Many people know about the best steroids for bulking, cutting and gaining strength; but what are the best steroids for beginners?
If you’re a newbie, I’ll explain everything you need to know, in order to pack on muscle as fast and as safely as possible; keeping you in the gym, instead of the hospital bed.
Taking steroids is like learning how to swim.
If you jump straight in the deep-end, without any experience of what you’re doing, you could be putting your life at risk. However, if you take the slow approach and learn the ropes, when you do eventually jump in the deep-end, the risk of something bad happening will be massively reduced.
Doctors understand that steroids can be taken in a sensible way as they’re happy to prescribe steroids to millions of patients on a daily basis. They know that if they keep them on a low to moderate dose and don’t administer them for too long, risks of side effects are much less. Doctors also monitor patients regularly when taking drugs, conducting health checks to make sure there’s no underlying problems.
So if you’re planning on running a steroid cycle for the first time, make sure you do have regular check ups with your doctor, ensuring your blood pressure or your liver values aren’t too high during your cycle.
The type of steroids you opt for will also have a bearing on how many side effects you’ll endure. For example, if it’s your first cycle and you start injecting mega doses of anadrol and trenbolone for 4 months straight, you’re asking for trouble.
The best steroids for beginners are mild steroids, which are less harsh on the body.
By using mild steroids, you’ll be easing your way in, helping your body tolerate moderate AAS before moving onto harsher anabolics.
Harsh anabolics: anadrol, trenbolone, injectable dianabol
Mild/moderate anabolics: anavar, testosterone, deca, oral dianabol
As a rule of thumb you shouldn’t take injectable steroids during your first cycle, as these are a lot more potent compared to orals. Orals get broken down by the liver, instead of going straight into your blood stream; meaning you’ll experience less side effects.
The only downside to using orals is your liver will be strained a little more, although this effect is (almost always) only temporary. Also, your gains won’t be as impressive compared to if you did stick a needle in your butt; but if you’re a beginner you’re going to have awesome gains regardless (if you take orals or injectables).
On oral steroids, you’ll experience most of the gains compared to if you inject steroids, so it’s not a huge difference.
Here’s 4 steroid-cycles that are common practice among many bodybuilders.
Note: All of these steroids are taken in oral form for maximum safety. Many newbies don’t inject correctly and even when they do, the instant delivery of the compound into your blood stream can be too much for them to handle as a beginner.
4 Best Steroids for Beginners
- Deca durabolin
Fat Loss – ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Muscle Gains – ⭐
Anavar (by itself) is a very popular beginner steroid cycle, because it’s a mild compound, meaning users don’t usually experience severe side effects. Oxandrolone will appeal to those looking to burn fat and retain muscle. So if you’re bulking and want to put on mass/size, anavar won’t be for you. But if you want to lose some fat and get ripped – anavar can certainly do the job.
Because anavar is a powerful fat burner, pro bodybuilders also incorporate this steroid in cutting cycles to help them accelerate fat burning before a competition. Sometimes your muscles can appear flat after a cut due to some muscle loss and depleted glycogen stores.
However, anavar decreases the chances of muscle loss due to it’s anabolic properties; keeping you looking jacked as it increases glycogen storage in your muscles.
Anavar’s also a steroid used by female bodybuilders, as it doesn’t result in any masculine side effects. Anavar will keep a woman looking feminine, because testosterone doesn’t rise to excessive levels on anavar. Unlike men, women tend to build significant amounts of muscle on anavar.
However, ladies shouldn’t expect to wake up looking like she-hulk; however you will add a considerable amount of muscle tissue, giving you a strong/lean/athletic-look.
Anavar side effects:
- Male pattern baldness (hair loss)
- Painful erections
- Liver damage
- Less testosterone post-cycle
As you can see in the list above, the amount of anavar’s side effects is a lot less compared to other AAS; however complications can still occur. Some people believe anavar won’t significantly increase or shut down your natural testosterone production, however studies show that anavar DOES initially increase your testosterone levels during a cycle. Thus you can expect decreased levels of T post-cycle. As they say, “What goes up, must come down”.
However, anavar won’t increase your testosterone levels as much as dianabol (at the beginning of your cycle), nor will it shut you down as much as deca (after your cycle).
One drawback with anavar is that it’s quite costly. So, this isn’t the best steroid for a beginner who is short on money.
However, if anavar is out of your price range, clenbuterol is a cheaper alternative and it’s a more potent fat burner. Or you can go for anvarol which is a not only a safe and legal alternative; but also much cheaper than oxandrolone.
When weighing up anavar’s pros and cons, it’s no doubt one of the best steroids for beginners (if you’re cutting).
Muscle Gains – ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Dianabol is one of the best steroids for bulking and is suitable for beginners to take (in pill form). Generally the more powerful a steroid is, the more side effects it causes. Oral dianabol is almost an exception to this rule, as it’s likely to get a beginner jacked, but won’t compromise their health (as much as other steroids can).
As a precaution, get your blood work regularly checked by a medical professional whilst taking d-bol and be sure to take a milk thistle supplement to help reduce the strain on your liver.
Injectable dianabol isn’t recommended as blood pressure levels are likely to rise to an excessive level. Injectable dbol may also increase the chances of a user developing gynecomastia, as well as other side effects.
Dianabol doesn’t have any fat-burning effects, making it best-suited for beginners who want to pack on as much muscle and strength as possible. Dianabol was thought to be taken by a young Arnold Schwarzenegger in the 60’s, helping transform him into a mass monster who later dominated the Olympia stage.
Bodybuilders can typically take 50mg of dianabol a day; however sensible beginners will start on 10mg a day, and increase as their body becomes more comfortable with dianabol.
Dianabol Side Effects:
- Liver strain (with orals)
- High blood pressure
- Male pattern baldness
- Low testosterone levels (post-cycle)
- Water retention
- Increased risk of liver cancer
If these side effects aren’t for you, D-Bal is a legal steroid alternative that mimics the effects of dianabol (without the side effects).
Testosterone (sustanon 250)
Muscle Gains – ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Fat loss – ⭐⭐⭐
Testosterone is the most popular steroid for beginners, as it’s not overly toxic and it produces impressive muscle gains. Testosterone will cause a beginner to build muscle and burn fat (at the same time), changing a user’s body composition drastically. However, it should be known that testosterone’s muscle-building properties far outweigh it’s fat loss attributes.
Thus it would be wise to view testosterone as a bulking steroid that should be utilized with a high calorie diet, if you want to see significant muscle gains. Testosterone can be used when cutting to good effect, however its muscle-building potential will be reduced on lower calories. Some people may use test when cutting for two main reasons; they want to increase fat burning or/and they’re anxious about losing muscle.
Losing muscle is a pretty likely scenario on a cut; it’s just how much muscle you’ll lose. This isn’t the case when cutting with testosterone, where you’ll most likely retain all muscle – if not build some in the process.
A bodybuilder’s first steroid-cycle usually consists of taking some form of testosterone, most likely sustanon 250.
Sustanon 250 combines both short and long esters, meaning it enters your system fast (giving you rapid muscle gains), but also takes a while to leave your system; meaning you don’t have to take overly frequent doses.
Sustanon 250 side effects
Users are likely to experience several of the following adverse effects. If the user has good genetics, he may only experience very few of the below:
- Liver strain
- High blood pressure
- Water retention
- Hair loss/thinning
These adverse effects usually correct themselves when a cycle ends, unless a user takes excessively long cycles for many years and abuses testosterone.
However, if you don’t want to experience any of the side effects sustanon 250 causes; and you want to build muscle – check out testo-max which is the legal steroid alternative.
Deca Durabolin (nandrolone)
Muscle gains – ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Deca durabolin is another powerful bulking steroid that can be used to build large amounts of lean muscle.
It’s also one of the best steroids for beginners because it contains long esters and is a slow-acting compound. This makes it newbie-friendly as it doesn’t enter the body too fast; meaning less side effects for the user.
Generally, deca durabolin requires more patience than other steroids because it doesn’t kick in straightaway like dianabol or testosterone can. It may take a week or so to really get into your system, but when it does – it’s one of the best steroids around for building muscle. Arnold Schwarzenegger was also rumored to be cycling deca alongside dianabol from a young age, causing him to develop such thick and full muscle bellies.
Deca’s is regarded as a ‘healthy steroid’ in the anabolic world as it’s often prescribed by doctors to those who are suffering from joint problems and bone loss (osteoporosis). Many other steroids can actually cause joint problems, especially winstrol – but deca durabolin has the reverse effect.
In terms of side effects, deca durabolin can cause the following:
- Deca dick (erectile dysfunction)
- Shuts down testosterone
- High blood pressure
- Raised liver values
- Increased aggression
- Water retention (bloat)
Deca produces side effects similar to most steroids, but the most unique one is ‘deca dick’. This steroid may have the most impact on your sexual performance, so if this is important to you, you might want to opt for another steroid.
If you don’t want to experience the side effects of deca durabolin, but still want the anabolic effects – check out decaduro (below).
The Low Budget Cycle
- 8 weeks of testosterone
- 8 weeks of dianabol
If you’re on a low budget, a testosterone-only or dianabol-only cycle may interest you.
Stacking steroids together is a standard protocol for bodybuilders, however for your first cycle you’ll be able to take 1 steroid and still have BIG gains. This cycle is ideal for those who want gains, but haven’t got a significant budget.
The Health-Conscious Cycle
- 8 weeks of Testosterone
- 8 weeks of Anavar
If you’re super cautious about your health during your first cycle you can take a single-steroid cycle, which is usually testosterone, as it’s more mild than dianabol.
Testosterone is not only an extremely effective steroid for building muscle, but it’s also one of the best steroids on the market when it comes to side effects. Generally you won’t notice overly harsh side effects on testosterone (assuming your dose is low to moderate), whereas on other steroids you can feel like your body is completely shutting down.
If you’re more concerned with fat loss, as opposed to building muscle, you can take anavar (oxandrolone) instead of testosterone. Or you can run it alongside test for even more gains.
The I-WANT-GAINS Cycle
- 8 weeks of dianabol and deca-durabolin
- 8 weeks of testosterone and deca-durabolin
If you’re eager for huge muscle gains during your first cycle, bodybuilders often stack these bulking steroids together.
As a beginner, if you stack steroids together, you might experience more side effects than just running one compound. However, by combining different steroids together, your gains will be far greater.
These 2 cycles (above) will give you more muscle and strength gains compared to the other cycles outlined in this article. Deca is an amazingly powerful bulking steroid when used with substances like dianabol or testosterone; further boosting protein synthesis and making your muscles appear thick and full.
Arnold’s Stack: Suitable for Beginners
As previously mentioned, dianabol and deca were thought to be two of the main steroids in Arnold Schwarzenegger’s cycle that helped him transform from a weedy Austrian teen into a Mr Olympia legend (okay weedy was a little harsh).
Rich Piana’s First Steroid Cycle
Testosterone and deca were the two compounds in Rich Piana’s first ever cycle, which he described as his “best ever cycle”.
He said that trenbolone and anadrol were the best steroids he’s ever taken; which indicates how well his body responded (to even weaker steroids) during his first steroid cycle.
Typical Steroid Gains For a Newbie
How much muscle will you gain from your first steroid cycle?
This is a good question, and the answer depends on what steroids you take, how much you take, how long your cycle lasts and your genetics.
However, assuming you use the steroids mentioned in this article, take them for the time-span mentioned AND you have standard genetics; you can expect to gain 20-30lbs.
Most of this weight is likely to be in the form of muscle, with some being fluid retention. Oral dianabol and deca durabolin will cause the most water retention out of the steroids listed in this article. Testosterone can also cause fluid accumulation, however if you do an anavar-only cycle you won’t gain any water, as it has diuretic properties.
It’s worth noting that some users might take testosterone with anavar and only gain 10lbs. They could look amazing in the mirror and feel like their body’s transformed by 10x over, but only have 10lbs to show for it on the scales. This can happen when a user gains 15lbs of muscle and burns 5lbs of fat. This is a dramatic transformation, however if you’re judging your gains by the number on your scales – you might end up a little disappointed.
Looking in the mirror and taking before/after photos is a much more effective way to monitor your gains, than by standing on the scales. Especially if you’re running steroids together that have both muscle-building and fat-burning properties.
Do You Need PCT?
PCT stands for post-cycle therapy, which is the phase where bodybuilders try to desperately maintain the muscle mass and strength they gained from their cycle.
Post-cycle, your testosterone production plummets to abnormally low levels. As a result, your body has now shifted from being extremely anabolic, to now catabolic.
Catabolic = muscle-wasting state
One trick bodybuilders often implement to help their testosterone levels recover during this period is to take drugs like clomid or nolvadex. Essentially these are anti-estrogens, so by lowering the female sex hormone, T levels begin to surge again.
However, these drugs will do very little, if any steroids are still in your system. Thus you need to make a note of the half lives of the steroids you take, so you can calculate when they’ve completely left your system. As soon as they have bodybuilders will start taking clomid/nolvadex to prevent any muscle loss.
The idea is that you run these drugs for several weeks (usually 2-3 weeks) and by the end of this time, your natural testosterone production will be much higher in comparison to going cold turkey after a cycle.
HCG can also be utilized during this period too, to help restore testicle size. HCG stimulates the leydig cells, which in turn causes an increase in semen volume (and larger testicles). Testicular shrinkage is almost guaranteed with any steroid cycle.
It’s important for beginners to run an effective PCT, not only to help cement their gains, but to prevent their hormone levels from crashing (which can impact you physically and mentally).
Can You Safely Take Steroids?
It’s worth mentioning that although these are the most common steroids used by beginners (due to their mild nature), they’re still illegal and can cause severe side effects.
Thus no anabolic steroid is “100% safe”, despite what any juiced up bodybuilder may tell you.
It’s the same as if someone wants to go on an alcohol binge for 2 months. Will you be okay? Probably yes, but it’s not healthy and certainly isn’t recommended by a doctor.
The key to staying as healthy as possible on anabolic steroids is to take low to moderate doses and for short periods of time.
This way your body will have ample time in-between cycles to recover and restore a homeostasis. People who do the most damage are the ones who are taking mega steroid doses and running them for far too long. Also they’re not giving their bodies enough time to recover after a cycle. When a user does all of these, the risk for long-term (irreversible) damage increases.
Also if a user is young (still going through puberty), the risks for side effects increase as a young person is not likely to be as educated as an older, more experienced bodybuilder. Thus larger doses are likely to be utilized and a less than adequate (or no) PCT protocol is often the case in younger users.
Also, a user under the age of 21 is still developing, thus taking AAS at this age may interfere with their bodies natural development, affecting them into adulthood.
A safer alternative would be to take ‘legal steroids’, otherwise known as ‘steroid alternatives’. These are FDA approved anabolics aimed to mimic the positive effects of steroids, but they don’t come with the harsh side effects. So, if you’re a beginner and you’re thinking about taking anabolic steroids, you might want to try steroid alternatives or prohormones first (which are lighter on the system). This way you won’t be putting your health/life at risk.
Also with ‘legal steroids’ they’re cheaper than anabolic steroids AND you won’t be breaking the law, so you’ll be able to sleep comfortably at night without having to worry that you can’t afford your rent, or that the police are going to bust down your door.
So, it’s completely up to you which steroids you use during your first cycle, but the 3 best steroids for beginners are considered to be:
- Oral testosterone
- Oral deca durabolin
- Oral dianabol
Steroids like anavar and clenbuterol are also suitable for beginners to take, as both of these are mild compounds. However clenbuterol and anavar are used for cutting purposes and thus wouldn’t produce any significant muscle gains.
Anavar is thought to be the safest steroid a bodybuilder can take.
Make sure you refrain from using injectables until your body starts to tolerate orals, and stay away from steroids such as: anadrol and trenbolone as these are too harsh for a beginner. Also do not take steroids if you have any health issues, or any conditions that run in your family, as this will put you more at risk of developing severe side effects.
Lastly, your first steroid cycle will often produce the best muscle gains of your life; so be sure to train like a lion and eat like a king during this period to maximize your gains.
Llewellyn, William (2011), Anabolics. Jupiter, FL: Molecular Nutrition. pp. 376-386, 478-488, 494-501, 705-714,
O’Connor M.D, Thomas (2018), America on Steroids: A Time to Heal. Cheshire, CT: Metabolic Promotion LLC. pp. 57-77, 91-97.
Dr O'Connor's the author of the book: America on Steroids - A Time to Heal, and has worked with many elite bodybuilders. He's also been featured in Muscle & Fitness, Muscular Development, whilst appearing in the bodybuilding film documentary Generation Iron 3.