember the first time I came off cycle when I was just getting into bodybuilding. I felt like complete garbage, I was young, inexperienced and saw any hard fought muscle gains slipping away and no matter how hard I trained or how much I tried to eat, I lost the majority of what I had gained. Generally, depression can set in from having low or no testosterone, and this just complicates matters more. I found myself counting down the days until my ‘3-months off’ was over and I could start back up again. It felt like 3 steps forward and 2 steps back. I often wonder how I would have done lowering my doses and simply staying on for longer periods of time with the TRT type of dose.
I will conclude with a few last points to keep in mind. Get familiar with your blood work. At a minimum, you should have it tested twice a year. Doing steroids and not getting your blood work done is like trying to navigate using a map without knowing what way is north? You won’t know what direction to go because you don’t know exactly where you’re at. Once you know what your testosterone levels, cholesterol, red blood cell, etc is at, you have the necessary tools to know how long it takes your body to recover from a cycle, deal with any health issues, and make an informed decision if a year round TRT dose is good for you. I don’t believe one way of using steroids is better than the other, so it is best to experiment a little and see how you react. Try doing the TRT dose for 6-9 months and see how you feel, how your blood work looks, and what kind of progress you have made. Compare this to your normal regimen and see what makes more sense to you.
Getting your blood work done is very easy these days. There’s a lot of online testing companies that will have you get blood drawn at a Lab Corp or Quest Diagnostic type of facility and then email you the results for a $100-200. You don’t have to explain anything to your doctor, it is private, and you can see exactly what’s going on in your body.
Thanks for reading. As always, we appreciate any feedback we can get, be it good or bad. Feel free to comment and add any info you think is beneficial to this conversation.
G and All of Team Gear Depot