In short, as much as prohormones are anabolic (directly increase the rate at which new muscle is formed), they are also very much anti-catabolic (reduce the loss of muscle). By both reducing muscle loss and increasing muscle gain the net effect is obviously vastly superior muscle gains. Unfortunately, once you remove the prohormone from the equation there is a rapid rise in cortisol and this happens at a time when anabolic hormones such as testosterone (or similar androgens) are not only down from their peak on cycle, but below the baseline level they would be before you took the prohormone. This means you have a situation where you go from vastly inflated anabolic and anti-catabolic effects to one where anabolism is minimal and catabolic actions leading to muscle loss are very high.
If you ever wondered why so many prohormone users lose so much muscle so quickly at the end of their cycle then this is a clear consequence of failing to take action to remedy this type of situation. The use of ingredients such as 5-AT, Phosphatidylserine, 7-OXO, Dehydroabietic Acid , Vitamin C and Ashwagandha are commonly used to address the problem of high cortisol among many others with more ingredients being discovered all the time to help modulate cortisol. Libido or sex drive may at first glance be considered more of a means to make yourself feel psychologically better post cycle. While there is an element of this, an increased libido is a sign that the body is working optimally and is a signal that a normal hormonal environment is likely to have been attained. Furthermore, libido is very tightly linked with mood and as such a key requirement of a post cycle therapy protocol as a lowered libido and mood is liable to cause trainees to make bad choices on their diet as well as being less likely to exercise. At the extreme end, some may choose to abuse recreational drugs such as cannabis or cocaine to help address some of the issues seen with libido and mood. Regardless of any temporary effects they may confer on libido and mood, these are disastrous choices during PCT with the former increasing estrogen and lowering testosterone while the latter is immensely catabolic and detrimental to both testosterone and other anabolic processes such as sleep. The obvious conclusion many will draw is to simply take a testosterone booster described previously to address these issues but testosterone by itself is not sufficient to increase libido as can be seen in anabolic steroid users abusing testosterone for a long time who often find that they eventually experience diminished sexual desire and function.
Indeed, the key element that a libido/mood focused supplement regimen should focus on is the neurotransmitter dopamine, which is released in limited quantities only naturally such as when you may eat some chocolate or have an orgasm but which can be boosted significantly if someone is using a drug such as cocaine and the reason why that drug has been used by some people as an aphrodisiac. Of course, cocaine is disastrous in many ways and can never be recommended to anyone under any circumstances but the point remains that by harnessing the power of dopamine, we are able to boost both libido and mood and make our post cycle therapy more productive. To boost dopamine, we have a relatively limited amount of nutrients and unlike class A drugs like cocaine they work to produce sustainable increases in dopamine and as a further benefit, they can also enhance neurocognitive processes and act as neuroprotectants. While ingredients such as mucuna pruriens may have some promise as a way to boost dopamine, there is one standout ingredient in this category and that is 9-methyl-beta-carboline. Not only has it got clinical research supporting its efficacy in promotiong focus, memory, concentration, libido, respiratory efficency and mood, it also stimulates neuron and neurite growth as well as enhancing dopaminergic action. Best of all, this is not a stimulant at all so works better the longer it is used and both boosts cognitive and physical functions for the long run. Exclusively manufactured by Hydrapharm, their 9-MBC product is the perfect choice to combat post-cycle blues in general. As another option for users looking for alternative options, look for any testosterone boosting supplement that features mucuna pruriens or trans-resveratrol, both shown to support mood and libido while Bulgarian sourced tribulus terrestris has a huge amount of empirical and clinical evidence supporting its libido boosting properties (although it is commonly marketed as a testosterone booster, it is nowadays becoming accepted that it is essentially a mood and libido booster which exerts its effects via dopaminergic pathways). Popular Products for Mood and Libido Support Include. Athletes will to a varying degree accept the need for the management of the hormones and neurotransmitters described previously but arguably the biggest and most misunderstood determinant of how much muscle you maintain after a cycle is nothing to do with hormonal status but instead the degree to which your muscles are subjected to forces that encourage them to maintain their newly acquired size. We lift weights to gain muscle and the more our strength goes up the more we gain all other things being equal. Our article on optimising prohormone cycles goes into more depth on the various overlooked dietary and training considerations when running a prohormone cycle but suffice it to say that most people train in a way on cycle that is not conducive at all to maintaining their strength and muscle mass during post cycle therapy. A big factor in keeping muscle gains is to try your best to keep your weights up post-cycle, or, if at all possible, even try to increase your strength post-cycle, as strength is a powerful signal to the body telling it to maintain muscle mass. We have discussed the dietary and training strategies in the article described above but there are also a variety of supplemental approaches which can be deployed to improve strength either through the use of ergogenics compounds such as creatine, beta-alanine, or the use of preworkouts based around stimulants and nootropics that help to increase strength. If using stimulant based preworkouts, it is advised to not use them while using prohormones as they are best used when they have not been used for some time as your tolerance to them is so low even a small amount will provide a huge boost to strength – possibly enough to meet or even beat the strength feats you achieved without stimulants while on a prohormone cycle. Popular Ergogenics Include: Popular Preworkouts to Boost Performance Include: We can pretty much guarantee that if a user of a prohormone omits to take any stimulants at all during their cycle and then runs any of these for one month after their cycle, they should be able to maintain or even exceed their strength which, providing it is accompanied by a reduction in training volume (to take into account diminished recovery ability during PCT) is an excellent way to maintain most or all of their gains. Hydrazine is by far our most popular and best rated preworkout supplement. This should be an obvious one really but it is something that too many trainees omit. During a prohormone cycle you will place extra strain on your body systems so it is important to restore optimal health as rapidly as possible. Apart from the obvious, this will help your body to help retain muscle gains since a healthy body is one which will recover sooner. You should also take these products whilst on cycle, particularly if using a methylated prohormone. A host of ingredients such as minerals/vitamins, fish oils, adaptogens such as Ginseng and Rhodiola Rosea, liver support substances such as TUDCA and Milk Thistle can be employed to restore health. Popular Health Supplements Include: The focus when selecting a cycle support or post cycle support product should be to pay attention to liver support as the priority if you are using a methylated prohormone. Otherwise, an all-purpose product which supports blood lipids, the cardiovascular system and so on is a smart choice especially if it also takes into account elements such as estrogen control. Nobody wants to gain loads of muscle only to get fat after their prohormone cycle is over.
At the same time it is not advised to rely too much on stimulants to prevent fat gain as we could end up eating too little, or, by releasing too many catecholamines (adrenealine like hormones), actually cause increased stress levels which is the last thing we want post cycle. Besides, stimulants should be used sparingly to maintain/increase strength before workouts not used every day.
Therefore, if you are using such products, it would be best to spare them for your most intense workout sessions. It is important to remember that we are trying to limit fat gain, but not go on a diet or starve ourselves (which will rapidly lead us to lose all our muscle gains given both the calorific deficit and negative hormonal environment during PCT). It is better to employ ingredients which can limit fat gain, causing some fat loss without any of the problems of overuse of stimulants. As such staple ingredients should include the likes of 7-hydroxy-4-imidazolyl-flavan, Forskolin, 7-OXO, Maslinic Acid, Ursolic Acid, Ecklonia Cava, Berberine and even fish oils all of which can help enhance body composition but without causing negative effects on muscle mass.