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Bodybuilding: A Beginners Guide to Post Cycle Therapy

Bodybuilding: A Beginners Guide to Post Cycle Therapy

What is the importance of post cycle therapy?

If you look back into the 1930s, professional bodybuilders looked like the average gym rats of today, but once the first injectable version of exogenous testosterone was discovered in 1935, everything changed overnight. Testosterone, the granddaddy of anabolic steroids would eventually pave the way for more powerful hormonal derivatives in the years to come. 

The evolution of bodybuilding as a sport has a lot to do with the evolution of anabolic androgenic steroids.

More than 90 years later, in a time when there is unlimited access to literature about everything you need to know about bodybuilding, we consistently hear stories about the same mistakes being made repeatedly by people who are new to the sport.

Just the other day, there was an article about a young man who had completed his first steroid cycle. He didn’t have the slightest idea about the importance of Post Cycle Therapy (PCT). Not surprisingly, he stopped the cycle prematurely and was met with severe bloating, gynecomastia, and hair loss.  

If you’re planning to run anabolic androgenic steroids you need to understand Post Cycle Therapy. This is a great time to review our beginner’s guide to PCT.

First, what happens to your body on a cycle?

There is a sudden influx of androgenic hormones (like Testosterone or DHT), which completely alters the body’s hormonal balance. The body attempts to adjust by shutting down the production of testosterone. That’s not a problem as long as your body is receiving exogenous testosterone.

With this hormonal change, you will feel and perform at your best. However, when you finish the cycle, you can face what is known as The Hormonal Crash. 

This is when the levels of LH (Luteinizing Hormone) and FSH (Follicle Stimulating Hormone) plummet along with the levels of testosterone. Think of it like crashing down to the ground from the top of a skyscraper.

Almost instantly, Cortisol levels will rise back to the normal levels and so will SHBG (Sex Hormone Binding Globulin). Estrogen will rise. If left unhindered, these hormones will cannibalize on your freshly earned muscle, leaving you with nothing to show for the cycle. In addition, it causes havoc on your mental state. 

It is crucial that you restore the levels of LH, FSH and Testosterone to their normal levels as soon as possible to prevent your muscle from breaking down and to have enough energy to perform normally in everyday life.

What is Post Cycle Therapy (PCT)?

PCT is a method used in hormonal recovery of a bodybuilder’s body after a cycle. It is a full-on transition period where you take your body back to homeostasis and you return to normal hormone production.

It is an essential part of your entire bodybuilding process. Similar to a bulking/cutting split, PCT preserves your gains and keeps you healthy.

There are three effective compounds that help restore your natural hormone system.

  • HCG

  • Clomid

  • Nolvadex

HCG: A Precursor for PTC

HCG – Human Chorionic Gonadotropin – is not a steroid. It’s a natural peptide hormone which develops in the placenta of pregnant women during pregnancy to controls the mother’s hormones.

When it comes to post cycle therapy, HCG is great as a precursor to post cycle therapy, as it reestablishes your testosterone production levels from the testicles.

During long steroid or prohormone cycles, it’s good to use HCG to maintain the size of your testicles or to recover from atrophied testicles. HCG is a natural stimulant to the Leydig cells in the testes, which releases androgen hormones, such as testosterone. HCG serves to that tells the Leydig cells to create more testosterone. 

Men who are bodybuilders sometimes also use HCG with a very low-calorie diet to burn off that extra layer of fat over their muscles, giving them an extremely defined look. Women may also use HCG with a very low-calorie diet to burn off unwanted fat.

Clomid in Post Cycle Therapy

Clomid is often used as a PCT to accelerate the recovery of the natural production of testosterone. It is one of the most effective compounds to help restore the natural hormone system. 

Clomid helps to fire up your testes to start producing testosterone again.

After stopping the use of steroids, the natural synthesis of testosterone begins to gradually recover, but the complete recovery takes quite a long time: from several months to a year. Clomid is a selective estrogen receptor modulator (SERM) that can help block estrogen and stimulate testosterone production in the testes.

But using Clomid as a PCT can have side effects like mood swings and vision problems. It’s rare for any of these effects to be serious, but it’s still a good idea to keep an eye on your health when using this drug for PCT.

Clomid is often used together with Nolvadex during PCT.

Nolvadex in Post Cycle Therapy

Nolvadex is also a selective estrogen receptor modulator (SERM) that is typically used to treat and help prevent breast cancer. This popular SERM naturally increases testosterone production. Nolvadex is both a safe and efficient way to restore your natural hormone creation within the body. 

In the bodybuilding world, Nolvadex is used during post-cycle therapy to help suppress estrogen. 

Men coming off a steroid cycle often use both Clomid and Nolvadex to get their body back to homeostasis and get their T-levels back to normal.

Some side effects may include upset stomach, skin irritation, nausea, depression, anxiety, and loss of libido. However, because the drug is predominantly used to treat breast cancer, most effects are associated with females who take Nolvadex for a much longer period of time. When used for PCT, the side effects tend to be minimal. 


The benefits of post cycle therapy vastly outweigh the potential side effects, and there are more adverse complications that can occur if you don’t do post cycle therapy.

  • Your PTC is just as crucial as your actual cycle

  • Use HCG as a precursor to your PTC

  • Use Clomid and/or Nolvadex to get your get their body back to homeostasis

  • Work with a medical professional to develop a dosage and timing schedule

Preserve your gains and maximize muscle retention with post cycle therapy. Our expert team is here to help answer your questions and get you started on your PCT path. 


About the author

Dr. Richard Smith, MD

7 min read