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Use Proper Injection Procedures

Careful attention to correct injection procedures can help eliminate some of the complications associated with nonmedical steroid use. Steroids are given via deep intramuscular injections. The most common site of application is the upper outer quadrant of the gluteus muscle, although the drugs are also commonly injected to the upper outer thigh and shoulder. Site injections (in smaller muscle groups like the biceps, triceps, or calf muscles) for cosmetic purposes are discouraged, as they are technically more difficult to navigate and more prone to complications. Comfortable injection volumes should also be used, generally no more than 3 mL per application. Each injection site should be rotated so that the same muscle is not injected more than once every two weeks. A general focus should be made on cleanliness, including the use of alcohol pads on the vials and skin before injection, and the proper disposal of all needles and empty vials/ampules after use.

Llewellyn, William. Anabolics

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Watch Your Diet!

Anabolic/androgenic steroids can allow an individual significantly more latitude with their diet than normal. The caloric demand typically increases due to the effects of these drugs on muscle mass and metabolism, allowing more calories to be consumed each day without adding fat mass. It is important not to let this latitude affect your health in a negative way. Remember, the use of steroids at physique- and performance-enhancing doses is expected to cause an unfavorable shift in cholesterol levels and other cardiovascular health markers, favoring a higher risk of cardiovascular disease. Simultaneously feeding your body greater amounts of saturated fats, cholesterol, and simple carbohydrates can make the impact of these drugs even worse. Diets low in saturated fats, cholesterol, and simple sugars are recommended, and are known to reduce cardiovascular disease risk. Note, however, that diet alone is not effective at countering the negative cardiovascular effects of steroid use, but dietary restrictions can reduce these risks.

Llewellyn, William. Anabolics

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What are the advantages of paying with Bitcoin?

Due to the unique nature of virtual currencies, there are some inherent advantages to transacting through Bitcoin that users of other currencies do not get. Digital currencies are a relatively new and untested medium of exchange, and users should be careful to weigh their benefits and risks. That said, Bitcoin appears to offer some unique possibilities.

What Is Bitcoin?

Bitcoin is a decentralized, peer-to-peer, “cryptocurrency” system designed to allow online users to process transactions through digital units of exchange called Bitcoins. Started in 2009 by a mysterious programmer, Bitcoin has generated plenty of interest and controversy as a “third” type of currency and an alternative to government flat currencies like the U.S. dollar or the euro or pure commodity currencies like gold or silver coins.

Bitcoin payments are processed through a private network of computers linked through a shared program. Each transaction is simultaneously recorded in a “blockchain” on each computer that updates and informs all accounts.

Bitcoins are either “mined” by a computer through a process of solving increasingly complex mathematical algorithms or purchased with standard national money currencies and placed into a “Bitcoin wallet” that is accessed through a smartphone or computer.

User Anonymity

Bitcoin purchases are discrete. Unless a user voluntarily publishes his Bitcoin transactions, his purchases are never associated with his personal identity, much like cash-only purchases, and cannot be traced back to him. In fact, the anonymous Bitcoin address that is generated for user purchases changes with each transaction.

What are the advantages of paying with Bitcoin?

No Third-party Interruptions

One of the most widely publicized benefits of Bitcoin is that governments, banks and other financial intermediaries have no way to interrupt user transactions or place freezes on Bitcoin accounts. The system is purely peer-to-peer; users experience a greater degree of freedom than with national currencies.

Purchases Are Not Taxed

Since there is no way for third parties to identify, track or intercept transactions that are denominated in Bitcoins, one of the major advantages of Bitcoin is that sales taxes are not added onto any purchases.

Very Low Transaction Fees

Standard wire transfers and foreign purchases typically involve fees and exchange costs. Since Bitcoin transactions have no intermediary institutions or government involvement, the costs of transacting are kept very low. This can be a major advantage for travelers. Additionally, any transfer in Bitcoins happens very quickly, eliminating the inconvenience of typical authorization requirements and wait periods.

Mobile Payments

Like with many online payment systems, Bitcoin users can pay for their coins anywhere they have Internet access. This means that purchasers never have to travel to a bank or a store to buy a product. However, unlike online payments made with U.S. bank accounts or credit cards, personal information is not necessary to complete any transaction.

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Think of Testosterone First!

Of all the anabolic/androgenic steroids produced, testosterone esters like cypionate, enanthate, and Sustanon tend to have the lowest negative impact on health when taken in muscle building and performance-enhancing doses. Testosterone drugs provide a hormone identical to that already produced in the body, presenting the same spectrum of physical and physiological effects. In addition to being one of the most efficient muscle-builders available, testosterone generally has a positive (not negative) effect on libido, supports a positive mood, and supplements necessary estrogen so that cholesterol levels are less negatively shifted. The exclusive use of testosterone drugs for body or performance enhancement is advised if possible.

Llewellyn, William. Anabolics

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PCT: Post-Cycle Therapy

The objective of anabolic steroid therapy (when nonmedical applications are involved) should be to elicit the desired benefits with the lowest cumulative exposure and side effects. This normally includes diligence with optimizing all aspects of training, rest, and diet, as well as adhering to a Post-Cycle Therapy (PCT) program at the conclusion of each steroid cycle. One the one hand, we want to make each cycle as productive as possible. On the other, we are striving to retain the most gains so the starting point for the next cycle is that much further along. When all aspects are in check, the result should be a need for lower total doses, fewer cycles (longer durations of abstinence), and shorter durations of use oncycle.
Given the importance of retaining our muscle and performance gains, however, our efforts in this regard should not conclude with Post-Cycle Therapy. Indeed, to receive the greatest long-term benefits from anabolic/androgenic steroid therapy it is also advisable to initiate an Off-Cycle Therapy (OCT) program when the PCT is over. The focus of OCT is typically to use all natural substances (dietary supplements) that favor muscle retention, while simultaneously allowing general physiology and hormonal balances to return. While it is fair and even advisable to approach dietary supplements with a healthy level of scepticism, the field has legitimately advanced enough that we do have products with tangible value. We can find ways to make our programs more effective in the absence of pharmaceuticals.
A well-organized OCT program lasts a minimum of six to eight weeks, and consists of three distinct components. The first is “Testosterone Support,” which seeks to extend an effective PCT program, but with a different and much more basic approach. The second part is “Muscle Cell ReSensitization.” Heavy training disrupts the muscle cell membranes, so that the muscles become less responsive to exercise stimulation. We want to address this during OCT, and prime the muscles for the next bout of intense training. Lastly, we want to include one or more natural muscle-building substances in the program. This part is called “Anabolic Supplementation”. If the right products are used, distinct anabolic/anti-catabolic effects should be noticed, and more muscle mass will be retained in the long run. All three OCT components are taken simultaneously, sometimes for the full period between the end of PCT and the start of the next AAS cycle.

Llewellyn, William. Anabolics

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Estrogen and bodybuilding

Testosterone is the primary substrate used in the male body for the synthesis of estrogen (estradiol), the principal female sex hormone. Although the presence of estrogen may seem quite unusual in men, it is structurally very similar to testosterone. With a slight alteration by the enzyme aromatase, estrogen is produced in the male body. Aromatase activity occurs in various regions of the male body, including adipose, liver, gonadal, central nervous system, and skeletal muscle tissues. In the context of the average healthy male, the amount of estrogen produced is generally not very significant to one’s body disposition, and may even be beneficial in terms of cholesterol values. However, in larger amounts it does have potential to cause many unwanted effects including water retention, female breast tissue development (gynecomastia), and body fat accumulation. For these reasons, many focus on minimizing the build-up or activity of estrogen in the body with aromatase inhibitors such as Arimidex and Cytadren, or anti-estrogens such as Clomid or Nolvadex, particularly at times when gynecomastia is a worry or the athlete is attempting to increase muscle definition.
We must, however, not be led into thinking that estrogen serves no benefit. It is actually a desirable hormone in many regards. Athletes have known for years that estrogenic steroids are the best mass builders, but it is only recently that we are finally coming to understand the underlying mechanisms why. It appears that reasons go beyond the simple size, weight, and strength increases that one would attribute to estrogen-related water retention, with this hormone actually having a direct effect on the process of anabolism. This is manifest through increases in glucose utilization, growth hormone secretion,and androgen receptor proliferation.

Glucose Utilization and Estrogen
Estrogen may play a very important role in the promotion of an anabolic state by affecting glucose utilization in muscle tissue. This occurs via an altering of the level of available glucose 6-phosphate dehydrogenase, an enzyme directly tied to the use of glucose for muscle tissue growth and recuperation. More specifically, G6PD is a vital part of the pentose phosphate pathway, which is integral in determining the rate nucleic acids and lipids are to be synthesized in cells for tissue repair. During the period of regeneration after skeletal muscle damage, levels of G6PD are shown to rise dramatically, which is believed to represent a mechanism for the body to enhance recovery when needed. Surprisingly, we find that estrogen is directly tied to the level of G6PD that is to be made available to cells in this recovery window.
The link between estrogen and G6PD was established in a study demonstrating levels of this dehydrogenase enzyme to rise after administration of testosterone propionate. The investigation further showed that the aromatization of testosterone to estradiol was directly responsible for this increase, and not the androgenic action of this steroid. The non-aromatizable steroids dihydrotestosterone and fluoxymesterone were tested alongside testosterone propionate, but failed to duplicate the effect of testosterone. Furthermore, the positive effect of testosterone propionate was blocked when the aromatase inhibitor 4-hydroxyandrostenedione (formestane) was added, while 17-beta estradiol administration alone caused a similar increase in G6PD to tesosterone propionate. The inactive estrogen isomer alpha estradiol, which is unable to bind the estrogen receptor, failed to do anything. Further tests using testosterone propionate and the anti-androgen flutamide showed that this drug also did nothing to block the positive action of testosterone, establishing it as an effect independent of the androgen receptor.

Estrogen and GH/IGF-1
Estrogen may also play an important role in the production of growth hormone and IGF-1. IGF-1 (insulin-like growth factor) is an anabolic hormone released in the liver and various peripheral tissues via the stimulus of growth hormone (See Drug Profiles: Growth Hormone). IGF-1 is responsible for the anabolic activity of growth hormone such as increased nitrogen retention/protein synthesis and cell hyperplasia (proliferation). One of the first studies to bring this issue to our attention looked at the effects of the anti-estrogen tamoxifen on IGF-1 levels, demonstrating it to have a suppressive effect. A second, perhaps more noteworthy, study took place in 1993, which looked at the effects of testosterone replacement therapy on GH and IGF-1 levels alone, and compared them to the effects of testosterone combined again with tamoxifen. When tamoxifen was given, GH and IGF-1 levels were notably suppressed, while both values were elevated with the administration of testosterone enanthate alone. Another study has shown 300 mg of testosterone enanthate weekly to cause a slight IGF-1 increase in normal men. Here the 300 mg of testosterone ester caused an elevation of estradiol levels, which would be expected at such a dose. This was compared to the effect of the same dosage of nandrolone decanoate; however, this steroid failed to produce the same increase. This result is quite interesting, especially when we note that estrogen levels were actually lowered when this steroid was given. Yet another demonstrated that GH and IGF-1 secretion is increased with testosterone administration on males with delayed puberty, while dihydrotestosterone (non-aromatizable) seems to suppress GH and IGF-1 secretion.

Estrogen and the Androgen Receptor
It has also been demonstrated that estrogen can increase the concentration of androgen receptors in certain tissues. This was shown in studies with rats, which looked at the effects of estrogen on cellular androgen receptors in animals that underwent orchiectomy (removal of testes, often done to diminish endogenous androgen production). According to the study, administration of estrogen resulted in a striking 480% increase in methyltrienolone (a potent oral androgen often used to reference receptor binding in studies) binding in the levator ani muscle. The suggested explanation is that estrogen must either be directly stimulating androgen receptor production, or perhaps diminishing the rate of receptor breakdown. Although the growth of the levator ani muscle is commonly used as a reference for the anabolic activity of steroid compounds, it is admittedly a sex organ muscle, and different from skeletal muscle tissue in that it possesses a much higher concentration of androgen receptors. This study, however, did look at the effect of estrogen in fast-twitch skeletal muscle tissues (tibialis anterior and extensor digitorum longus) as well, but did not note the same increase as the levator ani. Although discouraging at first glance, the fact that estrogen can increase androgen receptor binding in any tissue remains an extremely significant finding, especially in light of the fact that we now know androgens to have some positive effects on muscle growth that are mediated outside of muscle tissue.

Estrogen and Fatigue

“Steroid Fatigue” is a common catchphrase these days, and refers to another important function of estrogen in both the male and female body, namely its ability to promote wakefulness and a mentally alert state. Given the common availability of potent third-generation aromatase inhibitors, bodybuilders today are (at times) noticing more extreme estrogen suppression than they had in the past. Often associated with this suppression is fatigue. Under such conditions, the athlete, though on a productive cycle of drugs, may not be able to maximize his or her gains due to an inability to train at full vigor. This effect is sometimes also dubbed “steroid lethargy.” The reason is that estrogen plays an important supporting role in the activity of serotonin. Serotonin is one of the body’s principle neurotransmitters, vital to mental alertness and the sleep/wake cycle. Interference with this neurotransmitter is also associated with chronic fatigue syndrome, so we can see how vital it is to fatigue specifically. Estrogen suppression in menopause has also been associated with fatigue, as has the clinical use of newer (more potent) aromatase inhibitors like anastrozole, letrozole, exemestane, and fadrozole in some patients. These things may be important to consider when planning your next cycle. Although not everyone notices this problem when estrogen is low, for those that do, a little testosterone or estrogen can go a long way in correcting this. It is also of note that the use of strictly non-aromatizable steroids sometimes causes this effect as well, likely due to the suppression of natural testosterone production (cutting off the main substrate used by the male body to make estrogen).

Llewellyn, William. Anabolics

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Free vs. Bound Testosterone

A very small amount of testosterone actually exists in a free state, where interaction with cellular receptors is possible. The majority will be bound to the proteins SHBG (sex hormone binding globulin, also referred to as sex steroid binding globulin and testosterone-estradiol binding globulin) and albumin, which temporarily prevent the hormone from exerting activity. Steroid hormones actually bind much more avidly to SHBG than albumin (with approximately 1,000 times greater affinity), however albumin is present in a level 1,000 times greater than SHBG. Therefore, the activity of both binding proteins in the body is relatively equal.

The level of free testosterone available in the blood is likewise an important factor mediating its activity, as only a small percentage is really active at any given time. It must also be noted that as we alter testosterone to form new anabolic/androgenic steroids, we also typically alter the affinity in which the steroid will bind to plasma proteins. This is an important consideration, as the higher percentage we have of free hormone, the more active the compound should be on a milligram for milligram basis. And the variance can be substantial between different compounds.

The level of SHBG present in the body is also variable, and can be altered by a number of factors. The most prominent seems to be the concentration of estrogen and thyroid hormones present in the blood. We generally see a reduction in the amount of this plasma binding protein as estrogen and thyroid content decreases, and a rise in SHBG as they increase. A heightened androgen level due to the administration of anabolic/androgenic steroids has also been shown to lower levels of this protein considerably. This is clearly supported by a 1989 German study, which noted a strong tendency for SHBG reduction with the oral anabolic steroid stanozolol (Winstrol®).

20 After only 3 days of administering a daily dose of .2mg/kg body-weight (about 18mg for a 200lb man), SHBG was lowered nearly 50% in normal subjects. Similar results have been obtained with the use of injectable testosterone enanthate; however, milligram for milligram, the effect of stanozolol was much greater in comparison. The form of administration may have been important in reaching this level of response. Although the injectable was not tried in the German study, we can refer to others comparing the effect of oral vs. transdermal estrogen. These show a much greater response in SHBG levels when the drug is given orally. This is perhaps explained by the fact that SHBG is produced in the liver. Therefore, we cannot assume that injectable Winstrol® (or injectable steroids in general) will display the same level of potency in this regard.
Lowering the level of plasma binding proteins is also not the only mechanism that allows for an increased level of free testosterone. Steroids that display a high affinity for these proteins may also increase the level of free testosterone by competing with it for binding. Obviously if testosterone finds it more difficult to locate available plasma proteins in the presence of the additional compound, more will be left in an unbound state. A number of steroids including dihydrotestosterone, Proviron®, and Oral-Turinabol (chlorodehydromethyltestosterone) display a strong tendency for this effect. If the level of free-testosterone can be altered by the use of different anabolic/androgenic steroids, the possibility also exists that one steroid can increase the potency of another through these same mechanisms. For example, Proviron® is a poor anabolic, but its extremely high affinity for SHBG might make it useful by allowing the displacement of other steroids that are more active in these tissues.
We must not let this discussion lead us into thinking that binding proteins serve no valuable function. In fact they play a vital role in the transport and functioning of endogenous androgens. Binding proteins act to protect the steroid against rapid metabolism, ensure a more stable blood hormone concentration, and facilitate an even distribution of hormone to various body organs. The recent discovery of a specific receptor for Sex Hormone Binding Globulin (SHBG-R) located on the membrane surface of steroid responsive body cells also suggests a much more complicated role for this protein than solely hormone transport. However, it remains clear that manipulating the tendency of a hormone to exist in an unbound state is an effective way to alter drug potency.

Llewellyn, William. Anabolics

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Testosterone and Creatine

In addition to protein synthesis, a rise in androgen levels should also enhance the synthesis of creatine in skeletal muscle tissues.14 Creatine, as creatine phosphate (CP), plays a crucial role in the manufacture of ATP (adenosine triphosphate), which is a main store of energy for the muscles. As the muscle cells are stimulated to contract, ATP molecules are broken down into ADP (adenosine diphosphate), which releases energy. The cells will then undergo a process using creatine phosphate to rapidly restore ADP to its original structure, in order to replenish ATP concentrations. During periods of intense activity, however, this process will not be fast enough to compensate and ATP levels will become lowered. This will cause the muscles to become fatigued and less able to effort a strenuous contraction. With increased levels of CP available to the cells, ATP is replenished at an enhanced rate and the muscle is both stronger and more enduring. This effect will account for some portion of the early strength increases seen during steroid therapy. Although perhaps not technically considered an anabolic effect as tissue hypertrophy is not a direct result, androgen support of creatine synthesis is certainly still looked at as a positive and growth-supporting result in the mind of the bodybuilder.

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A Guide For Beginners

Workouts: Steroids do not magically grow muscles, you must dedicate yourself to a disciplined workout routine to obtain the desired buildup of muscle mass. When planning your workouts, there are several factors to consider. First, to kick the body into muscle-building gear and out of its state of homeostasis, you need to plan a high intensity workout. This means you should plan for a workout with few sets that work the muscle until it fails. Large muscle groups will need more sets than small ones, but no more than eight sets are usually necessary to get the desired results. Your sets should also be consist of a small number of reps. Eight to ten reps should be sufficient for any workout as long as you are using heavy weights. You should increase the weights you lift as you get stronger to keep the workouts stressful on the muscles. If you can easily get through a set and you are not lifting until muscle failure, increase the weight. While stressful workouts stimulate the muscles, they do not grow until they are at rest. You should only workout one muscle group at a time about once a week and you should always workout every other day to allow the body enough rest time to grow the muscles. Also, after a period of intense training, you should take a few days off to rest and then start a plateau training program that is intended to keep you in shape but not necessarily to gain more mass. Because it is very likely that you will make gains of 20 pounds or more in a relatively short time, it is important to keep up a regular cardiovascular exercise workout as well to keep the heart in shape to handle the new body mass. Three to four half-hour cardio workouts a week should be sufficient to keep your heart healthy for your new body.

Diet: While it is true that using anabolic steroids will allow the body to grow larger muscles than what your natural genetics will allow, you are still bound by the basic rules of physiology you can not grow more mass unless you intake more mass in your diet. One of the most common reasons why bodybuilders show stagnate gains in their muscle mass is poor nutrition. Most people have bad habits when it comes to eating, which is why obesity is such a problem today. For bodybuilders, especially those using steroids, a disciplined diet can mean all the difference in the world when it comes to gains in muscle mass. Changing eating habits is hard to do but if you follow these simple guidelines, you can maximize the results of your diet. Eat more meals per day! Most of us have become indoctrinated to the thee-meal-a-day lifestyle, a large breakfast, hearty lunch and a dinner feast. Unfortunately, this is not an ideal eating schedule for the body and can lead to more unhealthy habits, like skipping lunch because of a large breakfast, for example. By consuming five to six meals throughout the day, the body will begin to release insulin continuously. Insulin carries amino acids, an essential building block of muscles. The most essential part of any bodybuilder’s diet is protein. Because protein breaks down in the and turns into amino acids (the most essential building block for muscles), it is important to maintain a high intake of protein in order to continue growth. The best sources for protein come from meat, fish, eggs and milk. An effective diet for bodybuilders is a protein intake of one to one and a half grams of protein per pound of bodyweight per day. This amount should be adequate enough to maintain a positive nitrogen balance in the muscle cell meaning the cell takes in more protein than it gives out. Carbohydrates are an important factor to a proper diet for athletes because they are essential to giving the body energy, maintaining blood-sugar levels and burning fat. A recommended amount of 800 to 900 grams of carbohydrates should be consumed daily. Good sources of complex carbohydrates, which should be about 85 percent of your carbohydrate intake, are whole grains, rice, oats, noodles, pasta and vegetables. Simple carbohydrates, which should be the remaining 15 percent of your carbohydrate intake, come from fruit.

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