Q: “How much mass gains can be expected in a steroid cycle? Obviously later cycles won’t yield as much as the first cycle, but overall how does it work?”
A: In a first cycle, retained muscle gains can be as high as 10 lb for the first two weeks of use, or 20 lb or somewhat better for 8 weeks of use. This is assuming well-constructed cycles and appropriate eating.
In the two-week cycle case, the novice can typically get another 5 lb of retained muscle mass per cycle, up to at least the 25 lb net gain point.
In the eight-week cycle case, a second cycle will often yield only another 5-10 lb of retained muscle mass.
Once retained gains have reached typically 25-30 lb over natural best, then further gains typically will slow greatly. This really isn’t because of the number of cycles done, but because of how far one has gone past one’s natural maximum. These numbers are not hard limits. Some do much better.
At some point, gains may very well slow to for example 3 lb per year. For example, that was Lee Haney’s average between his first and last Mr Olympia.
Where major losses have occurred, regains can be very fast, just as fast as beginner gains or even moreso. Slight losses from one’s peak however are often slow to be regained.
In all cases, by retained muscle gains I mean the difference in bodyweight when “off” where bodyfat is equal, or in LBM when “off” if correction is being made for bodyfat changes.
During the cycle itself, bodyweight can be 8-10 lb or so greater than this, due to increases in water retention in the muscles. This weight is rapidly lost at the end of the cycle, and doesn’t represent actual increase in contractile protein. But it is scale weight that is readily noticed during the cycle, and which enhances muscular appearance.