Within the bodybuilding/athletic fraternity, the desire to dramatically improve gains and results is common. Many decide to embark on the path of PH’s to achieve this.
Undoubtably PH’s deliver, albeit with a strict diet and workout routine, but careful and measured consideration is also important when taking this route.
If this is a path thats ever tweaked your interest then this article should give you a great insight into the subject and give you some guidence when looking at the beginners PH Stacks (click to view) I’ve put together.
PH’s are compounds which when injested into the body, convert into active hormones. These hormones fall mainly into two groups “anabolic” and “androgenic”, but some can be a mixture of the two. Primarily anabolic PH’s produce mass and strength whereas mainly androgenic hormones increase aggression, focus, energy, motivation, muscle hardening, and sex drive.
Unlike Testosterone boosters which help the body produce more of it’s own supply of testosterone via herbs, vitamins, and minerals, PH’s provide an outside source of Testosterone or a derivitive of Testosterone. The body will sense this outside source of synthetic hormone and begin to down-regulate natural Testosterone in response. Depending on the strength of the compound, down-regulation of natural testosterone can be partial or total. So PH’s should never be confused with Testosterone boosters as the two are completely different.
Many PH’s are methylated which means they are designed to resist breakdown by the liver, subsequently this means the PH remains intact and not de-activated by the liver.This process can put a strain on the liver with some PH’s only mildly toxic and other PH’s much more toxic. For this reason, t is always advised to use milk thistle and/or the equally effacious liver support supplements such as Artichoke, Turmeric,and N-acetyl-cysteine. It’s recommended to never go beyond 6 weeks on a methylated PH.
Cycles of PH’s generally last from 4 to 8 weeks in length. For methylated PH’s it is best to stick with 4-5 weeks and 6 weeks for the more experienced user. Typically the non-methylated PH’s can be taken for up to 8 weeks with 9-10 weeks for the advanced user. PH’s can be used for various goals wether it be to gain outright mass and strength (Bulking), to gain lean mass and minimise fat-gain (recomposition), or to help preserve lean mass and strength while on a low-calorie diet (cutting),.Some PH’s are only suited to bulking diets due to their highly anabolic and mass gaining properties. There are PH’s that can be utilised for bulking, recomposition ,and cutting, and there are those PH’s that are only recommended for cutting.
Diet and training are critical to the success of a PH cycle. On a bulk it is vital to eat as many calories as possible along with a very high protein diet. Doubling of one’s daily calorie intake is common with at least 1-1.5g of protein per lb of bodyweight consumed. Recomposition cycles require one to eat the same or similar calorie intake and because of the higher potential for the body to utilise protein for gaining muscle mass,1-1.5g of protein per lb of bodyweight should be consumed. For cutting cycles one would need to reduce calorie intake but still consume 1-1.5g of protein per lb of bodyweight.
Training wise it is vital to incorporate strength training as the primary component for all three goals. It is essential to increase the amount of weight lifted in every workout particularly for bulking and recomposition. Cardiovascular training should only be undertaken by the recomposition and cutting group, particularly the cutting group.The bulking group will want to keep all their calories for gaining mass and strength. Strength training is just as important to the cutting group as it will help maintain muscle mass on a cutting diet and increased cardiovascular training.
PH’s also increase nitrogen retention which resists muscle breakdown. PH’s can make it much easier to gain than diet,basic supplements, and training alone whatever the goal. As well as increased Protein synthesis and nitrogen retention, recovery is also greatly increased, particularly with the more anabolic PH’s.
Side-effects from PH’s depend entirely on the potency of a PH. Some PH’s are fairly toxic in regards to the liver and can raise blood-pressure. These compounds are only used for 2-4 weeks in length. Liver support and blood-pressure control such as Hawthorn berries, along with taurine to help prevent muscle cramps and pumps are essential. Other side-effects include sore aching joints.This is caused by a reduction in estrogen in the body, some PH’s reduce estrogen, and are known as “dry” PH’s.
Estrogen is anti-inflammatory and when reduced, a pro-inflammatory response on the joints is common. Fish oils at high doses can help alleviate these aches. Some PH’s promote estrogen in the body, these PH’s are usually the most potent and are often regarded as “wet” PH’s.They can result in the body sensing too much Testosterone and start to convert excess androgens into estrogen and prolactin to maintain a balance. Both of these female hormones can cause a nasty condition known as “Gynecomastia” where men can develop breasts and sore lactating nipples. Gynecomastia may require surgery in some cases toeradicate it.
Pre-dominantly anabolic PH’s can induce lethargy, low mood, and sexual dysfunction. This is a result of a lack of androgenic potency. Combining a more androgenic PH with a mostly anabolic PH can help prevent these side effects. This is what is known as stacking PH’s and only recommended for advanced users. Beginners should always start out with one PH that is mild or relatively mild in nature.
Obviously one can not stay on PH’s indefinitely for the reasons outlined. They are only suited to short or relatively short periods. Because of the body down-regulating natural testosterone in response to PH use, coming off PH’s can be problematic.If you have taken a powerful PH then natural Testosterone will be very low and not having the PH in the body anymore can lead to a condition known as shut-down. This can result in depression, sexual dysfunction, and a loss of energy, strength, and muscle mass. This is where “post cycle therapy” (PCT) comes in and is essential to dramatically reduce the symptoms of shutdown as well as maintaining the gains achieved.
PCT utilises various compounds to rebalance the body as quickly as possible after a cycle of PH’s, particularly the strong PH’s. These include anti-estrogens, estrogen modulators, Testosterone boosters and other postcycle support supplements. An anti-estrogen is called an AI (Aromatase inhibitor) and it stops the Aromatase enzyme from converting Testosterone into estrogen. An AI can dramatically raise natural testosterone and control estrogen and prolactin. An estrogen modulator simply controls the harmful effects of estrogen and enhances the benefit of estrogen in various tissues. PCT helps to prevent gynecomastia in breast tissue, while boosting natural Testosterone by stopping estrogen from blocking the Testosterone boosting hormone Luteinizing hormone (LH) from being released from the pituitary gland to the testes. Estrogen can be higher in the postcycle period as a result of low Testosterone and has to be controlled .Testosterone boosters can help boost natural Testosterone by again facilitating an increase in LH from the Pituitary gland which signals to the testes to raise natural Testosterone.
Cortisol is one of the worst culprits for destroying muscle tissue and can lead to a major loss of muscle mass gained on a PH cycle. When there is a hormonal imbalance after a PH cycle, cortisol surges and can ruin the gains made from a PH cycle. As well as insuring a rapid return to hormonal balance with a proper PCT, high doses of vitamin C can help control cortisol. Some testosterone boosters also contain herbs that can keep cortisol in check. Creatine is another natural supplement that can boost strength in the postcycle period.
So as you can see, PH’s can be a significant aid to the Bodybuilder, weightlifter, and athlete looking to take their physique and performance further. PH’s are not miracle substances, with diet and training remaining the critical factors in success or failure of their use. And for the beginner looking to step up a gear in their physical development to the next stage, PH’s are ideal. It should be noted that for those under the age of 21,PH’s should never be used and are totally unnecessary. Anyone who decides on a PH cycle should have several years of natural training behind them with some basic supplement knowledge.
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