Part 1
Part 2

Part III: Further Down the Anabolic Path

The risks associated with steroids grow vague and the dangers grow distant when I step into the gym or hop on a scale that suddenly creaks from the additional ten pounds I've gained. In addition to adding ten pounds, I've also lost two or three pounds of fat. I'm eating clean (much cleaner than my last cycle) and the effort is really showing.

Speaking of my last cycle, when I quit logging things at 150 days, I thought I'd hang on to all my gains, or at least 'til Death pried the Olympic bar from my cold, dead fingers. However, things didn't quite unfold the way I envisioned. Though I continued to work out, six months post-cycle my enhanced mass and bench strength had all but slipped away.

On the other hand, I was pleasantly surprised as my squat and deadlift lost no ground and continued to inch slowly upwards. I surmised that those first few weeks I'd missed due to the car accident might somehow have been critical to maintaining mass and strength over the long haul.

Hanging on to mass was one of the reasons my current cycle included Testosterone. I hoped to draw some satellite cells into the fray, yet I wondered: Can steroids make a positive, permanent change in body composition? To take all these risks and not gain anything maintainable would be an exercise in futility. I knew I couldn't maintain the mass of a Ronnie Coleman without year-round use, but 10 or 15 pounds?

I'd read so much conflicting information, both from studies and anecdotal evidence, I couldn't be sure. Did users refuse to admit the temporary nature of chemically induced gains? Had I done something wrong? To find out for certain I needed to run another cycle.

Back to the current cycle. I thought I could drop down to half an Adex ED [every day], but when I do, the Estrogen Fairy comes fluttering back and my nipples start to swell. When that happens I have to throw some Nolva at it as well to bring them back in line. So I'm planning to stick with a whole Adex for the remainder of the week. I actually felt a lot more aggressive on my last cycle, so maybe this Adex is taking the edge off some of that (not good).

It's not affecting my appetite though, that much is certain. I was in the middle of eating my second banana when I got a call from my wife regarding this newfound appetite:

And so forth. I hung up and went back to my banana. More food!

Week 4, Day 4: The Afterburners are Lit!

Yeah baby, check out the progression in flat bench in the last week! (Friday-Tuesday-Friday). Keep in mind that I probably didn't have another rep in me on most of these sets.

After I hit the 295 x 2 with no problem, I knew I was plugged in, powered up and ready to rock. Even though I'd missed 265 x 4 just three days ago, I threw on more weight and pounded it. At that point my chart said to do 230 for 6, but I knew I could handle another 10... nah, 15! Come on, don't waste this juice, pansy-boy! "Throw another 20 on," I told my partner.

Oh yeah, I finally got his ass in there. I told him if he didn't show up, I was going to be calling his wife and telling some stories to her. He got to the gym before I did!

Obviously, I've reached the point in my cycle where things get exciting. My big job now is to try and predict what sort of weights I should be using for each workout and try and balance that with not overdoing it and causing a catastrophic injury like a muscle tear or something more insidious like chronic soreness in the joints.

I like to go into the gym with it all planned out ahead of time, but obviously I can deviate a little bit if I'm feeling my oats. Yet seeing veteran powerlifters slather themselves in Icy-Hot (or analogous veterinary liniments intended for horses) has made me aware of the price of going heavy all the time.

I burned a lot of mental and physical fuel on the bench, so I felt a little flat by the time I hit back with bent rows, going as heavy as 230 pounds. Afterwards I did three sets of pull-ups alternated with Arnold presses. I got a couple extra reps out of the Arnolds, and a couple less on pull-ups compared to the last workout.

Closed it all out with close-grip bench and standing barbell curls, then some triceps pulldowns and push-ups supersetted with standing dumbbell curls.

That evening I heard the androgens clamoring for more volume. I answered, throwing an additional five sets of cable rows at my back at home. "Three" sat in my lap thinking she was doing them--that counts as family time, right?

Thankfully, I don't feel quite as out of breath today, which is great. Thoughts of extending the cycle a week or two are pushing out the panic of last weekend.

Week 5, Day 1

This weekend I was fighting a cold, and I think I won. I went to bed last night with the feeling I could kick it with a good night's sleep. (My wife and kid have been sick for a week.) I didn't set the alarm, but I woke up at 4:30. I snoozed a little more, rationalizing that squat day was not the day to show up simply to go through the motions. I got to the gym about half an hour late, still feeling a little sick--not great, but decent.

Over the years I've collected charts from various college and professional football programs that lay out workout progressions based on 1RM. Last week I started with a chart for a 350-pound 1RM on squats. It was too easy. So last Friday, in what I'm going to coin as a fit of "Testoptimism" (Testosterone plus Optimism), I wrote down the 380 1RM chart. Once it's on paper and you bring it into the gym, you don't leave without completing it, not unless you want a big "P" for "Pussy" tattooed on your forehead. Here's how the squat session broke down:

I did it! I've never done 345 before ass to grass, let alone twice. I even sat there at the bottom for a brief moment while time stood still, looking in the mirror and thinking "Sheesh! This is a lot of weight!" But up it went! I took a few minutes to sweat profusely, dripping enough Testosterone-laden sweat over everything to give anyone in bare feet a nice transdermal kick.

I was feeling pretty proud! One of the resident babes chose this time to come over and tell me how she saw this powerlifter with seven plates on each side doing reps last week. Cripe. I'm surprised she didn't just grab my hat and wipe her ass with it! Actually, it didn't bother me in the least; I just wish I could've seen it (the powerlifter, not the babe wiping her ass with my hat).

It served as a reminder that, for me, progress is most accurately measured against oneself. A lot of people seem to think one or two cycles was all it took to launch Arnold or Jay Cutler to their physical peak. Now that I've set foot on the path, I see just how far they traveled. It amazes me.

Next I did my little calf routine, 315 on the bar, 4 sets of 8, then stiff-leg deads alternated with sit-ups. By the time I hit the 4 x 240 I was losing my grip (sweat through my gloves) so I started mixing my grip. When I got to the last two sets I was fired up mentally and went back to a straight pronated grip without a problem. What a difference the mind can make. Take it from me, in many ways approaching training with the right attitude can have a more dramatic effect than steroids.

Felt different going heavier on these (heavier than normal for me). Felt like little adhesions were breaking loose all through my back like cracks spider-webbing through a thin sheet of ice. God, at least I sure hope that's what it was!

As for drugs, I've switched my mix. EQ has been dropped; Primo has stepped up to the plate to pinch hit. I didn't need much to keep plasma levels consistent this week, so I did 100TE/200P. No orals again this week. After my injection Saturday I got really short of breath again. I was getting winded just walking around. That starts to really freak me out. Is it something relatively harmless and temporary like high blood pressure? Or is it something more sinister such as my blood getting overly viscous from too many red blood cells forming?

EQ can have this effect (almost any steroid can to some degree) and said effect killed numerous pro-cyclists when they first started experimenting with EPO. Blood gets so thick that at night when the heart slows, it suddenly stalls out as it tries to pump the thick, red sludge. It stops. Forever. Bicyclist wakes up, not on a track with a bike, but with a harp on a cloud.

I didn't know what to think. I went for a walk outside, again wondering if this whole foray into the world of drug-fueled anabolic enhancement was really worth it. Sunday was better; today I'm breathing fine except during heavy exertion (like squats). I can live with that.

Week 5, Day 2

I'm definitely fighting a cold. The bright spot is that I think I'm winning, but I guess I thought that yesterday too. Last night I went to bed with a sore throat; this morning I had no sore throat, but zero energy. I'm avoiding my wife, who's been sick for a week, avoiding her like the plague.

I debated whether lifting would be productive this morning, but decided to go grind it out. Worked yesterday, today it sucked. Next time I feel like this I'm going to do a light speed workout.

I'm able to breathe and sleep normally now, which is a really nice change. Looking forward to hitting the hay early and just sleeping in tomorrow.

Week 5, Day 2, (Vol 2.0)

I got plenty of vitamin C in today, but due to my cold I decided to skip my softball game. Somehow I ended up coming home and doing an additional seven sets of seated cable rowing supersetted with flyes, dumbbell presses, and, uh, sips of beer. (I love having a home gym.)

Now I'm headed upstairs for some "Vitamin P" to make sure I've got all the bases covered.

Week 5, Day 3

Had a very sobering workout. My partner was in today, and we were shooting the breeze between sets of deadlifts. He's pretty new to weightlifting in general and I've been helping him lose weight (60 pounds so far). So today he's deadlifting 185 just to get back into things and something went "pop" in his back. He performed a few steps of the stumbling jig known as the "bad back pain dance" and I had to help him shuffle and hobble his way over to the bench to lie down.

He's at the doctor now, and I don't know if he ruptured a disc or what. So it kind of freaked me out since I had several sets left to go with far heavier weights. Amazing how what's important to you can change in the space of seconds. He may have permanently damaged his back and never be able to lift again.

Anyway, all this effort to get a little bigger and stronger seems really insignificant after that. But I have a cycle to finish. I slept really well last night, and although I still feel a little under the weather, I'm over the sickness hump. With this in mind, I finished my deadlifting.

Pounded the traps at lunch. Threw in 8-10 sets of heavy shrugs, but lost count with all the mammaries bouncing around in there.

Week 5, Day 4

Well, it wasn't exactly what I was hoping for today. I still have this low level cold sapping my strength and drive. I feel good enough to workout, but not good enough to cross the line and go postal.

On top of that, I mentally had to fire my workout partner today. The final straw was yet another no show. (His back is okay, but sore.) Now granted, he's going through a lot of crap in his life, but for the love of all that's holy, don't bring it into the freaking gym when I'm trying to run a cycle!

So you know what? I talked to that 5'7" 220 pound, 485 benching bulldog who trains about the same time I do every day and he's my new partner! He's exactly what I need right now to whip my ass into a frenzy. I'm excited for Monday.

Anyway, when benching today I could feel every strand of muscle in my pecs tighten up and strain like guitar strings being stretched too tight. This isn't normal for me. I fought through it and went for another rep. The feeling intensified. Warning lights and buzzers started clamoring in my head. Is this what it feels like right before your muscle tears? Something wasn't right. Without another millisecond of debate I dropped the bar onto the safety pins with a resounding crash.

Today wasn't a peak performance. I really need to get rested up this weekend as well as take the dietary restrictor plate off to boost the calories coming into my anabolic engine. In fact, screw it! As soon as I finish writing this, I'm raiding an all-you-can-eat pizza buffet!

In other news, I'm still locked in a heated battle with the Estrogen Fairy for control of my nipples. What the fuck? I've been taking a whole Adex ED and yesterday I augmented that with two Nolvadex. I woke up in the middle of the night and my right nip and surrounding area was puffy. Great. This morning the nips are fine. What the hell is going on?

I'm hesitant to do my HCG this weekend. Yeah, I forgot about the HCG. I guess I have eleven drugs on tap, and if I have a beer (or an even dozen), is that breaking some sort of recreational limit?

This weekend I had a rough time with the juice. I have two types of Schering Primo: Old Spanish and newer Turkish. The Spanish is expired by a month, but I used it last week anyway. Like I've said before, this ain't the Mayo clinic here, people. The Turkish Primo is good for a couple more years and I broke some out this weekend.

Crack! The tops snap off like the heads of little glass flowers, exposing the anabolic goodness within. I carefully draw the nectar into a needle already holding 1cc of Test. Before I inject it, I decide to smell the Turkish vial: it smells slightly different than the Spanish. I manage to coax a drop that the needle couldn't suck out of the amp onto my finger. It tastes like a combo of soap and oil, but what worries me more is that the taste and unmistakable sting of benzyl alcohol (the preservative) is absent. Crap.

So I grab a Spanish amp, crack that and taste it. The Spanish juice has a slight hint of cherry aftertaste (good) and it slightly numbs my tongue (good). I grab Anabolics 2004 and study the pictures of real Turkish gear for the umpteenth time. Everything is perfect, everything except one line. A line with spacing seems to be one character off. Coincidence? Not sure. I go back and forth but when I weigh the sum of available evidence, it's enough to swing the scales. It's fake, I glumly decide.

I hate to waste the legitimate Testosterone in the syringe but I have about as much chance of getting the Test out as unscrambling an egg. I shoot the whole 3cc load down the sink, rinse the syringe out with tap water, and toss the empty on my dresser. Retrieving another syringe and a couple more Spanish amps, I redraw the TestE. As I'm putting the syringe down to crack the fresh amps, the phone rings.

It's my neighbor. "Yo, I need you to move a big rock for me." The neighbor is building a natural stone stairway up a steep hillside. Likes to use rocks he can neither move nor lift, not that that deters him when his neighbor can. Yesterday I flipped a 500 pounder into place for him.

"I'll be there as soon as I inject some steroids," I laughingly tell him. He laughs, thinking I'm joking. He has no idea... does he?

Hanging up the phone, I crack the amps open, draw them up, and... what the fuck? Were these amps underfilled? There were only 2cc's of nectar in the stomach of my needle-nosed hummingbird. I'd already stuffed 1cc in there. I shrug, no problem, I'll just top it off from the multi-dose TestE vial. Then I notice a syringe with 1cc lurking amongst the clutter on my dresser. Crap! I'm holding the unsterile syringe!

I squeeze the little bird and two more cc's, this time legit Primo, are vomited down the drain. I may feel immortal, but injecting tap water is probably a better method for getting a date with a surgeon than a good way to test my perceived immortality.

Another batch of oily nectar oozes down the drain and I feel like I'm watching my dog die in excruciating slow motion for the second time. If there's anything down there, bacteria or maybe a hairball, it's going to grow. It's going to grow into some big scary-strong stuff.

Week 6, Day 2

I slept like a baby last night and I feel great! I got to the gym today and both my workout partners were there. Yeah, I have two now I guess; my old partner refused to be fired. Instead he decided to go hardcore and hang with me everyday. More power to him. Some people just need that kick in the ass to get motivated.

I feel friggin' fantastic today! With two partners I'm like the Hugh Hefner of the gym except I'm twice Hef's size, don't live in a mansion, and am surrounded mainly by skinny-fat bastards instead of nubile Playmates. Historically, my best workouts have been with two partners and I think it's because someone is always going, so the energy never lets off. I love it!

We started with back today by jamming an Olympic bar into a corner and doing T-bar rows using only 25's so we had a good range of motion. We also threw this little cable attachment V-grip on the bar making the exercise even harder, and allowing a little better ROM.

We flew through that, then hit flat bench:

I was pretty happy with that because I'm making progress, and progress is what it's all about. I've been fighting sleep deprivation and this freaking cold for what seems like forever, and despite my trying to maintain a positive attitude it's really been sucking the life out of me and hurting my performance. Hopefully I'm through with it and can start to kick some ass!

We moved on to three sets of Arnolds alternated with Pull-ups, then finished with three sets of barbell 21's alternated with triceps extensions. By the end of this I had an incredible pump going in my arms. They felt right on the edge of exploding out of my skin, leaving the ragged tatters hanging.

I can normally touch my shoulder with my hand, but after this my biceps had such an exceptional, unbelievable pump the closest I could get was about three inches away! The really crazy thing is, we did the whole workout in an hour. We were really flying. I actually feel kinda jacked today! My whole upper body is pumped! Can't wait until Thursday!

Lunch, Doubts and Vitamin P

My old roommate from college met me for lunch today. He hasn't seen me in a couple of months, and when I walk in the look he gives me is one of astonishment. He has no idea I'm walking on the anabolic darkside. (Does he?)

"Dude you look friggin' huge," he says in a loud voice, "Must be the steroids!" I laugh. The mere mention of this taboo word instantly decapitates conversation and the steady clink of flatware on china falls silent. Heads in the upscale eatery turn in unison, peering questioningly in our direction. He hastily adds, "I'm just kidding about the steroids."

Conversation resumes at the surrounding tables. Plates start to clink as people begin eating, relieved they're not in the presence of such a dangerous drug user. They've heard about steroids in the news--they're dangerous and the people who use them are evil. They fly into uncontrollable rages and are ranked only a small step below axe-wielding crack addicts as a social menace. My friend whispers, "You're not really doing steroids are you?" I don't want to lie, so I just laugh and the subject changes.

Then he notices my flushed appearance, "How's your blood pressure?" he asks. "Were you out in the sun?" I tell him I'm fine. He doesn't know anything about steroids so I'd have some serious explaining to do. The interrogation goes no further. I'm very selective about who I let in on the whole steroids deal. There are three people in my "real life" that know. He's not one of them.

But what's odd is that I don't think I look a whole lot different than I did ten pounds ago. Other people seem to notice. Whatever, it doesn't matter. Or does it? Am I becoming a reverse anorexic? From what I've read, anorexics are never thin enough in their own eyes. I keep thinking I'll be big enough in ten more pounds.

I've added forty pounds of muscle since I started this weightlifting habit and people say I'm big, but I'm still not big enough in my eyes. You can't be too big any more than you can get too many blowjobs. In my opinion, "big" is another 30 pounds away, and hyoooge is another 30 beyond big.

I don't think this whole getting huge thing is affecting other areas of my life. Maybe it is. I got into a heated argument with my wife last night. Doesn't really matter what it was about, but we haven't fought for a long time. I feel like saying fuck it, let it ride. But you know what's really evil? I want to make up. The primary reason I want to make up is because it'll affect my training tomorrow if I don't. I'm gonna burn. I'm doing it for the wrong reason.

Fortunately, before I could further stain my already darkened soul, she initiated the make up. What an angel. I'm going home for some Vitamin P.