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The Bodybuilder’s Guide to PCT: Maximizing Your Post-Cycle Results

MuscleMecca Crew

MuscleMecca Crew

MuscleMecca Crew
May 11, 2012
Some bodybuilders take performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs) to enhance their muscle growth, which they take in cycles. Almost all types of PEDs alter hormone production to provide the best results on the physique. If you’re considering using PEDs, you need post-cycle therapy–a cycle where you bring back the natural production of hormones.

PCT is necessary to maintain your gains and protect your overall well-being, even if you have taken PEDs or any anabolic steroid. Though fitness experts do not recommend the use of PEDs, it is still necessary that you know the importance of post-cycle therapy to help you stay safe if you currently take anabolic steroids for your fitness journey.

Understanding PCT in Bodybuilding​

Post-cycle therapy refers to the regimen after taking a cycle of anabolic steroids. The primary goal of PCT is to restore natural hormonal functions altered by the previous steroid cycle. Like a steroid cycle, PCT also includes supplements to balance the hormones and minimize muscle loss. It also effectively minimizes the adverse effects of an anabolic steroid cycle.

PCT duration may last up to six weeks, depending on the supplements taken. Usually, taking SERMs during PCT has a shorter period than over-the-counter PCT supplements.

The body receives synthetic steroids during a steroid cycle to increase muscle mass and strength. However, it also affects the natural production of testosterone. This sudden drop in testosterone levels causes the potential side effects of the anabolic steroid.

PCT counteracts these effects by restoring the natural hormonal balance and facilitates the body’s recovery from the anabolic steroid cycle.

The Importance of PCT in Bodybuilding​

One of the primary roles of PCT in the steroid cycle is how it supports the recovery process after an intense workout. It provides better protein synthesis, cell repair, and muscle tissue regeneration.

Bodybuilders who don’t have a well-structured PCT plan may experience estrogenic side effects, decreased performance, and psychological effects. Continuous neglect of PCT may lead to long-term hormonal dysfunction, lower bone density, and adverse effects on cardiovascular health.

Since testosterone levels come extremely low after a steroid cycle, skipping PCT may also result in catabolism. In this case, you’ll waste your training efforts since your body will break down the muscle tissue instead of preserving it.

Guide to PCT

Components of PCT​

A bodybuilder may take different types of supplements during the PCT phase. These supplements work to restore the natural balance of testosterone and minimize the risks of side effects of anabolic steroid use.

Selective Estrogen Receptor Modulators (SERMs)​

Generally, SERMs are medications that treat reproductive problems in women. But SERMs also showed benefits that aid during the post-cycle therapy in bodybuilding. It stimulates testosterone production and regulates estrogen levels to reduce gynecomastia risks and water retention.

If you plan to take SERMs, the most common brands you may notice are Clomid and Novaldex. SERMs aid recovery but pose side effects like blurred vision, acne breakout, and mood swings. Bodybuilders experience the most side effects from Clomid since it is one of the most potent SERMs.

Aromatase Inhibitors (AIs)​

Aromatase inhibitors work like SERMs regarding the estrogenic effects of anabolic steroids. But instead of blocking the estrogen, AIs only reduce the amount of estrogen in the body by stopping the conversion of androgens into estrogen. Because of this, a bodybuilder may have a healthier estrogen-to-testosterone ratio.

Taking AIs during PCT requires the supervision of a medical professional. Excessive suppression of estrogen levels may also have negative consequences on the body.

Testosterone Boosters​

As a component of PCT, testosterone boosters help increase its levels that have dropped during the anabolic steroid cycle. They typically contain ingredients that support the release of luteinizing hormones and follicle-stimulating hormones that play an essential role in testosterone synthesis.

Because it increases testosterone levels, boosters enhance protein synthesis, supporting muscle repair and growth. They may also contribute to improving energy levels and enhancing mood and motivation.

Implementing PCT in Bodybuilding​

Knowing when to start PCT is a critical factor in ensuring its effectiveness. It depends on the steroids used during the cycle–its compounds, half-lives, and duration. The most recommended time to start PCT is when you have cleared your bloodstream from steroid strains. You can measure it based on the half-life of the longest-acting steroid in your cycle.

It is also essential to plan your PCT according to your training program. During this phase, your body will have different demands depending on your routine. An experienced PCT specialist may help determine which components and dosage suit your training program. You should not alter the recommended regimen during PCT since it can affect your recovery process.

You should also track your hormone levels regularly to maintain their normal levels. Knowing whether your regimen is effective will help the PCT expert adjust or change the components and their dosage.

Aside from taking the appropriate components, you must have a consistent workout routine starting at low intensity. Returning to a high-intensity workout while on PCT may increase the risk of injuries since your body must first adjust from the strength suppression that stopped after your anabolic steroid cycle.

Potential Risks in Bodybuilding​

While PCT is beneficial for your steroid cycle, misuse or taking the wrong dosage may lead to potential risks that may block the benefits of this phase. Here are the most common possible risks you may experience from taking the wrong component or dosage.

Imbalance on Estrogen Levels​

SERMs and AIs regulate your estrogen levels, but misusing them can suppress them. This estrogen deficiency may result in joint pains, mood swings, and decreased libido. You should know how your body reacts to SERMs and AIs to ensure your estrogen levels remain normal and avoid these possible side effects.

Liver Strain​

The components of PCT usually come in the form of pills or tablets, wherein your liver absorbs them. When you use these oral supplements for prolonged periods, your liver increases its workload since they metabolize and clear the drugs from your body. You should have regular blood tests and medical consultations with healthcare providers to prevent liver strain.

Allergic Reaction​

Allergic reactions may occur due to the components’ active ingredients. Some bodybuilders are hypersensitive regarding medications, and having an allergic reaction may come in mild or severe situations. These allergic reactions may range from respiratory issues to hives, rashes, or nausea. In rare cases, you may experience a more severe allergic reaction like anaphylaxis.

PCT in Bodybuilding

Real-World Examples and Testimonials​

Dave Palumbo, of of the most famous bodybuilders in the industry, is more concerned about the health risks of heavy steroid cycles. In a video on YouTube, he stressed that a bodybuilder should not worry about getting off a cycle. He mentioned the importance of resting the liver and kidneys rather than keeping them overstimulated with steroids.

Another professional bodybuilder, Lee Priest, tells his off-season routine in an interview on YouTube. He says he’s on a cycle for up to 16 weeks but goes off-cycle for months. During his off-cycle phase, he eats a lot of food and trains hard to maintain his gains. He advises that bodybuilders avoid losing muscle mass during off-cycle since they can maintain it with a proper diet and consistent training.


If you’re on a heavy steroid cycle, post-cycle therapy is a regimen that you should not neglect. It is essential to the cycle, allowing your body to rest from heavy anabolic steroids and minimizing their potential adverse effects. A successful PTC will require the help of a medical professional since they can help you understand which component and its dosage are appropriate based on the supplements you used during your on-cycle phase.

Frequently Asked Questions​

How long should I be on PCT?​

It will depend on the component you use, which a medical professional will advise you on. Usually, AIs take from two to four weeks, while SERMs take up to six weeks during the off-cycle phase.

Will I lose my gains when I am on PCT?​

No. When you do PCT correctly, you can retain muscle gains during your on-cycle phase. You will still have training routines on PCT, but they are less intense than during your on-cycle phase.

Which component should I take when I am on PCT?​

You need to consult a healthcare professional or a PCT expert to determine which component to take. Usually, they recommend aromatase inhibitors if you use anabolic steroids that convert to estrogen, SERMs if you need to block estrogen receptors, or a testosterone booster if you need to recover from a testosterone deficiency.