Q: “I’m 23 and interested in getting an edge with anabolic steroids, but have no professional aspirations either as an athlete or bodybuilder. I just want to be moderately bigger and stronger (I already lift heavy and consistent.) I don’t see why I need doses like theirs or why I’d need to shock my system in some weeks and then have recovery in others. Why not just all the time use a low dose such as doctors have prescribed for medical reasons? I think I’d be more comfortable with this.”
A: Well, a person can do that, but there are some reasons not to.
First, the body has feedback mechanisms where androgen and estrogen levels are sensed and the higher they are, the more that natural hormone production is cut back. For example, if injecting testosterone at a very moderate dose such as 100 mg/week, natural testosterone production is typically reduced to about half of normal, and where testosterone is injected at for example 200 mg/week, natural testosterone is typically reduced to about 1/3 of normal.
Where testosterone was deficient in the first place, the injections provide good improvements. But where testosterone was good in the first place and the person was simply looking for an edge, the resulting net increase of testosterone is very small. Most of the injected amount simply goes to replacing the lost natural production. (Natural production can be about equally effective as 200 mg/week by injection, even though the actual milligram amount is smaller.)
So in a way, taking small amounts such as 100-200 mg/week is giving with one hand but taking away nearly the same with the other. Meanwhile, your testicles become smaller and your LH production is suppressed.
Now actually that’s the simplest case. We can improve on it.
By using a non-aromatizing steroid or by using an antiaromatase to optimize estradiol level, it’s possible in very many cases to take 100-200 mg/week of an injectable steroid, or sometimes somewhat more, and still maintain normal LH and normal testosterone production. A small “edge” results which will slowly become noticeable over time.
However, there’s not a really large benefit from doing so.
The most important muscular benefits from anabolic steroid usage include triggering lasting changes in the muscle cells, such as increased nucleation and differentiation of satellite cells into mature myocytes. To trigger these changes, a threshold must be passed, and low dose steroid use just doesn’t accomplish this, or accomplishes very little of it.
Just a few cycles at typical bodybuilding doses – I don’t mean those of IFBB pro bodybuilders, but of typical successful steroid users – will, combined with proper training, trigger these changes to a very useful extent.
After that, you could see if you’d like to maintain with a subtle approach.
But for most, starting subtle from the beginning will not accomplish much.