Can Prohormones Build More Muscle Than Weight Training?
Can Prohormones Build More Muscle Than Weight Training?
Setting the Scene
Let me give you a scenario.
We have two individuals.
One spends 10 weeks sedentary while taking androgens.
The other spends 10 weeks training hard but is completely natural.
Who makes the most strength and physique progress?
One 1996 paper1 looked to answer that very question.
While you think about your answer, let us fast forward to 2020. With much of the world in quarantine right now and gyms closed, for those of us used to being in a well-equipped gym packed with the latest pieces from Hammer Strength, Prime and Atlantis… the thought of making progress or even maintaining it during this period with limited resources seems unlikely.
The secret to retaining the muscle you already have and even growing new muscle without the stimulus from optimal resistance training might lie in this study.
This study assigned 43 ‘normal’ men into 1 of 4 groups: non-exercising and placebo, non-exercising with testosterone, exercising with placebo and exercising with testosterone. Exercising groups were to train 3 times per week and testosterone groups were given 600mg of test enanthate weekly. The experiment lasted 10 weeks total.
10 weeks of not lifting sounds daunting to those of us who are experienced lifters and generally in a gym more than 3 times per week but may well be what we are facing. These men, despite having experience weight training, were not competitive athletes and did not have previous experience with anabolic steroids.
What about diet?
Diet will, of course, be a key contributor in maintaining or gaining muscle. Two weeks prior to the experiment commencing, the men were all put on a structured diet plan of 36 calories per kg of bodyweight, 1.5g protein per kg and their recommended daily allowance of vitamins and minerals. Note that this is less protein than most bodybuilders are probably eating but would be about right for a less trained individual with lower starting lean body mass to make progress on.
And the sessions?
Training over the 10 weeks, for training groups, cycled working weight used for a variety of intensities (loads of 70, 80 and 90% of pre-test 1 rep max).
A similar technique is used by many bodybuilders and powerlifters who might aim to progress a squat at a 6-10 rep range (for example) before upping the weight and returning to the lower end of the goal rep range or increasing repetitions further.
Bodyweight did not significantly change in either placebo group. However, weight did increase in the non-exercising testosterone group. The most dramatic increase in weight, as expected, came from the testosterone and training group, with an average increase of 6.1kg.
Looking at how much of this was fat free mass, we see a similar pattern. While the placebo exercising group saw around 1.9kg, they were still outperformed by the testosterone non-exercising group with a gain of 3.2kg.
Cross-sectional areas of arms and legs did not change in the placebo group whether exercising or not. Testosterone groups both saw increases, with the most significant of course being in the participants who were also resistance training.
Regarding strength, similar increases in bench and squat 1RM were seen in the placebo plus exercise and testosterone but no exercise groups.
To summarise: the testosterone but non-training group came out of the 10-week study with higher fat free mass, larger muscle size of the arms and less and similar strength increases to placebo participants who had been following a structured training regime.
Could this be the secret to continue making progress without access to a gym?
Most people reading this will already be at a more advantageous start point than participants of the study, being better trained with a greater understanding of diet and other factors that play into muscle growth such as sleep, recovery and stress management.
The study would strongly suggest that, training or not, supraphysiological levels of androgens will increase the potential to gain muscle mass and strength. This might mean that now is, in fact, a great time to start your first cycle before reintroducing the stimulus of structured weight training. This period is a great time to make sure that you are consistent on health sups (read our article on on-cycle support) and diet is set up in a way that will allow you to grow without gaining excessive bodyfat (around maintenance or slightly above or below depending on starting body composition).
As testosterone is usually only available on prescribed testosterone replacement therapy (TRT), and not given to young males who already sit within a healthy testosterone range, we would suggest using Androtest by Fusion Supplements for the same positive effects on muscle mass, strength, libido and wellbeing. This is a prohormone and therefore a more advanced option than something like a natural testosterone booster, being hormonal.
Androtest is a 4-AD prohormone, which requires just one enzyme, 3-beta hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase, to be converted to testosterone. 1 capsule taken 3 times per day is recommended for beginners, with up to 6 the maximum dose.
After assessing response to Androtest, it may be stacked with another prohormone for even more pronounced results. Nano 1T is one of our most popular options, proving the user lean gains and strength. Not to mention, 1-Testosterone is 7x more anabolic than testosterone!2
A stack of 1.5ml of Nano 1T with 5-6 capsules of Androtest will therefore result in more anabolic benefits with less aromatisation than 600mg of testosterone enanthate for more users. Remember that, although these products are not anabolic androgenic steroids (AAS), they are still powerful hormonal supplements. This means that every cycle should be followed with a comprehensive post-cycle therapy (PCT) protocol. For example, we would follow a 6-10-week cycle with a PCT of a natural testosterone booster and an aromatase inhibitor (AI). Read all about PCT here.
When considering that the most impressive results came from the testosterone and training group, this might be an argument for creating the best stimulus you can for muscle building from home if you are able. While you might not be lucky enough to have a power rack and a couple of hundred kilos worth of weights in your garage, some band and bodyweight work to keep the muscles stimulated and full of blood would, hypothetically, allow you to make even more progress. Focus on mind to muscle connection, time under tension and generating maximal intensity in whatever you do.
1Bhasin, S., Storer, T., Berman, N., Callegari, C., Clevenger, B., Phillips, J., Bunnell, T., Tricker, R., Shirazi, A. and Casaburi, R., 1996. The Effects of Supraphysiologic Doses of Testosterone on Muscle Size and Strength in Normal Men. New England Journal of Medicine, 335(1), pp.1-7.
2Metabolic studies of 1-testosterone in horses. Kwok WH1, Ho EN, Leung GN, Tang FP, Wan TS, Wong HN, Yeung JH.