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Anadrol…“The classic mass-builder”.
By: Mike Arnold
“Mass”…the defining attribute of a BB’r. It is the term on which bodybuilding itself is built and the quality that sets us apart from all other athletes. We all seek it and we can never have too much of it. There are many steroids which can help us in our acquisition of muscular size, but few steroids which are optimally suited for this purpose. Welcome to Anadrol; the steroid that for decades stood as the #1 mass-builder in all of bodybuilding.
Anadrol is the brand name for the steroid Oxymetholone, which was originally developed in 1960 by the drug company Syntex. It’s original and primary purpose was for the treatment of anemia, due to Anadrol’s ability to significantly stimulate the production of red blood cells in the body. Anadrol was also indicated for those suffering from osteoporosis and less frequently, for the growth of malnourished or undeveloped patients.
Anadrol fared well in the pharmaceutical market for many years, until the arrival of Epogen (a drug which increases RBC’s without any side effects) made Anadrol largely irrelevant in the treatment of Anemia and Osteoporosis. In the 90’s Anadrol made a comeback in the treatment of HIV patients whose condition necessitated that they maintain as much lean body mass as possible. To this day, it remains a popular treatment option for this particular population.
Anadrol is one of many drugs included in the category of compounds known as oral anabolic steroids. Oral steroids are anabolic-androgenic hormones which are most often molecularly altered at the 17th carbon position by the attachment of a methyl group, which allows the drug to maintain structural integrity as it passes through the digestive tract and eventually into the blood stream. In the absence of this molecular modification, the steroid would be subsequently destroyed in the liver and rendered useless prior to reaching its target tissues.
However, the resultant effects of methylation are not limited solely to that of a protective mechanism, as it also plays a role in determining the effects of the drug itself through the alteration its chemical make-up. Therefore, the process of methylation results in a completely new steroid with its own unique set of characteristics. In the case of Anadrol, we are left with a compound that demonstrates potent anabolic activity, while maintaining a unique and somewhat intriguing metabolism in the world of AAS.
According to Vida (a reference guide which provides the anabolic-androgenic ratios of various AAS) Anadrol maintains an anabolic/androgenic ratio of 320:45, making it 3.2X more anabolic than testosterone, yet less than half as androgenic per mg. This gives Anadrol a higher anabolic rating than many other steroids in its class, such as Dianabol and T-bol. Now, while Anadrol’s A:A ratio is relatively straightforward, it’s metabolism and mechanisms of action are a bit more of a mystery. When evaluating a steroid such as testosterone, its metabolism is clearly understood, but with Anadrol we are looking at a steroid which does not result any progestagenic activity, does not convert to DHT, nor does it aromatize to any degree, yet it is notorious for exhibiting a slew of side effects associated with all of these metabolites.
In an attempt to reconcile Anadrol’s estrogen-like activity with its inability to aromatize, a few theories have been put forward in recent years as an explanation for this discrepancy, yet to my knowledge, no one has yet put the final nail in the coffin with supporting scientific research. The first of these theories suggests that the Anadrol molecule itself demonstrates estrogenic activity by directly attaching to and interacting with the estrogen receptor. This explanation would suffice if it was true, but the problem is that there has not been any scientific research supporting this theory, let alone confirming it. Some others have speculated that Anadrol may act as a progestin, although a medical study examining this theory found there was no such progestagenic activity present. A 3rd theory proposes that Anadrol may elicit this effect through its ability to lower serum levels of SHBG, which would consequently displace previously bound estrogen and release it into free circulation where it could then exert its effects. With Anadrol having been shown to lower serum levels of SHBG in the literature, this theory is certainly plausible.
Regardless of the working mechanism(s) responsible, there is no doubt that Anadrol is capable of inducing all of the typical estrogen-related side effects, and when administered in conjunction with an aromatizable drug, it often does so in pronounced fashion. Without instituting preventative measures, users may experience side effects such as: gynecomastia, subcutaneous water retention, elevations in blood pressure, and bloat, to name a few. The standard treatment option for managing estrogen levels when using aromatizable drugs is through the concomitant use of an AI, but with Anadrol being unaffected by the aromatase enzyme, the question arises as to what treatment option is the most effective. While on the surface it may appear that AI treatment is not a viable alternative, user experience has repeatedly shown that this class of drugs is efficacious in circumventing the estrogen-like effects of Anadrol. Whether this occurs through a reduction in previously circulating estrogen, a different mechanism(s) altogether, or a combination of the two, it is unclear. Regardless, AIs are effective in minimizing/preventing Anadrol’s estrogen-like activity. In cases where the estrogen-like effects of Anadrol have acutely manifested (example: gyno), a serm such as Nolvadex remains the preferred course of action.
As mentioned above, Anadrol is not capable of converting to DHT, but like all steroids, it maintains the ability to increase the rate at which male pattern hair loss occurs in those who are prone. While it is impossible to give an accurate estimate regarding the percentage of users who might encounter this side effect, I will reluctantly state that this drug probably falls somewhere between Winstrol and Testosterone, in terms of its potential to hasten hair loss. For those AAS users who place a higher premium on keeping a full head of hair over sheer muscular size, they might do well to remain cognizant of this possibility when deciding whether or not Anadrol should be a part of their future cycles.
Another area where Anadrol distinguishes itself from many of its chemical cousins is in the realm of receptor binding relative to myotropic potency. Oxymetholone binds very weakly to the AR, so weakly in fact that its binding affinity is barely measurable, yet it remains one of the most potent oral steroids on the market for the acquisition of muscle mass. This is in direct contrast to a drug such as Trenbolone, which is also very proficient at muscle-building, but which exerts the majority of its effects through the signaling of the AR (androgen receptor). With Anadrol being incapable of activating the AR to any meaningful degree, there has been speculation of Anadrol relying predominantly on non-genomic mechanisms in order to effectuate muscle growth. There is some science available to support this claim, but we still have a long way to go in this area of steroid research before we have anywhere close to a complete understanding.
Whenever discussions of oral steroids come up, one area of interest frequently mentioned is that of liver toxicity. Being a methylated steroid, Anadrol is no exception to this and with good cause. Perhaps more than any other steroid, Anadrol has a long history of causing a variety of medically documented health problems when abused. Some of these noted health problems include: Cholestatic hepatitis (inflammation of the liver), Peliosis hepatis (blood-filled liver cysts), liver tumors, jaundice, Hepatic necrosis, and death. While these side effects are rare when Anadrol is properly administered, the potential for harm exists when abused for long periods of time and/or when utilizing excessive dosages.
Fortunately, most BB’rs today understand the need for proper cycling and with the inclusion of various liver and other health aides playing a role in the programs of today’s BB’rs, we are less likely than ever to experience these health problems. In reality, many of the toxicity claims are grossly over-exaggerated. While I certainly do not want to portray myself as one with a reckless attitude, it is important to see things as they really are. Caving in to over-blown fears (or maintaining a vigilante attitude) doesn’t do anyone good. While oral AAS are capable of causing toxicity issues, when utilized responsibly, they are a relatively safe category of drugs.
In years past, it was common to see BB’rs running cycles of Anadrol or Dianabol for 8-10 weeks in length (or more), but in recent times it seems many BB’rs are afraid to run any oral AAS for longer than 4-6 weeks. This mentality began to pervade the online BB’ing community at around the mid-point of the current PH/Designer marketplace boom. Due to most OTC manufacturers recommending that their products be run for no more than 3-6 weeks, BB’rs began to follow suit and apply these guidelines to other oral AAS. While prudence can be a virtue, the truth is that many oral AAS can be run for a significantly longer period of time with a relatively high degree of safety.Even Anadrol itself, which was long considered one of the most toxic oral AAS, underwent considerable university research before being approved for human use. After becoming a legitimate prescription drug, patients were regularly prescribed treatment plans involving several months of usage at dosages between 50-150 mg/day. Despite Anadrol’s repeated toxicity claims, physicians persisted in recommending these treatment plans for decades with very few serious problems.
The half-life of Anadrol is around 8.5-9 hours, necessitating 2-3X daily dosing if blood levels are to be kept relatively stable. The most common dosing scheme employed today ranges from 50-100 mg per day, which is more than capable of supplying impressive increases in size & strength. Few users will ever need to exceed this dosing amount. Some more adventurous users have been known to go up to 150-200 mg per day and a small percentage of individuals (who apparently have a grudge against their liver), have gone as high as 500+ mg per day. I see little reason to exceed 100-150 mg per day, as further benefits will be minimal and the likelihood of experiencing side effects rises. Some of these side effects may include: appetite suppression, lethargy, general malaise, headaches, acne, aggression, increased and/or decreased sex drive, among others.
The standard cycle length for Anadrol ranges between 2-10 weeks in length. Some users choose to use it for short blasts at the onset of their cycle in order to get gains moving along quickly, while others will choose to run it for a longer period of time. In terms of real-world effects, Anadrol is one of the very best mass & strength builders around. It is beloved in both the BB’ing and strength communities and is used in both off-season mass-building cycles, as well as pre-contest cycles in order to assist the BB’r in maintaining size and fullness while in a caloric deficit. Weight gains ranging between 15-25 pounds in 4-6 weeks are not uncommon, but these gains in mass tend to fall off as rapidly as they were acquired after cessation of the drug.
This is definitely not a compound one would use for long-term mass retention. Anadrol will make you massive and strong while you’re taking it, but that is where it ends. The user should also expect a fair degree of their weight gain to come in the form of water retention, both intramuscular and subcutaneous. This effect, while typically not visually appealing, contributes to pain-free lifting for many users. Anadrol has also acquired a reputation for delivering huge pumps during workouts, even to the point where some users claim they are debilitating to the point of stopping their training session. At any rate, there is no doubt that Anadrol excels in this area.
In conclusion, Anadrol is powerful, all-out mass & strength drug which when respected, can safely be used to deliver some of the quickest gains of any AAS in the world. While you may not look pretty when using this drug, you will certainly come to understand the meaning on the word “ON”.