One of the biggest challenges you'll face after a steroid cycle is keeping the gains you made 'on cycle'. It is exactly this issue that encourages the poor habit of staying 'on cycle' for extended periods of time. Clearly, this is not ideal since it can seriously damage your health and organs; our bodies aren't designed to take that kind of strain.
So how can you deal with 'off cycle' blues?
The simplest answer is bridging with SARMs. Simply put, they're built for this.
What is Bridging Steroid Cycles?
If you are not familiar with bridging, this is the phase of recovery between steroid or prohormone cycles. As some of you will know, it is the time you're desperately fighting to maintain the same strength, power and endurance as you had during your cycle, and try to maintain the gains that you've worked so hard for. Inevitably, you will lose some strength and you will experience a dip in energy, which can cause a strain physically and mentally.
The body has to have time off from steroids or prohormones. This is a time when SARMs truly shine.
Bridging Steroid Cycles with SARMs
SARMs still don't get the credit they deserve in the bodybuilding community but good quality SARMs can provide the perfect bridge when moving off cycle. Although there is some confusion, SARMs are NOT anabolics and therefore perfectly safe to use off cycle.
SARMS like Ostarine and Andarine were designed specially to prevent muscle loss and lend themselves perfectly to that function. Not only that, but used a low dose they can give the impression of still being 'on cycle' and can help firm up your neural drive. Physiologically they increase anabolic activity and thus will not only prevent muscle loss but also aid recovery.
Ostarine Prevents Catabolism during PCT
At this transition point, your body will quickly begin to produce testosterone. It's here you must be careful not to allow excess cortisol from chewing up your hard earned muscle. At the same time, your body will have little to no nitrogen which will cause your muscles to crave nutrients that you don't have.
To counter these effects, prevent catabolism and lessen the amount of muscle loss, a sensible solution is to introduce a non-suppressive anabolic; and this is the greatest opportunity for SARMs to really shine. A small dose of 25mg of Ostarine (MK-2866) for example will help preserve your muscle gain and increase your nitrogen and IGF levels.
This will also help you continue smashing your workouts and even improve muscle pumps.
Cardarine Prevents Fat Gain during PCT
After you've dealt with your cortisol levels, you'll find that the excess testosterone binds with it, rendering it inactive.
To prevent fat gain yet keeping your calories up requires a PPAR modulator such as Cardarine (GW-50156). This will regulate the rate at which you burn fat. It does this in a number of ways but essentially it promotes glycogen retention in muscle tissue.
This allows the body to alter its metabolism and increase the amount of fat burned instead of using carbs or protein as fuel.
This is a true win/win and means your body retains muscles and yet fat retention is reduced. This, in turn, will give you more stamina and can have the added bonus of reducing cravings.
Balancing your Hormones during PCT
The drawback to most PCT is the potentially negative side effects. To counter these you need to ensure you keep your hormones balanced.
As testosterone levels rise, estrogen levels are also significantly increased and sometimes at a faster rate. Estrogen flooding causes skin problems and can even cause gynecomastia (swelling of the nipples).
To counteract this, Aromasin can be used to inhibit aromatase whilst only increasing your IGF levels by approximately 30%. Aromasin will also prevent estrogen rebound and therefore save you from developing man-boobs.
Taken on alternate days, a 12.5mgs dose of Aromasin is great for PCT. It helps up your testosterone levels by actually lowering estrogen.
How to Bridge your Cycles Effectively
There are 3 main factors to consider and each is equally important:
You can't just let yourself go when you move 'off cycle'. Your chemistry may be changing, but you can't allow your focus to slip. Keeping up a solid mental state is essential if you don't want to lose your gains. Losing your aggression and neural drive can be as damaging as losing muscle gain so it's important to keep your mind sharp.
You don't need us to tell you how important diet is to bodybuilding. Indeed some would say it's the most important aspect of all. It's essential that when you move 'off cycle' you adjust your diet accordingly. Increasing your protein intake and equalizing your carbohydrate and fat intake will help you keep your muscle mass. There's no hard and fast rule to this, but just keep in mind that your diet 'off cycle' should not be the same as your 'on cycle' diet.
In order to bridge successfully, it's important to stay on top of your training. One way to achieve this is to ensure that when you're 'on cycle' you focus more on lower weight and higher reps, whilst your off-cycle training should be heavy. Heavier training, when you're off-cycle or bridging, will effectively build strength and help to maintain the muscle mass you build during your cycle.
All of the above are important when bridging and it is therefore important to consider them all. To bridge correctly requires a subtle balance of all factors and you should consider bridging just as you move into your Post Cycle Therapy.
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