Testosterone is an essential hormone produced by both men and women and essential to proper endocrine function with a host of responsibilities. While naturally occurring in all human beings the amount produced will vary from person to person often a great deal, as well as decline especially as we age. While natural testosterone has always existed, obviously, synthetic form has only been available for approximately 100 years but make no mistake, synthetic testosterone has opened the door for many advancements in both performance enhancement and hormone replacement therapy. Without testosterone we would not have the host of anabolic androgenic steroids we have today, as most anabolic androgenic steroids owe their existence to testosterone. While many anabolic steroids are derived from the testosterone hormone there isn’t one that is more important and generally well-tolerated.
Testosterone is an androgen class hormone produced by both men and women; in the testicles in men and the ovaries of women, although generally ten times as much testosterone will be naturally produced in men and as such it is known as the primary male hormone. Testosterone plays a key role in development, sexual characteristics, muscle and bone growth, as well as in-terms of regeneration and preservation and is vital to proper metabolic efficiency. While it is essential, as we age our levels dramatically decline, especially in men and this can lead to a host of problems. While our lifestyle can affect this end to a great deal a decline is inevitable in all and can lead to loss of strength, increased body-fat, decreased libido, erectile dysfunction, lack of mental clarity and even depression. This should give you a good idea as to how important this hormone is, as when levels are proper we thrive and when they are enhanced each aspect that is damaged when levels are low are just that, far enhanced when levels are high and beyond normal natural production.
Synthetic testosterone was first synthesized in the 1930’s thanks to German chemists Adolf Butenandt and Leopold Ruzicka which led to the hormone being mass produced and made ready for human use. The feat was so astounding that both Butenandt and Ruzicka received a Nobel Prize for their work and since that time testosterone knowledge and understanding has only grown.
From Butenandt and Ruzicka’s work many variations of the hormone have hit the shelves the past 100 years but there is an important note that must not be ignored; testosterone is simply testosterone, regardless of the form. While there are many forms, each form is comprised and compounded of the exact same hormone and the mode of action is the same with all, as its very nature is unchanged regardless of the form. As there are many forms the most common include Testosterone-Propionate, Testosterone-Enanthate, Testosterone-Cypionate, Testosterone-Suspension, as well as many various mixtures such as Sustanon-250 and Omnadren. While each form is pure testosterone its mode of action regarding release and duration will vary with each one as each has a different ester attached. The ester attached is not a hormone, it does not affect the direct mode of action; however, depending on the size of the ester, as they can range from large to small, the larger the ester the more mass it takes up in the compound; the smaller the ester the less mass it takes up thereby giving more active testosterone to the total compound. When you understand the benefits of testosterone, as we will discuss you can then largely understand the hormone; however, when you understand the various esters are differing and size and that they affect release and active duration, then you can understand fully and differentiate from one form to the next.
The Benefits of Testosterone
By its nature testosterone is both highly anabolic and androgenic and is as anabolic as it is androgenic. Through its mode of action testosterone increases nitrogen retention in the muscles thereby increasing protein synthesis and allowing more protein to be stored in the muscles. As protein is essential for both growth and muscle tissue preservation the advent of increased nitrogen retention is invaluable. In many ways this is one of the hormones most important functions as most who supplement with testosterone are doing so to enhance these attributes.
Testosterone also plays a vital role in our metabolic rate; first, by promoting muscle tissue growth we effectively increase our metabolic rate, as more tissue equals a greater metabolism. Further, there are many hormones in the body known as muscle destroying hormones, most notably cortisol; testosterone has the ability to stave off and block such hormones that promote fat gain and make losing stored body-fat very difficult.
While the benefits to testosterone use will vary depending on both individual response and dosing levels other benefits such as increased IGF 1 production, a peptide hormone of an incredible anabolic nature; increased red blood cell count thereby promoting endurance and performance to a greater degree. Further and often underappreciated, increased levels of testosterone greatly enhance our ability to recover from strenuous activity. The sooner and faster we recover the more efficient we are and in the world of athletics this is beyond a welcomed trait.
The Side-Effects of Testosterone
In healthy adult men, when used responsibly testosterone is generally very well-tolerated and easy to control in-terms of negative or adverse side-effects. While all anabolic androgenic steroids do carry with them possible negative side-effects it is important to keep in mind they are by no means guaranteed. All medications both steroidal and non-steroidal alike carry with them the possibility of negative side-effects; in-fact, many over the counter medications many use daily carry with them a much higher risk of side-effects than most all anabolic steroids and certainly testosterone.
Regardless of the form of testosterone you choose the possible negative side-effects remain the same with each one; however, some claim some forms are worse for them than others; however, this is largely mental deception as the active hormone is the same in each form. The most common side-effects to testosterone use are brought on by the hormones conversion to estrogen via the aromatase process. Due to this mode of action such side-effects as water retention or bloat, Gynecomastia (male breast enlargement) high blood pressure and cholesterol issues can be the most common. While each of these negative side-effects is a possibility, thankfully remedy and solutions to the problems are available and for the healthy and responsible user largely avoidable and of little concern. However, there is one side-effect that is absolutely assured in all men who supplement with testosterone regardless of their personal health; testicular atrophy. Through supplemental use of testosterone, any testosterone form, when exogenous testosterone enters the body natural production of the hormone is no longer necessary and production will necessarily come to a stop. As testosterone is produced in the testicles in men, once exogenous testosterone enters the body and natural production comes to a halt the testicles shrink; however, once exogenous use is discontinued and natural production begins again the testicles return to their normal size. In most cases testosterone production will return to its previous normal state assuming we have been using it responsibly; however, if you suffered from low testosterone before you began therapy your levels will only return to their previous low state. An important note, once we discontinue testosterone use there are things we can do to speed up the recovery process, this is generally known as a post cycle therapy (PCT) plan and such a plan is highly advised. The sooner you can obtain your normal natural testosterone production, wherever the level may fall the better off you’ll be and the more gains from the exogenous use you’ll be able to hold onto.
As estrogen related side-effects due to synthetic use can be very problematic there is a solution. As these effects are caused by the conversion process brought on by the aromatase enzyme, by supplementing with an aromatase inhibitor such as Arimidex or Letrozole we can greatly reduce such affects and many times completely eliminate them. Just as important, as it pertains to blood pressure, cholesterol and other similar actions, a healthy diet is imperative; diets that are sufficient in healthy Omega Fats as well as those who condition with regular cardiovascular training greatly reduce the chances of many negative effects commonly associated with many anabolic steroids including testosterone.
Testosterone & Other Steroids:
For most who stack various anabolic steroids, while a simple cycle of testosterone only can be greatly beneficial and highly effective many will inevitably want more. It is important to understand; most all anabolic androgenic steroids will suppress your natural testosterone production, although to varying degrees suppression will occur. For this reason it is of the utmost importance we supplement and build the foundation of our cycles around the testosterone hormone in order to keep at least some of the hormone in the body for proper function; not to mention, as we know it is highly beneficial.
Testosterone Cycles & Doses
No matter the goal, be it bulking, cutting or simply increasing athletic performance, you’ll be hard pressed to find another steroid more apt for the purpose(s) in such a well-tolerated manner than testosterone. While there is no set dose that is absolutely perfect there are guidelines and standards many go by that have proven to be both safe and effective. Most who are just beginning and who are looking for a performance edge will generally supplement with 400-500mg of testosterone per week. This is a very powerful and effective dose and the most easily controlled of all performance level dosing’s; so much so in each regard many veteran users rarely go over this amount. While 500mg is commonly used higher doses are far from rare; especially when you enter the realm of the hardcore trainer, particularly in power lifting and bodybuilding. 1,000mg is very common among these groups of people and 1,500mg per week is by no means unheard of in competitive circles. However, as there are risks you need to understand there is a very real risk to reward ratio; the greater the dose often the greater the results; however, the greater the dose the greater the potential is for negative side-effects. In the end responsible use will always prove to be best but always understand the effects of abuse are on you and you alone.
In terms of duration, how long testosterone use will last, this can vary a great deal as well but again there are proven methods. Generally most will find 8 weeks to be the minimum time frame for testosterone use with 12-16 weeks being far more optimal if positive benefits are not only going to be achieved but made permanent in any way. Yes, you can absolutely use testosterone longer than 16 weeks but again, be aware of the risk to reward ratio we spoke of just a few short moments ago as it not only applies to dosing but duration as well.