How Much Time Should You Take Off Between Cycles/After PCT?
I get this question all the time.
Regardless of what suppressive anabolics you were on (SARMs, AAS, Prohormones, etc.) PCT is a necessity, and then there is a lot of ambiguity around the ideal amount of time off after PCT.
There is a common rule of thumb that goes around the bodybuilding community, and that rule is that “time on = time off.”
Now, what you have to consider first is that this rule was designed to be a general overarching guideline to follow that will be satisfactory the majority of the time, however, this does not mean that this is always the best course of action.
For those who are oblivious to how to read blood work or assess their state of health, it's a fairly safe rule in general, but you shouldn't fall into that category of individual anyways.
You want to know what is going on in your body, and if you don't know how to evaluate your general health markers, get a blood test and learn how, as you will need baseline blood work before starting a cycle anyways.
The ideal way to figure out how much time to take off after PCT lies in your current state of health after PCT.
If you PCT properly, there are a couple things you need to initially look at.
1. Did You Recover Fully After PCT?
Have your Testosterone levels returned to where they were pre-cycle (baseline)?
Is your libido feeling normal, do you have any erectile dysfunction, do you have any signs or symptoms of lack of proper recovery?
What does your blood work say, does your hormonal profile look exactly like it did pre-cycle? Or are you still not quite there?
This is the main thing you want to know first and foremost, as if you haven't had full endocrine recovery yet, then starting up a new cycle of heavily suppressive drugs is not in your best interests.
Some guys take longer than others to bounce back. As you get older, it will take longer to bounce back as well.
Just because you took your Nolvadex and Clomid for 4 weeks it doesn't mean that everything is just guaranteed to be back up to par.
You need to have pre-cycle baseline bloods to cross reference with your post-cycle bloods to make a true and accurate assessment if you have truly recovered after PCT.
Total Testosterone, Free Testosterone, Estrogen, Prolactin, is everything that could have been suppressed on cycle (depending what compounds you were using) back to where it was pre-cycle? Were your pre-cycle bloods healthy in the first place?
Did you take T3 during a cut cycle? Get your TSH, T4, and T3 levels checked too.
Were you pounding tons of high-glycemic carbs during a manic dirty bulk phase?
Have you been using GH for a long span of time?
What do your fasting blood glucose levels look like now?
Are they healthy? Or are you pre-diabetic now and you don't even realize it and are about to hop into another mega-dosed cycle with GH and insulin in it?
There are many things that need to be accounted for before you just put your head down and go full tilt again on the good ol' sauzule my friend, and many of these things go totally disregarded.
Don't be that guy, get your sh*t sorted and know for a fact after PCT you are in a primed level of recovery before going into your next heavy duty run.
You want to get back to an ideal natural state that looks like this:
- High-normal Testosterone levels
- Non-elevated Estrogen in the 20-30 pg/ml range
- In range TSH, T4 and T3 levels
- Healthy fasting blood sugar levels
^ If any of these are unattainable, then you should be looking into getting those addressed and fixed before starting a new cycle of supraphysiological PED's.
2. Blood Work + Health Markers After PCT
Even if you have fully recovered endocrine function, your Testosterone levels are back up and everything is firing on all cylinders, the other equally important factor you need to consider is an assessment of your state of health.
How's your blood pressure?
What is your red blood cell count and what are your hematocrit levels?
What does your lipid profile look like (LDL and HDL cholesterol levels)?
Do you have elevated liver enzymes?
How are your kidneys doing?
Do you have any ventricular enlargement or signs of cardiovascular stress?
These are just some of the main things you should be looking at extensively prior to starting any performance enhancing drugs.
A lot of guys will assume “my testosterone levels have come back and my balls look full again so I'm good to go to hop back on again”.
This is not always the case.
E.G. if you have borderline stage 2 hypertension, and then you hop on a cycle of Testosterone with some Deca and Dbol and your systolic and diastolic jumps up 30 points a piece, now you've taken yourself from the cautionary/borderline dangerous zone to holy Jesus get your blood pressure fixed immediately or else you will end up with renal failure, a stroke, a heart attack, or a myriad of other possibilities.
The point is, if you have a pre-existing medical issue, and you don't have perfect bloods or health in general prior to starting a cycle you need to get that fixed before you even consider starting something new.
And when you're on cycle ideally you want to only use compounds that your body responds favourably to from a health perspective as well.
If you can't take Dbol without getting nosebleeds several times a day and your blood pressure jumping up 30 points, don't use Dbol! Use something else that doesn't make you a ticking time bomb.
So, time on DOES NOT = time off
Time off = however much time it takes after PCT for your natural endocrine function to return to baseline AND for you to get back to perfect blood work and an overall state of good health.