Best Steroid Cycles for Lean Mass and Legal Alternatives

best steroid cycle for lean mass

Illegal steroids are commonly used in bodybuilding due to their ability to put on muscle mass fast. However, this can come with the addition of multiple short and long-term side-effects.

One of the side effects is not just muscle but also fat gain and water retention. This is why gym rat are often looking for the best best steroid cycles for lean mass and muscle gain.

Some of the best bodybuilders to have graced the sport have followed a steroid protocol, enabling them to build huge amounts of muscle mass, without excessive amounts of fluid surrounding the outside of their muscle cells (which can obscure muscle definition). Such bodybuilders are a dying breed, unlike the Mr. Olympia Pro’s of today who don’t care about gaining water; as long as they’re packing on more mass.

Here’s a few bodybuilders who ran solid steroid cycles for LEAN muscle gains:

  • Arnold Schwarzenegger
  • Franco Colombu
  • Frank Zane
  • Lou Ferrigno
  • Serge Nubret

Plus many other classic bodybuilders from this golden era.

So, what’s the best steroid cycle for lean muscle gain? Anabolic steroids are dangerous and illegal which is why we have suggested legal alternatives instead.

Warning: The content on and the information included in this article is intended for entertainment and informational purposes only. It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Prior to buying anything, check that it is compliant where you live with your current government laws. We frequently mention research chemicals that are not made for human consumption. Therefore, before purchasing any product for personal use, consult with your doctor or healthcare provider first.

Trenbolone Alternative
Trenorol By Crazy Bulk
  • Formulated to promote increased nitrogen in the muscle tissue and to enhance vascularity by increasing production of red blood cells
  • Recreates the effects of Trenbolone โ€“ extreme muscle, strength and power gains
  • Safe to use formula, suitable for both bulking and cutting cycles

Trenbolone is predominantly a bulking steroid which doesn’t cause any water retention.

In fact, the opposite is true, trenbolone will actually cause you to lose water – making you look even more shredded, whilst your packing on muscle for fun.

Trenbolone also has some fat-burning properties, ensuring you don’t accumulate any fat, whilst generously eating on a cycle. The reason trenbolone can burn fat is because it’s able to decrease cortisol levels, which is the stress hormone responsible for causing fat storage.

Trenbolone will also result in epic 3D rounded shoulders and traps that pop out to the sky – Phil Heath style.

Performance Lab Supplements Review
Testosterone Alternative
Best Testosterone Supplement
  • Contains vitamin D, K2, Mg, Zn, and Boron
  • Contains Ashwagandha
  • Contains Mucina Pruriens
  • Plant-based and vegetarian friendly

Testosterone is the only other bulking steroid that you can use to gain huge amounts of muscle, without turning into a human hippo. Aka it doesn’t cause crazy amounts of water retention that other compounds such as anadrol or dianabol can cause.

Testosterone actually increases muscle hardness and like trenbolone can cause fat loss too; hence how some bodybuilders use testosterone when dieting hard for a competition.

Test will result in some fluid retention, but this won’t be anything drastic. At the same time though testosterone isn’t a diuretic and thus won’t cause you to lose any water weight (like trenbolone can).

Testosterone is also very popular for beginners as it’s not as taxing on your internal organs as other AAS. Despite this, you should still have regular health checks, making sure you’re as healthy as possible (if you are going to take steroids).

Best Steroid Cycle for Lean Muscle Gain

Taking testosterone and trenbolone together is one of the best bulking cycles any bodybuilder can do. If you want to look dry and aesthetic too, this duo will also deliver on that promise.

Stacking these 2 steroids together will give a user HUGE size gains, and if that’s not enough, you’ll also develop strength even Hercules would be envious of.

Here’s how a typical cycle would look:

Testosterone – 12 weeks

Trenbolone – 8 weeks

A standard steroid protocol is to take trenbolone for 4 weeks first, then add testosterone after this period for the remaining 8 weeks of your cycle.

The only possible drawback that may happen on this cycle is if you don’t tolerate trenbolone very well. Tren’s a pretty toxic steroid; almost certain to cause some physical and mental side effects. These include: anxiety, paranoia, insomnia and high blood pressure.

If you do experience any adverse effects, which become severe at any point, reduce your dose or stop your cycle. Alternatively you you may find it safer and more comfortable implementing shorter cycles to eliminate such reactions in the future. Generally the longer you take a steroid for, the more likely it is to negatively affect you.

Other Steroids for Lean Muscle Gain

Anadrol Alternative
Anadrole By Crazy Bulk
  • See extreme muscle gains and enhance stamina and strength so you can work out longer and harder
  • Quicken your post-workout recovery so you can get to your next workout sooner
  • Boost gains at the start of a cycle and increase the flow of oxygen to the muscles by enhancing red blood cell production

Anadrol is an incredibly powerful steroid when it comes to building mass. If you want to build muscle and size ASAP, and you don’t care about gaining water retention, anadrol is arguably the best AAS for the job.

However, if you’re concerned about looking puffy or bloated and want to remain looking aesthetic, then trenbolone or/and testosterone are better options.

It’s worth noting that the fluid accumulation you’ll experience on anadrol will diminish after your cycle finishes, so this is something to consider if it’s the off season and you don’t mind gaining 10lbs of water weight; in order to look your best in a few months. When it comes to building muscle tissue – anadrol is superior to testosterone and many other anabolic steroids.

Dianabol Alternative
D-bal By Crazy Bulk
  • Enhances nitrogen retention and increases protein production
  • Activates the process known as protein synthesis
  • Improves your overall focus and drive

Dianabol is similar to anadrol, but is less harsh and you won’t experience as many side effects. Like anadrol you’ll experience some water retention (typically more than testosterone/trenbolone), but if you’re taking a sensible dose – this isn’t going to be anything too extreme.

In terms of muscle gains (in relation to side effects), oral dianabol is up there as one of the best AAS on the black market. It’s not overly harsh and has proven to be one of the best steroids you can utilize for building muscle (which has remained the same for the last 50 years).


Taking trenbolone and testosterone together whilst eating large quantities of food is without a doubt classed as a powerful bulking cycle.

There’s no debating these are some of most powerful steroids in the world for piling on mass. Usually people think of a bulking cycle taking place in the off-season/winter; but bodybuilders also often run testosterone and trenbolone in the summer when it’s beach season.

This is because they won’t cause any water retention and have the ability to reduce a users body fat percentage.

Building muscle and burning fat at the same time is a very ambitious goal in the bodybuilding world; but it’s very possible when running testosterone and trenbolone in a cycle together.

2 More Effective Steroids:

Winstrol and human growth hormone are two very coveted compounds in bodybuilding. They have many different attributes and building lean muscle is one of them.

However, these 2 steroids above won’t build nearly as much mass as trenbolone or testosterone. For this reason (and because they’re both effective fat burners) they can also be used for cutting.

If your goal isn’t to build 30lbs of muscle, and you just want to gain a little bit of size (such as 10lbs), winstrol is a popular steroid used by many bodybuilders (especially if you want to burn fat simultaneously).

Human growth hormone isn’t technically a steroid, but it will help you build some muscle. However, this isn’t likely to be anything huge unless you take insulin with it, which maximizes its effect. If your goal is to look aesthetic, this combo isn’t recommended as insulin & HGH can result in a steroid gut – where your waist starts to protrude and stick out.

Best Steroid for Lean Muscle

The best steroid for lean mass, according to many experienced bodybuilders, is Dianabol. This was the steroid of choice for many of the stars of the golden age of bodybuilding in the 1970s, including Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sergio Oliva. Also known as Methandrostenolone, Dianabol is a potent oral steroid. That makes it popular among bodybuilders who are keen to make lean muscle gains without having to inject themselves like a pincushion.

As well as helping you to make lean muscle gains, Dianabol will also enhance athletic performance and strength levels. It will also provide you with  more energy for your workout. Then, after the workout, it will boost your recovery.

You should be aware that gas and bloating are common side effects with Dianabol.

Dianabol Steroid Cycles for Lean Mass

The following Dianabol cycle is a good beginner protocol for making lean muscle gains. It involves taking 25 mg per day over an 8 week cycle:

  • Week 1: 25 mg Dianabol per day
  • Week 2: 25 mg Dianabol per day
  • Week 3: 25 mg Dianabol per day
  • Week 4: 25 mg Dianabol per day
  • Week 5: 25 mg Dianabol per day
  • Week 6: 25 mg Dianabol per day
  • Week 7: 25 mg Dianabol per day
  • Week 8: 25 mg Dianabol per day

Lean Bulk Cycle

If you goal is to add lean bulk to your frame in the shortest possible time, then taking a cycle of Deca Durabolin is a good bet for you. Deca is also known as Nandrolone Decanoate. Some people have been known to pack on as much as 20 pounds of lean muscular bulk over a 10 week cycle of Deca. A positive side effect of Deca is that it will help to enhance your joint functioning.

Deca does aromatize  but at very low levels. As a result it has a low estrogen conversion rate, making it a relatively safe lean bulking steroid.

Best Lean Bulk Cycle

The following 10 week lean bulking cycle is an effective protocol for packing on lean bulk. Be sure to train at full intensity 4-5 times per week and to get plenty of rest while also increasing your caloric intake to at least 500 calories above your daily maintenance level while following this cycle.

  • Week One: 200mg per week
  • Week Two: 200mg per week
  • Week Three: 200mg per week
  • Week Four: 300mg per week
  • Week Five: 300mg per week
  • Week Six: 300mg per week
  • Week Seven: 300mg per week
  • Week Eight: 400mg per week
  • Week Nine: 400mg per week
  • Week Ten: 400mg per week

Best Cycle for Lean Mass and Strength

There are many cycles for lean mass and strength. One of the best involves testosterone cypionate. As well as packing on lean mass and boosting strength levels, test cypionate will improve workout recovery and increase endurance levels. It can be used for both bulking and cutting cycles.

Testosterone cypionate enhances the production of lutenizing hormone, which, in turn, boosts the body’s natural production of testosterone.

There are a number of side effects associated with Testosterone cypionate use including male pattern baldness, gynecomastia, acne, water retention and uncontrollable erections.

For an effective lean mass, strength stack pair Testosterone cypionate with Equipoise, which will ensure that you put on fat free muscle. Here is a sample 12 week stack:

  • Week One: Test cypionate – 400 mg per week: Equipoise – 400 mg per week
  • Week Two: Test cypionate – 400 mg per week: Equipoise – 400 mg per week
  • Week Three: Test cypionate – 400 mg per week: Equipoise – 400 mg per week
  • Week Four: Test cypionate – 400 mg per week: Equipoise – 400 mg per week
  • Week Five: Test cypionate – 400 mg per week: Equipoise – 400 mg per week
  • Week Six: Test cypionate – 400 mg per week: Equipoise – 400 mg per week
  • Week Seven: Test cypionate – 400 mg per week: Equipoise – 400 mg per week
  • Week Eight: Test cypionate – 400 mg per week: Equipoise – 400 mg per week
  • Week Nine: Test cypionate – 400 mg per week: Equipoise – 400 mg per week
  • Week Ten: Test cypionate – 400 mg per week: Equipoise – 400 mg per week
  • Week Eleven: Test cypionate – 400 mg per week: Equipoise – 400 mg per week
  • Week Twelve: Test cypionate – 400 mg per week: Equipoise – 400 mg per week

Anabolic steroids are a synthetic version of the male sex hormone testosterone. It provides both anabolic (muscle building) and androgenic (masculine sexual characteristic enhancing) effects. The increased testosterone level affects protein synthesis that facilitates the rapid building of the muscle. It also helps the body to make optimal use of the calories it gets from food to make you bigger and stronger.[1]

Legal mass building steroids attempt to closely replicate the effects of illegal steroids. They do this by bringing together a range of natural herbal and other compounds to work together to produce a testosterone boosting effect. They also attempt to increase the bodyโ€™s natural production of human growth hormone (HGH), which is another power muscle mass enhancer.[2]

Legal mass builders will often be given names that sound almost identical to the actual illegal steroid that they are trying to mimic. For example, one of the very first legal steroids, put out by SDI Labs in the year 2000, was D-Bol, which was based on the steroid Dianabol, colloquially shortened to โ€˜D-Balโ€™

What Sort of Results Can You Expect?

The first thing you need to understand is that legal steroids will NEVER give you the same sort of results as you will get from illegal steroids. Anyone who tells you otherwise is lying. That being said, the vast majority of legal steroid websites will make that very claim. The next thing you should understand is that legal steroids will do nothing but waste your money unless you follow all of the advice in the section below on nutrition and weight training.

So, given that you are eating right for mass gain and training smartly and consistently, what can you expect? It is realistic to have a lean muscle gain of a pound per month. If you are genetically gifted that may increase to a pound and a half. That may not sound like much, but it equates to between 12 and 20 pounds of lean muscle tissue gain per year. Over 5 years you will add up to one hundred pounds to your body. That is precisely what RXMuscle founder Dave Palumbo did, though he was benefiting from steroids of the illegal variety!

๐Ÿ’‰Become a Peptide Expert (Protect your Health) ๐Ÿ’‰

Take our FREE 25-email course to learn everything you need to know about the scientific application of peptides. Discover how to protect your health, avoid sketchy peptide vendors, and stop wasting your hard-earned money. ๐Ÿ”ฅ ๐Ÿงช ๐Ÿ’Š ๐Ÿ’ช ๐Ÿ’‰ ๐Ÿฉธ๐Ÿฅ ๐ŸฅŽ

How Should You Train & Eat for Mass?

Steroids, whether legal or illegal, are supplemental to smart nutrition. In other words, they are like the icing on the top of the cake. If you are not on point with what you are eating, then you are quite literally wasting your money on mass building supps. Thatโ€™s why we feel itโ€™s important to include here a quick primer on how you should be eating for mass gain.

To put on muscle mass, you need to eat at least 500 calories per day more than your daily maintenance level. Concentrate on lean proteins and complex carbs. Divide your total caloric consumption by six and plan those meals over the course of your day. It should work out to eating every 2.5-3 hours. Here are ten foods that you should be eating most days:

  • Tuna
  • Salmon
  • Eggs
  • Avocado
  • Chicken
  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Beef
  • Rice
  • Milk
  • Oats

A key tip is to keep your meals pretty consistent. Eating the same thing every day may get a little boring but remember that you are doing this for a specific goal โ€“ to add muscle mass to your frame. So, suck it up and get on with it! You will find it much easier to stick with the same meals than having to create new meals every day.

Want the full story on eating to get huge. Find it here (link to future article)

When it comes to working out for muscle mass you need to approach your workouts as if you were a warrior going into battle. Of the 24 hours in your day, this is the one hour when you are able to put in the hard yards to build your body the way you want to. So, get focused for your workouts. Rehearse your workouts in your mind and establish the mind-muscle connection.

Working out builds muscle in two ways. Firstly, it creates microtears in your muscle fibers. When you rest, recover and feed the muscle, the fibers will build back bigger and stronger. The other way weight training builds muscle is by increasing the storage of glycogen in your muscle cells. This brings on the pump effect in the muscle cell. For maximum muscle gains you need to be making use of both of these mechanisms. However, you must also avoid overtraining, which will actually lead to catabolism, the opposite of anabolism (muscle building). Your training shouldnโ€™t take more than about an hour every day. You should hit each body part just once per week, with a total of about 15 sets per muscle group. These should range in reps from a high of 30 down to a low od 4. This will cover both mass building mechanisms (muscle microtrauma and glycogen capacity increase in the muscle cell). Here is an effective rep protocol:

  • Set One: 30 reps
  • Set Two: 20 reps
  • Set Three: 15 reps
  • Sets Four & Five: 10 reps
  • Sets Six & Seven: 8 reps
  • Sets Eight & Nine: 6 reps
  • Sets Ten & Eleven: 4 reps
  • Set Twelve: 30 reps

With each succeeding set, you should increase the weight. For the last set, strip it back to the weight you started with. Stick to just one exercise per body-part, making sure that you select the most effective mass building move that exists.

Avoid Steroids: Get TRT Legally Prescribed Online

US$35 $100
For a limited time, you can get a complete hormone panel, along with a consultation with a physician for only $35, thanks to the fine folks at FountainTRT.

FountainTRT can prescribe you the perfect dose of pharmaceutical injectable or topical Testosterone, and their affordable blood work will keep you dialed in the long term for NO extra cost.

Best Muscle Builder: TestoPrime

Testo Prime Review
Legal Testosterone Alternative
Testo Prime
  • Full of essential vitamins and nutrients.
  • Lifetime money-back guarantee.
  • Free shipping worldwide.
  • Some ingredients include: Fenugreek, KSM 66, Ginseg, Vitamin D, Zinc, Green Tea, B6, B5

TestoPrime provides men of all ages with natural support for testosterone levels in order to maximize strength, boost energy, and raise overall confidence in their masculinity.

This potent testosterone booster contains 12 ingredients sourced from vitamins, minerals, herbs, and supplements that are clinically-backed and have been proven to enhance menโ€™s natural testosterone production.

Some of the key ingredients included in this scientifically-researched formula include:

  • 2,000 mg D-Aspartic Acid – Supports the production of luteinizing hormone (LH)
  • 8,000 mg Panax Ginseng – Boosts sex drive and energy
  • 668 mg KSM 66ยฎ Ashwagandha – Supports natural testosterone production and levels
  • 800 mg Fenugreek – Boosts sex drive and sexual function
  • 40 mg Zinc – Increases free testosterone by reducing its conversion into estradiol

It is recommended for men 18 and older to take 4 capsules of TestoPrime daily in order to maximize results. Whether youโ€™re running low on energy and libido or need an extra boost of strength, TestoPrime has you covered!


In order to build muscle, you gottaโ€™ lift heavy. That is why a legal steroid that will get you stronger will also get you bigger. Winsol from Crazy Bulk is the best product that we have been able to obtain legally that does that. Winsol is designed to mimic the effects of the power strength enhancing steroid Winstrol. It contains the following 5 key strength building ingredients:

  • Acetyl-L-Carnitine โ€“ 55mg
  • Choline โ€“ 300mg
  • Wild Yam Root โ€“ 300mg
  • DMAE โ€“ 150mg
  • Safflower Oil Powder โ€“ 126mg

When combined in the right dosages in your body, these ingredients act as precursors to both testosterone and human growth hormone. With more of both hormones surging through your body in the gym, youโ€™ll be able to push out those vital extra reps that will result in lean muscle gains.

Winstrol Alternative
Winsol By Crazy Bulk
  • Become both faster and stronger, reduce body fat and retain lean muscle
  • See increased vascularity
  • Achieve considerably increased muscle definition and tone


D-Bal by Crazy Bulk is a copycat of the original D-Bol by SDI Labs, which is, in turn, a mimic of the illegal steroid Dianabol. Like D-Bol it uses all-natural ingredients to boost natural, testosterone production. The 5 key ingredients on Crazy Bulk D-Bal are:

  • Tribulus Terrestris
  • Leucine
  • Isoleucine
  • Valine
  • Whey protein

The complete ingredient profile is similar to, though not as extensive as, D-Bol by SDI Labs. However, the dosages in D-Bal are not as high as on D-Bol, which is why we have rated it at #5 rather than #1.

Dianabol Alternative
D-bal By Crazy Bulk
  • Enhances nitrogen retention and increases protein production
  • Activates the process known as protein synthesis
  • Improves your overall focus and drive

Comments and questions?

Join our closed Facebook group and get custom answers from the community.

Drop us a comment down below and one of our expert coaches will respond to it.

[su_accordion][su_spoiler title=”See all references” open=”no” style=”default” icon=”plus” anchor=”” class=””]


Llewellyn, William (2011), Anabolics. Jupiter, FL: Molecular Nutrition. pp. 357-367, 478-488, 525-533, 705-714, 760-771, 940-947

O’Connor M.D, Thomas (2018), America on Steroids: A Time to Heal. Cheshire, CT: Metabolic Promotion LLC. pp. 57-77, 107-111.

[/su_spoiler] [/su_accordion]


Ernst Peibst

Ernst Peibst | Writer

Ernst Peibst is an expert in anabolic steroids and PEDs with over 3,000 hours of research. He's been educating people for 7 years through his articles, written after studying science papers, expert books and consulting top doctors in the field. He is a former bodybuilder and creator of multiple fitness websites.

Read all articles
Notify of

Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Ritvik singh
2 years ago

Hi…. I started ah fitness modelling ..
To start trying lean muscle mass gain cycle

Umair Iliyas
Umair Iliyas
9 months ago

What is the best lean gain cycle, which salts should I use and also I have ran 2 – 3 cycles before of cutting (2 cycle) gaining (1 cycle) and done PCT too. Now I want to run a good lean gain cycle with no side effects on my body. Weight= 74kg , Age=24

Daniel Louwrens BSc PT
8 months ago
Reply to  Umair Iliyas

All cycles have side effects.

Anti-Aging, Peptide, and Health Science Delivered to Your Inbox

Join 15,000+ readers keeping informed and staying up to date on all of the latest Peptide, TRT, and SARMs news, in only 5 minutes per week.

Don't like emails?

Join our Facebook group and get the same updates!