What Steroid Half-Lives Do and How to Structure Cycles According to Them
Because there are different anabolic steroid half-lives for the different anabolic steroids in existence, not every anabolic steroid can be administered in the same manner or in the same frequency. Dianabol (Methandrostenolone), for example, exhibits a half-life of approximately 4 – 6 hours, which might require multiple daily administrations in order to maintain stable blood levels of the hormone. The same might not be said for Winstrol (Stanozolol), which expresses a half-life of 9 hours in the body, and therefore individuals could easily get by with ingesting their full dose all at once.
It is important to understand as well that for the purpose of performance and physique enhancement, frequent administration of anabolic steroid is very necessary in order to maintain stable and optimal blood plasma levels. For therapeutic medical use, the administration of an anabolic steroid on the last day of its half-life might be acceptable, but for the purpose of performance and physique enhancement, the administration and dosage protocol changes dramatically. The intention at this point is no longer for therapeutic use, but now for increased performance and/or muscle mass and strength. Therefore, higher than normal (therapeutic) physiological bodybuilding doses are required, as well as a higher frequency of injections are required so as to maintain optimal peak blood plasma levels of the hormone. For example, a TRT (Testosterone Replacement Therapy) does not have to be concerned about performance increases from week to week (or even day to day), but athletes and bodybuilders must.
While the human body manufactures an endogenous Testosterone level in the range of 70mg/week, the Testosterone dosage required for physique and performance enhancement must sit well above that, with a minimum being in the range of 300 – 500mg per week for beginners, for example. Intermediate and/or experienced anabolic steroid users can venture even higher than that. In addition to the higher bodybuilding dosage, the injections must be administered much more frequently. While TRT patients can ‘get by’ with a single 250mg injection of Testosterone Enanthate once per week (or even once every two weeks as is commonly applied clinically), an athlete or bodybuilder would have to administer 250mg of Testosterone Enanthate twice per week (for a total of 500mg) in order to experience a steady onset of performance and physique enhancing benefits. This is very necessary due to a constant steady peak blood plasma level of the anabolic steroid that is necessary for constant biological action within muscle tissue in the body. Testosterone Enanthate, as mentioned earlier in this article, exhibits a half-life of 7 – 10 days, but although its half-life is 7 – 10 days, sharp declines in blood plasma levels begin to occur several days before the end of the half-life period. When performance and physique enhancement is desired, the administration of doses must occur more frequently in order to keep blood plasma levels elevated as best as possible. For medical purposes such as TRT, sharp spikes and peaks and valleys in blood plasma levels can be afforded (although it is still not optimal), as the patient is simply utilizing Testosterone to obtain normal physiological levels, and is therefore not particularly concerned with dramatic performance or physique changes on a weekly basis.
The dosages of anabolic steroids administered on a daily or weekly basis should be split evenly per administration. For example, if an individual is to administer 500mg per week of Testosterone Enanthate as two injections per week, they would ideally administer 250mg per injection. An individual administering 50mg per day of Dianabol would have to ideally ingest their doses once every 2 – 4 hours, which might work out to 2 administrations of 25mg per administration during the waking hours. Some additional practical examples are the following:
Testosterone Propionate half-life: 4.5 days. Optimal injection frequency: every other day (daily is even better).
Trenbolone Acetate half-life: 3 days. Optimal injection frequency: every other day (daily is even better).
Testosterone Cypionate half-life: 10 – 12 days. Optimal injection frequency: twice per week, each injection split evenly between each other (for example, Monday and Thursday).
Testosterone Suspension half-life: 4 – 24 hours. Optimal injection frequency: once per day (multiple times per day is even better).
Dianabol (Methandrostenolone) half-life: 4 – 6 hours. Optimal administration frequency: once every two to four hours.
Maintaining steady and stable blood plasma levels with frequent administrations long before the anabolic steroid’s half-life period has ended also assists the user in performing a much more comfortable cycle that is void of side effects. Because peaks and valleys in blood plasma levels are avoided, the incidence of side effects becomes much lower. Side effects tend to present themselves the most during periods of fluctuating hormone levels, where the imbalance of different hormones takes its toll on the body.
Frontloading is a practice utilized by anabolic steroid using bodybuilders and athletes in an attempt to elevate blood plasma levels of the anabolic steroid as quickly as possible so as to experience gains and the ‘kick-in’ period much quicker. This is normally done with long-estered anabolic steroids such as Testosterone Enanthate, Testosterone Cypionate, Deca-Durabolin (Nandrolone Decanoate), etc. as these anabolic steroids express fairly long steroid half-lives. Anabolic steroids that express longer half-lives tend to kick-in much later (a half-life of 7 days or longer is considered to be quite long). These long-estered anabolic steroids often require several weeks of administration (4 – 6 weeks) before performance and physique changes are experienced. This is due to the very slow release of the hormone in the body due to the very long steroid half-lives, and therefore result in a very slow build-up to the optimal blood plasma levels that are required for significant gains to occur.
The interesting point to understand is that shortly after the injection of any compound, whether it is a short-estered anabolic steroid or a long-estered one, a sharp and fast release of the hormone in the body always occurs within the day or two following injection. Blood plasma levels rise quite rapidly before beginning to decline. With long-estered anabolic steroids, the build-up of the hormone to the intended optimal peak effective level is achieved slowly over time (this has been mentioned many times already throughout this article. For example, if an individual wishes to run a cycle of Testosterone Enanthate at 500mg per week, the fact of the matter is that the body will not actually contain 500mg of Testosterone Enanthate until several weeks into the cycle if the user merely administers only 500mg of Testosterone Enanthate from the beginning.
The practice of frontloading avoids this by having the user administer double (or even triple) the original intended dose within the first week (or first few days) of the cycle, depending on the anabolic steroid used.
The normal progression of blood level buildup is as follows (using Testosterone Enanthate as the example compound, for the purpose of explanation, its half-life will be regarded as 7 days):
Day 1: 500mg
Day 7: 250mg remaining from the previous injection + 500mg freshly injected = 750mg total
Day 14: 375mg remaining from the previous injection + 500mg freshly injected = 875mg total
Day 28: 437.5mg remaining from the previous injection + 500mg freshly injected = 937.5mg total
Day 35: 468.75mg remaining from the previous injection + 500mg freshly injected = 968.75mg total
Day 42: 484.38mg remaining from the previous injection + 500mg freshly injected = 984.38mg total
As demonstrated, it took until 42 days before blood plasma levels started to come very close to reaching the optimal 500mg per week level in the bloodstream. The amount to be concerned over is the amount that is remaining in the body before the next injection. Now, the frontloading method of double-dosing the intended weekly dose will be compared as to how long it will take for optimal blood plasma levels of 500mg/week to be achieved:
Day 1: 1,000mg
Day 7: 500mg remaining from the previous injection + 500mg freshly injected = 1,000mg total
Day 14: 500mg remaining from the previous injection + 500mg freshly injected = 500mg total
As demonstrated, it took until day 7 before blood plasma levels of 500mg in the body are achieved with the frontloading method. By comparison, it would take 42 days for this dose to be achieved in the body by simply administering 500mg per week. By administering double the intended dose on the first day (or in the first week) of the cycle, optimal intended blood plasma levels are acquired by the second week. The result is a faster onset of gains and performance and physique changes compared to the standard dosing method. Typically with frontloading, most users will report their long-estered compounds to ‘kick-in’ approximately 3 or 4 weeks into their cycle compared to 4 – 6 weeks.
The only possible downside to the frontloading method is a faster onset of side effects for the user, especially those more sensitive to them. Individuals who fall into this category might want to avoid the practice of frontloading. Users who are brand new to a particular compound might also want to do the same.
List of Steroid Half-Lives
The following is a list of anabolic steroid half-lives (in alphabetical order):
Anadrol (Oxymetholone): 8 – 9 hours
Anavar (Oxandrolone): 9 hours
Deca-Durabolin (Nandrolone Decanoate): 15 days
Dianabol (Methandrostenolone): 4.5 – 6 hours
Equipoise (Boldenone Undecylenate): 14 days
Halotestin (Fluoxymesterone): 9.5 hours
Masteron (Drostanolone Propionate): 4.5 days
Nandrolone Phenylpropionate: 4.5 days
Omnadren: 15 – 18 days (variable due to the mixture of four different ester types)
Parabolan (Trenbolone Hexahydrobenzylcarbonate): 14 days
Primobolan, oral (Methenolone Acetate): 2 – 3 days
Primobolan, injectable (Methenolone Enanthate): 7 – 10 days
Sustanon 250: 15 – 18 days (variable due to the mixture of four different ester types)
Testosterone Cypionate: 10 – 12 days
Testosterone Enanthate: 7 – 10 days
Testosterone Propionate: 4.5 days
Testosterone Suspension: 2 – 4 hours (some reports as long as 39 hours)
Trenbolone Acetate: 3 days
Turinabol (4-chlorodehydromethyltestosterone): 16 hours
Winstrol, oral (Stanozolol): 9 hours
Winstrol, injectable (Stanozolol): 24 hours
A final concluding note should be made on anabolic steroid half-lives, and this goes for any drugs, chemicals, or foods: half-lives are not set in stone figures, and only approximations and ranges can be given. Half-lives are also very susceptible to the individual metabolism of the person using the drugs, as some individuals may possess a faster ability to metabolize hormones than others, while others can be much slower at this process. For example, while the half-life of Testosterone Enanthate is that of 7 – 10 days, there might be some individuals that might metabolize the drug within 5 days, and others that might metabolize it within 12 days or more.