best steroid cycle for lean mass

17 Best Steroid Cycles (Beginners, Bulking & Cutting)

best steroid cycle for lean mass

This page may reference and describe prescription drugs, steroids, or steroid-like substances that are not available without a prescription from a licensed physician, or sometimes, illegal in the United States. We are not under any circumstances endorsing or recommending you take such substances. We reference such substances for informational purposes or only to compare them with legal nutritional supplements. You can read up on the side effects of steroids to learn more.


Steroids are illegal without a prescription and they can have serious side effects if used without medical supervision. Make sure to avoid using them and look for legal alternatives instead, such as Natural Testosterone Boosters.

Once someone has decided they want to use steroids, they need to know how to use them, in order to maximize gains and minimize side effects.

After all, there’s no point getting jacked if people jeopardize their health because of it.

Before running any steroid cycle, a user should know the following:

  • What dosages?
  • What stacks?
  • How long to run the cycle?
  • How can I reduce the side effects?

Below are the best steroid cycles tailored for beginners; and those bulking or cutting.

Best Steroid Cycles For Beginners

When a beginner plans their first steroid cycle, the most important component is that the correct steroids are taken.

If a beginner takes a compound that is excessively toxic or harsh on the body, they will experience severe side effects. Taking such steroids immediately is like jumping in the deep end when learning how to swim.

Here is a list of anabolic steroids, suitable for beginners to take, during a first cycle:

  • Anavar
  • Testosterone
  • Dianabol


Anavar is the safest steroid for beginners, causing significant fat loss and noticeable lean muscle gains. Side effects are rarely experienced by men or women on anavar, hence how it is FDA approved in medicine.

The only noteworthy side effect with anavar, is a modest decline in endogenous testosterone production. Natural test levels will not get shut down, but they will decrease. Such declines typically shoot back up post-cycle within several weeks to a couple of months.

Muscle gains will not be overly dramatic on anavar, compared to the other compounds on this list, however if huge mass isn’t the goal; an anavar-only cycle will not disappoint.

An anavar-only cycle is common among users wary of side effects, and is often administered by those who are afraid of taking steroids in general (but opt for anavar due to its high safety profile).

Anavar-Only Cycle

anavar only cycle

This is a conservative dose for males during a first cycle. In future anavar cycles, 20mg may be used from the 1st week onward; and the length of a cycle may be increased to 8 weeks.

PCT: Due to anavar only being a mild steroid, a PCT is not essential, as users do not typically ‘crash’. Thus, hormones typically will regulate back to normal within several weeks.

Legal Anavar Alternative

Anvarol by Crazy Bulk, is a legal alternative for anavar; with a formula designed to mimic its fat burning and muscle-building effects. Although anavar does not produce many side effects, it is illegal to use for cosmetic purposes. Anvarol is also considerably cheaper than anavar and can be bought online (instead of potentially getting scammed on the black market).


Testosterone is the most popular and recommended steroid for beginners.

This is due to testosterone being a potent steroid for muscle gains and strength; but at the same time is not harsh on the body.

Cholesterol levels do not rise excessively and there is little hepatic strain, with testosterone being an injectable steroid. In terms of results vs side effects, it has a very positive balance, and thus is an enjoyable cycle for many beginners. Users will typically gain 20lbs of lean mass from this steroid cycle.

Testosterone-Only Cycle

first test steroid cycle

Testosterone cypionate and enanthate esters are typically used during a first cycle.

This is because these are slow-acting esters, and therefore do not require frequent injections. Consequently, two injections per week are suffice to keep peak exogenous testosterone levels in the blood stream.

Taking less frequent injections may cause dramatic increases/decreases in testosterone, instead of keeping a steady flow. Big fluctuations in testosterone will result in more side effects, which isn’t ideal (especially for beginners).

PCT: Clomid may be used as a SERM (Selective Estrogen Receptor Modulator) during testosterone cycles, to prevent the onset of gynecomastia. In clinical studies, 2 x 200mg doses of clomid are used daily (1). It can also be used as a PCT to restore endogenous testosterone production.

Alternatively, 2 x 10-20mg of Tamoxifen (Nolvadex) can also be used daily, which is another popular SERM used by bodybuilders. However, it is advised not to take this during a testosterone cycle, as it may elevate blood pressure (due to it decreasing estrogen).

Testosterone Alternative


Dianabol is the most powerful of all these compounds, and will surely produce the biggest mass gains for beginners. However, it isn’t the best steroid for optimal health (for newbies).

Despite some toxic side effects, dianabol is a common beginner cycle for users who don’t want to inject themselves, yet still want big muscle gains.

Dianabol is a c-17 alpha alkylated steroid, and thus liver strain is to be expected. This should not be a serious concern, if moderate doses are taken. A bigger concern is a spike in blood pressure that will take place on dianabol, due to additional water retention and a negative shift in HDL/LDL cholesterol levels (2). Thus, it is important to monitor blood pressure when taking dianabol and to perform cardio during your cycle.

Dbol-Only Cycle

dianabol cycle

This is a strong dose for beginners, who are willing to experience a few more side effects in order to make bigger muscle gains. Beginners will typically gain around 25lbs from the above cycle. TUDCA should be used to help minimize damage to the liver, whilst clomid can be taken during and after a cycle, to prevent gynecomastia and help restore testosterone production (2 x 200mg per day).

Note: Deca durabolin can also be used for a first steroid cycle, because it is well tolerated by many users. However a deca-only cycle generally isn’t recommended, as it is not very effective when run by itself. Results on deca typically heighten when used as a stack with other potent bulking steroids.

Dianabol Alternative

Best Bulking Steroid Cycles


Bulking cycles are incorporated when a bodybuilder is trying to gain significant amounts of muscle size. This is generally done in one of two ways: 1) to pack on as much mass as possible. Or 2) to build lean muscle, without any water retention, keeping a ripped and lean look.

The best steroids for bulking are:

Get the full stack at a steep discount here.


Anadrol is the most powerful bulking steroid on this list, giving users incredible size and strength gains, but also packing a punch in regards to side effects.

Blood pressure and liver toxicity are the two main concerns on anadrol, with it being an oral steroid, that has deleterious effects of cholesterol.

Anadrol certainly isn’t suitable for beginners, however if someone has taken tesotsterone or/and dianabol before, and they have tolerated these compounds well, they may decide to cycle a moderate dose of anadrol.

Anadrol can be used alone, or stacked with injectable steroids such as trenbolone, deca or testosterone. It is not advisable to stack anadrol with other oral steroids, such as dianabol; as the liver will become excessively strained and cholesterol levels will dramatically worsen (compared to injectables).

Anadrol-Only Cycle

anadrol only cycle

The above steroid cycle is tailored for someone who wants big gains in mass, but hasn’t used anadrol before. Therefore, the doses are fairly cautious, slowly introducing the body to this toxic compound.

Experienced users who tolerate anadrol well may choose to cycle anadrol for 8 weeks, with dosages increasing up to 100mg.

Anadrol and Deca Cycle

deca anadrol cycle

Once someone has cycled anadrol before, and wants to take a more potent stack, but without a lot more side effects; deca durabolin is a worthy addition, as it is a mild compound.

Although natural testosterone production will become more suppressed and water retention may increase, the inclusion of deca does not greatly add to the negative effects of anadrol. Also deca durabolin’s most famous side effect is deca dick (erectile dysfunction). This is partly caused by it reducing DHT levels, which is crucial for nitric oxide production and blood flow inside the penis. Thus, with anadrol being an particularly androgenic steroid, this will prevent this and enhance sexual health, compared to taking deca alone.

Sexual function usually declines at around the third week on deca, thus anadrol is added around this time, due to its androgenic attributes. Deca is a slow-acting steroid, thus is usually cycled for up to 10 weeks, allowing enough time for it to peak in the blood stream and have an effect.

Decaduro and Anadrol Alternative

Anadrol and Test Cycle

anadrol test cycle

Anadrol and testosterone stacked together is a more powerful upgrade from anadrol and deca durabolin.

Blood pressure will increase significantly, water retention will be noticeable and testosterone production will almost certainly be shut down. Liver toxicity also remains a concern with the presence of anadrol, and gynecomastia is very likely in susceptible users (who do not run a SERM throughout the cycle).

Thus, this stack is only for advanced bodybuilders who have used anadrol several times before with good success (in regards to managing the side effects). The muscle and strength gains with this stack will be exceptional.

The dosages in the above cycle are relatively conservative. 

Anadrol, Trenbolone and Test Cycle

best steroid cycle for mass

Anadrol, trenbolone and testosterone stacked together is arguably the best steroid cycle for bulking. The mass gains from this trio of bulking steroids, will be tremendous. However, the side effects are also going to be very harsh, even for veteran steroid-users with much experience. Thus, extreme caution should be used, getting regular check ups with the doctor throughout this cycle and constantly monitoring blood pressure at home; whilst implementing plenty of cardio.

High dosages are listed in this cycle, taking into consideration the level of experience a user will have, when implementing this cycle. In short, high doses will be needed for an experienced steroid-user’s physique to reach the next level. This cycle is not recommended and should be considered somewhat dangerous. 




Dianabol is a very similar steroid to anadrol. It is almost equal to A-drol’s ability to add muscle mass and strength when bulking. It is an oral steroid, causing notable amounts of water retention, whilst equally being estrogenic.

The main difference between dbol and anadrol is that dbol is only mildly androgenic, whereas anadrol is highly androgenic. Thus, hair loss and acne is going to be less of an issue on dianabol. The other significant difference is that dianabol’s less toxic compared to anadrol,  due to dbol being taken in much smaller dosages.

Therefore, the side effects of dbol are more tolerable than anadrol, which is why it’s the more popular bulking steroid; despite the gains being slightly less.

It’s known that dianabol was the number 1 steroid used by bodybuilding greats, such as: Arnold, Franco Columbu, Lou Ferrigno and more. Today it is still widely used by the top IFBB pros, giving them huge size and mass.

Dbol and Deca Cycle

deca and dianabol cycle

The above cycle will be less troublesome compared to anadrol and testosterone stacked together, however it will almost match the strength and size gains.

Blood pressure should be monitored and a PCT will need to be implemented to recover endogenous testosterone production; but as far as bulking stacks go, this is one of the best in regards to side effects.

This is thought to be Arnold’s favourite stack, helping him to win the Mr Olympia 7 times and dominate bodybuilding. Huge, full-looking muscles are a certainty.

Dbol and Test Cycle

dbol test cycle

This is a very powerful bulking stack, combining two of the most effective steroids for adding mass.

This cycle is likely to produce better gains than the dianabol/deca steroid cycle, due to test being a stronger compound than deca. However, this cycle will also produce more side effects, such as: increased risk of gyno, blood pressure, testosterone suppression and water retention.

However, this is a safer combination than stacking dianabol with other powerful orals such as: anadrol or winstrol.

Dbol and Anadrol Cycle

dianabol anadrol cycle

This cycle isn’t recommended because it contains two of the most powerful oral steroids in the same cycle. Thus, it will be incredibly toxic with: blood pressure going through the roof, water retention becoming extreme and short-term liver strain a certainty (although likely reversible post-cycle).

Thus, dbol OR anadrol are usually used; however some people may stack these together, when coveting incredible gains in size.

If someone is to utilize this bulking cycle, they should certainly take a liver support supplement, such as TUDCA. They should also eat plenty of unsaturated fats to prevent their cholesterol levels from rising excessively high (LDL); and perform regular cardio to improve blood flow to the heart.

These dosages are high, which is tailored for highly experienced steroid-users (the only people who should ever consider running this cycle).


Testosterone is similar to dianabol, in its ability to increase strength and muscle size. However, it is less anabolic, so dianabol has the edge.

However, with test being an injectable steroid it poses less risks, and thus its side effects are more tolerable, compared to dbol.

We have already listed a test-only cycle which is suitable for beginners, and stacks with dbol and anadrol. However, testosterone can also be effectively taken with deca durabolin and trenbolone for enhanced gains when bulking.

We’ve created a resource on the best testosterone boosters.

Test and Deca Cycle

test deca steroid cycle

This steroid cycle should be regarded as the safest bulking stack.

Stacking deca durabolin with test will further increase strength and size, and is a very effective combination, as testosterone will alleviate some of deca’s side effects (such as erectile dysfunction and low libido). Such adverse effects can occur due to deca lowering DHT levels. With testosterone being androgenic, it will reverse this, improving sexual health and performance during a deca cycle.

Deca also isn’t estrogenic, thus the risk of gynecomastia does not increase with this stack.

Test and Tren Cycle

test tren cycle

Testosterone and trenbolone is the best steroid cycle on this list for lean mass gains.

By lean mass, we are referring to weight gain almost being 100% lean muscle tissue, without any excess water weight.

Testosterone does aromatize and thus a small amount of fluid retention is possible on this steroid cycle. However, it won’t compare to the bloat experienced when taking wetter compounds, such as dianabol or anadrol.

Trenbolone does not aromatize, thus will only cause lean and dry gains. If someone is already lean and takes trenbolone, they will almost certainly get ripped. Trenbolone also has stimulative effects, enhancing fat loss when bulking. Thus, it’s very possible users will not only build large amounts of muscle on this cycle, but also shred fat. If users are eating in a big calorie surplus, tren will keep fat gains at bay.

The downside to this stack is that trenbolone is a very harsh steroid, thus blood pressure spikes and testosterone suppression can be severe. This cycle also contains high doses, making it suitable for advanced steroid-users only.

Best Cutting Steroid Cycles

A cutting phase is when a bodybuilder’s main objectives are to burn fat, whilst maintaining muscle mass.

This is a crucial time, where bodybuilders work hard to preserve the size they gained in the off-season.

‘Cutting steroids’ will increase fat burning, whilst adding lean muscle (without any water retention). This produces a more defined/ripped look.

cutting stackThe best steroids for cutting are:

  • Anavar
  • Winstrol
  • Proviron
  • Trenbolone



Anavar (oxandrolone), as already mentioned is a very mild steroid, which doesn’t cause any harsh side effects. It also does not aromatize (convert into estrogen), making it the ultimate cutting steroid.

Anavar will greatly speed up fat loss, flush out water, improve muscle definition and build lean muscle mass. The amount of size gained on anavar during a cut will be minimal, but it will certainly keep the body anabolic; instead of shifting into a muscle-wasting state.

Anavar is also a very effective steroid for increasing strength, which is unique for a cutting steroid. Thus, if users want to keep lifting heavy and hit new PR’s, despite eating fewer calories, anavar will make that happen.

Note: Anavar is an oral steroid.

Anavar-Only Cycle

This is the safest steroid cycle users can do, and will almost certainly enhance fat loss when dieting.

Anavar can also be stacked with testosterone in cutting cycles, helping users to add more muscle, whilst simultaneously getting leaner.

Legal Alternative to Anavar


zac efron winstrol

Winstrol (stanozolol) is a powerful cutting steroid, that has fat burning and muscle building attributes like anavar. It is an oral steroid and does not aromatize; causing a dry and shredded look.

Winstrol is arguably the best cutting steroid, with trenbolone, in terms of raw power; for looking shredded during beach season. This is why Zac Efron is thought to have taken winstrol, in his preparation for the film Baywatch.

His physique was incredibly dry, vascular and ripped – all attributes of winstrol.

Although muscle size will increase on winstrol, they can look quite flat or depleted, which is due to temporary loss of intracellular water retention. They will regain this fluid post-cycle, looking full again.

The main differences between winstrol and anavar are: winstrol is slightly superior in regards to muscle gains, and it also causes worse side effects.

Cholesterol levels will become very high (LDL) when taking winstrol, causing a noticeable rise in blood pressure. Being a C-17 alpha alkylated oral steroid, it will also cause significant hepatic strain in the liver (resulting in ALT and AST levels to rise).

Winstrol is also very androgenic, thus acne and oily skin are possible; as well as hair loss on the scalp.

Some people may also opt for winstrol over anavar, due to the high cost of anavar; and winstrol being considerably cheaper.

Winstrol-Only Cycle

winstrol cycle

This is a good dose of winstrol. Alternatively, if users would like to cycle winstrol with fewer side effects (than the above cycle), 8-10mg per day can be taken for 6 weeks.

Winstrol and Trenbolone Cycle

winstrol tren cycle

Trenbolone will add to winstrol’s fat burning and drying out effects; creating a more shredded appearance.

Muscle gains will also be enhanced, compared to taking winstrol alone.

However, winstrol and trenbolone are two of the harshest steroids you can take. Thus, side effects are going to be severe; particularly testosterone suppression and blood pressure values. Estrogen can help to regulate blood pressure, but with winstrol and trenbolone failing to aromatize, this will not occur.

Generally, there is no need to take these two steroids together when cutting, as fat loss can be achieved through diet alone; instead of taking toxic steroids which can negatively effect your health in the long term.

Thus, if trenbolone is going to be used, it may as well be incorporated in a bulking cycle; where its effects are maximized in regards to lean muscle gains. However, users who are the exception and tolerate trenbolone well or aren’t concerned with their health may use it during cutting cycles.

Alternatives to Winstrol and Trenbolone



Proviron (mesterolone) is an old-school anabolic steroid, that was first used in bodybuilding’s golden era and is still utilized in steroid cycles today.

Proviron acts as a synergistic agent, enhancing the effects of other anabolic steroids; due to its ability to increase free testosterone levels.

Thus, it could be stacked with a bulking steroid like dianabol (for example) to increased its anabolic power, resulting in more muscle gains.

However, proviron is also used in cutting steroid cycles, because of its anti-estrogen properties; thus creating a dry and ripped look.

Proviron kicks in very fast too, flushing extracellular water out of the body – almost instantaneously.

Proviron works by binding to SHBG (sex hormone-binding globulin), freeing up more testosterone and creating a more anabolic environment in the body. However, Proviron is not very anabolic, which may be attributed to it blocking the androgen receptor in muscle tissue. Therefore, proviron will be ineffective for building muscle by itself.

However, when stacked with cutting steroids, more fat will be burned and more lean muscle mass will be built, due to more active and unbound testosterone. However, taking proviron alone is unlikely to have much of an effect on body composition.

When proviron is stacked with estrogenic compounds, the risk of gyno significantly decreases, because it prevents the conversion of testosterone into estrogen. However, proviron is also known to increase blood pressure as a result, thus cardiovascular precautions should be taken.

One unique property of proviron is that it does not decrease or shut down endogenous testosterone production in moderate doses. This is dissimilar to all other steroids, which will cause natural test levels to plummet post-cycle. Research however does show that when proviron is taken in mega doses (300mg+ per day), it can decrease testosterone production (3).

Proviron, despite being an oral steroid, does not cause any notable strain to the liver. However, it is very androgenic, thus male pattern baldness, acne and oily skin can be an issue

Although proviron can be stacked with any steroid to enhances its effects, it is generally stacked with powerful steroids, to maximize its use.

It isn’t stacked with anavar often, because many people take anavar due to its mild nature; whilst proviron is powerful, causing great shifts in cholesterol and blood pressure.

Proviron and Winstrol Cycle

winstrol proviron cycle

These two oral steroids stacked together, will create a ripped, dry physique; full of vascularity, striations and definition.

This would be a powerful stack to take before a competition, helping to expel all water outside of the muscles, and come in with paper-thin skin.

The downside to this proviron/winstrol stack is LDL levels will likely rise very high, creating a significant spike in blood pressure. This is due to both of these compounds being orals, and them causing a large spike in testosterone (without any estrogen increase). For this reason, this cycle should be used sparingly (if at all). Some may save this cycle for a competition or a special occasion; rather than regular cycles which will inevitably put unnecessary strain on the heart.

Winstrol, Proviron and Tren Cycle

winstrol proviron tren cycle

This trio is perhaps the most powerful cutting steroid cycle a bodybuilder can run.

Users can expect rapid fat loss, whilst building noticeable amounts of lean muscle tissue.

However, all three of these compounds will raise cholesterol levels through the roof; thus anyone with less than perfect cholesterol (or blood pressure) should avoid this cycle.

All three of these steroids will create a photo-shopped look, with incredible vascularity and muscle definition. To see the real benefits from this cycle, a person should already be lean.

A perfect time to take this cycle is during the middle or latter stages of a cut. This way the person’s blood circulation will be optimal and blood pressure is unlikely to be high (due to less fat). Also, the drying out effects of this cycle will be negated by someone who is higher in body fat; as excess fat will create a smooth look (instead of a dry one).

This cycle has the potential to transform a user from lean to shredded, when following a calorie deficit diet and incorporating regular cardio.

Bodybuilders also add fat burners and thyroid medication to their cutting cycles, for further fat loss. Two popular compounds used are: clenbuterol and T3 (cytomel). 

Alternatives to Winstrol and Trenbolone


Legal Steroid Cycles

bodybuilder legal steroids
Legal steroids

Legal steroid alternatives are popular among bodybuilders who covet the positive effects of steroids, but without any nasty side effects.

Crazy Bulk is the leading distributor of legal steroids online, which are also FDA approved (with no prescription required).

Here is their product range:

Because legal steroids do not produce any side effects, users can stack multiple compounds together for enhanced gains (without having to worry about further negative effects).

Legal Steroid Cycle (Bulking)

legal bulking steroid cycle

This is Crazy Bulk’s bulking stack, which includes legal alternatives to: dianabol, deca durabolin, trenbolone and testosterone.

This legal steroid cycle can be taken for 8 weeks, due to it posing no risk in regards to a user’s health.

The only legal bulking steroid missing from this cycle is anadrole. However, anadrole can be added to this stack as an extra compound, but will need to be purchased separately.

This stack will produce the biggest gains in size and mass, compared to taking single legal steroids alone.

Note: To utilize this cycle for 8 weeks, 2 bulking stacks will need to be ordered. 1 bulking stack will last for 4 weeks.

Legal Steroid Cycle (Cutting)

cutting cycle legal

This is Crazy Bulk’s Cutting Stack, consisting of: Anvarol (anavar), Testo-Max (test), Clenbutrol (clenbuterol) and Winsol (winstrol).

This stack will spike a user’s metabolism, shifting the body into a thermogenic state; accelerating fat burning (without any spikes in blood pressure).

It will also increase protein synthesis and testosterone levels when cutting, creating an anabolic environment within the body; encouraging lean muscle gains.

Note: This stack also will not produce any noticeable side effects, compared to its illegal steroid counterparts.

crazy bulk legal steroids

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