For athletes who want to bulk up without body fat to build lean muscle mass, pro hormones can offer a competitive edge.
These chemical compounds spark the body to create its own “steroids,” and increase testosterone levels without the need for testosterone boosters or artificial steroids.
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- Top 3 Best Pro Hormones
- What Are Pro Hormones
- The History of Prohormones
- What is Designer Anabolic Steroid Control?
- Illegal or discontinued Prohormones (LSIIT)
- Are Pro Hormones Still Legal?
- How Do Pro Hormones Work?
- Are prohormones safe?
- What can you expect from legal prohormones?
- Popular Compounds
- Stacking Pro Hormones
- Pro Hormone Side Effects
- When Is the Best Time to Take Pro Hormones?
- Cycling Pro Hormones
- Pro Hormones and PCT
- The Best PCT For Prohormones
- Top Pro Hormones Reviewed
- Dietary Advice to optimize results
Top 3 Best Pro Hormones
Here are our top four picks for prohormones that develop optimal size and strength:
What Are Pro Hormones
Technically, a prohormone (aka pro streiod) is a precursor to a hormone.
Introducing prohormones into the body is a way to jump-start production, encouraging the body to build its own biologically active hormones.
In the fitness world, these substances often inhabit the same category as steroids and testosterone boosters.
The History of Prohormones
Prohormones first appeared towards the end of the 20th century. Designed by a chemist called Patrick Arnold, they were introduced as a “legal” alternative to anabolic steroids and proposed to have similar effects. Androstenedione was Arnold’s initial creation. Androstenedione was quickly followed by a number of other supplements like 4-Androstenediol, 19-Norandrostenediol, 1-4-androstadienedione and 5 alpha androstenediol to name just a few.
These all had different effects, some being converted to testosterone in the body, while others were converted in the body to anabolic hormones such as nandrolone, boldenone, and dihydrotestosterone (DHT).
Prohormones grew in popularity but exploded into the mainstream following the revelation that “Homerun King” Mark McGwire and other high-profile athletes had been supplementing with them. It was believed that prohormones led to McGwire breaking records and, in tandem, had supplement companies breaking the bank to release their own patented versions of prohormones.
Arnold’s company was however at the forefront of innovation and released the prohormone 1-AD into the market. 1-AD was the first prohormone considered to be of comparable effectiveness to illegal steroids such as Winstrol or Primobolan.
In fact, at the time of its introduction, the buzz surrounding its comparable effectiveness to the steroid trenbolone acetate was a sense of excitement yet to be replicated with the release of a supplement within the health and fitness industry.
Companies rushed to create their own unique forms of prohormones, with variants created to specifically mimic certain kinds of steroids. Prohormones flooded the shelves and were a huge hit amongst athletes, bodybuilders and regular members of the general public alike.
“A safe, legal alternative to anabolic steroids? Why wouldn’t I take them!?” This consensus thought was short lived however as evidence emerged which seriously questioned the safety of the supplements. It was uncovered that many of these compounds were extremely toxic to the liver and reported cases of high blood pressure and cardiovascular events became more and more frequent.
What is Designer Anabolic Steroid Control?
The legality of these prohormones became questionable following the high-profile sporting performance related cases, the effects they were having on people’s physiques and the health revelations. In 2004, George Bush signed into law the Anabolic Steroid Control Act.
This legislative act places both anabolic steroids and some androgen prohormones on a list of “controlled substances”.
The bill expanded the list of anabolic steroids regulated by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to include a list of prohormones and the false labelling of anabolic steroids as prohormones (and vice versa). The bill established a penalty of up to $500,000 against those found to be falsely labelling their anabolic steroid products. Penalties would also be enforced for those caught distributing the products (which includes retail vendors) with each individual product sold considered a separate violation.
Illegal or discontinued Prohormones (LSIIT)
The Anabolic Steroid Control Act includes the following prohormones;
- Androstanediol (3β,17β-dihydroxy-5α-androstane and 3α,17β-dihydroxy-5α-androstane)
- Androstanedione (5α-androstan-3,17-dione)
- 1-Androstenediol (3α,17β-dihydroxy-5α-androst-1-ene)
- 4-Androstenediol (3β,17β-dihydroxy-androst-4-ene)
- 5-Androstenediol (3β,17β-dihydroxy-androst-5-ene)
- 1-Androstenedione (5α-androst-1-en-3,17-dione)
- 4-Androstenedione (androst-4-en-3,17-dione)
- 5-Androstenedione (androst-5-en-3,17-dione)
- Norandrostenediol (19-nor-4-androstenediol or 3β,17β-dihydroxyestr-4-ene)
- 19-Nor-4-androstenediol (3α,17β-dihydroxyestr-4-ene)
- 19-Nor-5-androstenediol (3β,17β-dihydroxyestr-5-ene and 3α,17β-dihydroxyestr-5-ene)
- Norandrostenedione (19-nor-4-androstenedione or estr-4-en-3,17-dione)
- 19-Nor-5-androstenedione (estr-5-en-3,17-dione)
- Any salt, ester, or ether of a drug or substance listed above
Are Pro Hormones Still Legal?
In 2014, Congress banned steroids with the Designer Anabolic Steroid Control Act of 2014.
HR 4771 defines drugs and hormonal substances that are similar to or derived from anabolic steroids based on the intent and pharmacological effects of each product.
That said, many of the stipulations of HR 4771 are broad enough that prohormones are an exception to its rules.
However, the Attorney General can issue a ban on any other drug or substance based on the compound’s properties and intended use.
Another important note is that prohormones can show up on drug tests, suggesting anabolic steroid use.
Professional athletes, government workers, and military personnel are typically the only groups who would come under scrutiny from using these supplements.
In general, drug tests don’t cover testing for anabolic steroids since those tests are not cost-effective.
Different compounds also leave the body at varying rates, so while some supplements leave the system within days, others stick around for up to five months.
How Do Pro Hormones Work?
Pro steriods are a supplement that bodybuilders and other athletes consume.
They’re a precursor to the testosterone and dihydrotestosterone, which means that by supplementing your body with these supplements, you’re prepping it to create its own muscle-building hormones.
As your body metabolizes the pro steroids, the endocrine system uses those building blocks to create more muscle.
The endocrine system is the collection of glands that produce hormones that regulate many of the body’s essential functions.
Pituitary, thyroid, parathyroid, and adrenal glands plus the pancreas and ovaries or testicles make up the endocrine system.
Because this system reaches full development after puberty, only adults should use these types of supplements.
Are prohormones safe?
The safety of prohormones has certainly come under fire and rightly so. When investigated, the altered hormonal profile caused by prohormone intake is similar to the hormonal profiles observed in men with gynecomastia, prostate cancer, testicular cancer, and pancreatic cancer.
Whether the prolonged use of prohormones results in these end outcomes is difficult to distinguish (because of poor quality studies and the ethical hurdle of performing a study directly investigating this link) however, anecdotally, cases have been reported and associated with prohormone use.
Additionally, prolonged ingestion of androstenedione or androstenediol has been shown to reduce levels of “good” cholesterol within 1 week of use. It is unknown how long recovery from this side effect takes. Reduced levels of our “good” cholesterol (high-density lipoprotein C) have been associated with an increased risk for heart disease.
Animal studies have also shown that certain prohormones can contribute to hypertrophy in parts of the brain associated with regulating aggression which suggest long term development of negative psychological effects; coined “roid rage” in popular media.Prohormone usage has also been speculated to stunt growth, contribute to painful erections and even cause erectile dysfunction.
Read Also: Top 4 Best Estrogen Blockers for Men
What can you expect from legal prohormones?
The prohormones of today are much safer than those previously investigated and arguably more effective to a certain degree. This is down to the new generation of prohormones having a better delivery system and absorption rate.
Manufacturers have introduced a liposomal delivery system, used in the medical field as a carrier for drugs. In layman’s terms, this delivery system simultaneously protects the molecule from degradation, while allowing it to be more soluble.
In general, these new generation prohormones have been associated with multiple benefits;
- Increased muscle mass
- Decreased fat mass
- Increased endurance
- Decreased recovery time
- Increased strength.
They also have a reportedly lower incidence of side effects, with only minor symptoms presenting in some cases (acne for example).
Because of the government’s role in regulating supplements, certain ingredients no longer appear on the market.
As a result, the following compounds have become accessible for developing muscle mass.
1-Andro is an androgen that converts into Stanolone when you ingest it. It reportedly has few side effects, making it a top choice in many formulations. It’s also earned a reputation as a cutting prohormone.
Another chemical that changes inside the body is 4-Androsterone, and its status as a bulking compound makes it a high-ranking ingredient in the hardcore supplement formulas.
The compound Epiandrosterone contains androsterone within it, and it converts to Dihydrotestosterone (DHT) in the body.
This supplement ingredient is naturally occurring in most mammals and exits the body through urine.
This compound is unique because the DHT it creates inhibits estrogen.
This precursor to active hormones becomes Nandrolone in a two-step conversion process.
Because it acts on different pathways than 1-Androsterone, its use as a stacking prohormone is common.
1,4-androstadiene is a precursor to Boldione, and it’s highly anabolic. Its traits help promote muscularity, strength, and recovery.
Stacking Pro Hormones
Many individuals stack prohormones for faster results and to target specific goals. Combining multiple supplements puts a massive strain on your body’s systems, so many sources recommend using cycle support and post-cycle products to ensure your body can recover properly.
Most users will stack prohormones for a range of two to three weeks, along with other support supplements.
The primary goal is usually either cutting or bulking, and the goal dictates which combination of prohormones you’ll want to use, along with how often you should take them.
Pro Hormone Side Effects
According to Livestrong, some side effects of prohormones are liver stress, reduced HDL cholesterol, increased blood pressure, acne, and male breast growth.
Because most prohormones have extra molecules that keep them from breaking down in your liver, that organ must work harder.
While prohormones are arguably more “natural” than steroids because they prompt the body to build its own steroidal compounds, they do carry more risks than injectable steroids.
However, the effects of prohormones are often milder than the results of steroids, in both positive and negative aspects.
Because prohormones directly approach your endocrine system, young athletes should not take them.
Taking prohormones (or other supplements) can damage maturing systems, so people under at least age 18 should not take them,
When Is the Best Time to Take Pro Hormones?
While each supplement comes with its own directions for use, the standard recommendation is to space out the capsules throughout the day.
Some users start with a dose first thing in the morning, but many manufacturers advise consuming the pills with food for best results.
For people with sensitive stomachs or who are new to the supplements, it’s best to take each tablet with food.
Keep in mind that many prohormone supplements require liver support, and you may want to take those additions at the same time for convenience.
A few support supplements that aid liver function are N-acetyl cysteine, milk thistle, and SAMe. These ingredients help detoxify the liver.
To boost your HDL cholesterol (the “good” cholesterol), nutritionists suggest consuming policosanols, guggal lipids, garlic, red yeast rice, niacin, and fenugreek before, during, and after each cycle.
Cycling Pro Hormones
Whether you are taking single capsules or are stacking prohormones, you’ll want to stick to a cycle during which you’ll track results.
Cycles can last from three to six weeks, although experienced users might prolong cycles depending on their physical goals.
During each cycle, consider which liver or cholesterol support you might need.
Many prohormone formulations are non-methylated or include compounds that aid in the liver and digestive processes.
You’ll need to thoroughly read the labels of each product you choose and decide what type of support to take.
A break of four to eight weeks gives your body time to rebuild its natural levels and functions, but it’s possible that longer breaks can wind up costing you some of that newly built muscle.
Ideally, you should match your prohormone cycle with a recovery cycle of the same length.
Pro Hormones and PCT
Because your body is receiving testosterone outside its normal production levels, natural production can shut down during prohormone dosing.
PCT manipulates your natural testosterone processes back to normal and helps maintain muscle mass, but concerns about liver health also drive the recommendation that athletes take a recovery period to boost their body’s internal systems.
Some examples of PCT supplements are Selective Estrogen Receptor Modulators, Aromatase Inhibitors, and other supplements.
Selective Estrogen Receptor Modulators (SERMs) controls your body’s estrogen levels and can prevent mammary tissue from developing. It also helps testosterone rise back to pre-cycle levels.
SERMs like Nolvadex, Torem-fareston, and Clomid are common for PCT. Aromatase inhibitors also help regulate estrogen by keeping your body from synthesizing androgens into estrogen.
Other supplements like pharmaceuticals, testosterone boosters, and herbal capsules also aid in recovery.
The Best PCT For Prohormones
PCT supplement stacks should act on two fronts; raising testosterone levels and acting as an oestrogen blocker and or reducing oestrogen levels. They should also have a restorative or protective effect on liver cells and vicariously help retain any gains in lean muscle mass and or strength (which is typically by supporting testosterone levels).
Natural testosterone boosters include d-aspartic acid, fenugreek, ashwagandha, tribulis terrestris and ashwagandha. These have been associated with increasing testosterone levels and improving exercise performance in men.
Selective oestrogen receptor modulators are also an important component of a PCT stack. These can inhibit the effects of oestrogen, an important consideration when following a PCT protocol.Finally, a stack should look to include a supplement which supports liver health and function. Milk thistle is the most popular and shown to be effective in treating hepatic (liver) damage and disorders.
Top Pro Hormones Reviewed
The sheer volume of supplements available online makes it difficult to choose which compounds are ideal for your goals.
Here are our top five choices for building muscle mass and generating strength.
1-testosterone is an extremely stable alternative to testosterone that, due to its chemical structure, won’t be converted into oestrogen or DHT. 1-testosterone has a very high anabolic and androgenic potency even without being metabolized. It has been reported that 1-testosterone has an anabolic to androgenic ratio of 200/100, which is superior to testosterone!
It also uses an advance liposomal transport system making it all the more effective. Described as a “dry” compound (essentially meaning it avoids the often undesirable side effect of intracellular and sub-cutaneous water retention), and one that is able to enhance lean body mass and strength gains, it is arguably a perfect option for either those looking to gain lean muscle or who are looking to get leaner and retain mass.
Take 1 tablet with breakfast and 1 tablet with dinner (up to 8 weeks)
1-testosterone will require a PCT protocol post cycle and it would be advised to utilize a milk thistle supplement alongside your PCT stack.
- No aromatization/conversion to estrogen
- Promotes higher levels of free testosterone
- Increases nitrogen retention
- Can cause some users to feel lightheaded (be sure to keep up water intake)
This product has been discontinued
You can use Andro Quad for up to eight weeks bulking, cutting, and increased aggression.
These prohormones are non-methylated and have liposomal technology that gives your liver a break.
Epiandro helps heighten aggression and inhibits estrogen conversion, which leads to less water retention and more fat loss.
Laxogenin aids in protein synthesis for developing lean muscle and strength.
At the same time, it helps inhibit the breakdown of protein, so your recovery is smoother. 1-Andro and 4-Andro bump up muscle gains without estrogen production side effects.
As a dietary supplement take 1 capsule up to three times daily spaced 4 to 6 hours apart. Do not use Andro Quad for longer than 8 weeks continuously. Take at least 8 weeks off between cycles.
Minimal side effects thanks to its chemical structure and delivery system. However, reports of heightened aggression have been logged and those with aggression issues should be aware before taking that this could exaggerate them.
- Three main prohormones
- Increases protein synthesis and neutralizes cortisol response with Laxogenin
- Requires an eight week or longer recovery period
AbNORmal is one of the more potent and effective prohormones on the market. Not only does it use the significantly more effective liposomal delivery system but it also provides three highly effective forms of 19-NorDHEA (19-NorAndrost-4 ene-3b-ol,17-one). 19-NorDHEA is the precursor to Nandrolone (otherwise known as “deca”), one of the most anabolic compounds on the market.
As a dietary supplement, take one (1) tablet two (2) times per day. Do not exceed two (2) tablets daily.
Aside from requiring regular PCT protocols, abNORmal is relatively safe comparative to its competitors. It is non-methylated, meaning that it is virtually non-toxic to your liver, unlike other similar products and can be cycled for up to 8 weeks safely.
- Pro Anabolic Precursor
- Time-Released Delivery System
- Promotes Lean Muscle Growth
- Uses Liposomal Technology
- Relatively expensive
Olympus Labs’ Sup3R-19 review
Sup3r 19 is a precursor to an active hormone, and eventually becomes Nandrolone (Deca) through a two-step conversion process. Because this compound is non-methylated with liposomal delivery, you likely won’t need liver care support during a cycle. This also guarantees its effectiveness in promoting lean muscle growth and improving performance.
As an adult dietary supplement, take two to three capsules daily with or without meals. Do not exceed maximum suggested dosage of three capsules in any single given 24-hour period of time.
Minimal side effects thanks to its chemical structure and delivery system. PCT is still recommended however.
- Re-comping/ Bulking Agent
- Increased Strength/ Size
- Increased Fat Loss/ Muscle Retention
- Muscle Growth and Differentiation
- No liver care required due to liposomal delivery
- Low toxicity
- Must stack with other supplements for best results
Innovative Labs Helladrol Review
Another great choice for stacking, a combination of Andros increase muscle mass and strength, increase your appetite, help improve recovery, and even boost libido.
The Cyclosome technology that Innovative Labs uses helps bypass the body’s barriers so your system can fully utilize each component.
This combination of ingredients enhances protein synthesis, prevents estrogenic side effects, reduces water retention, and is non-methylated, so you don’t need liver support.
Take 2-3 tablets daily with food. Do not exceed 4 tablets per day.
Minimal side effects thanks to its chemical structure and delivery system. PCT is still recommended however and it is advised to supplement milk thistle.
- Formulated with Anabolic & Androgenic Agents
- Legal Pro Hormone
- Amino Acid Catalytic Converter
- Promotes Protein Synthesis
- Boosts Testosterone Levels
- Enhances Athletic Performance
- Cyclosome Technology
- Increases Muscle Mass
- Increases Appetite
- Helps Increase Strength
- Increases Energy
- Boosts Libdio
- Improves Recovery
- Need to take a break twice as long as on-cycle time
Dietary Advice to optimize results
Your dietary intake will have a significant impact on how successful your cycle is. If you’re aiming to gain It’d be recommended that you increase your total calorie intake (by at least 10% above maintenance) and ensure that your protein intake doesn’t dip below 1.6g / kg of bodyweight.
Recommendations for athlete’s range as high as 2.2g/ kg of bodyweight, however the ability for the body to use even greater amounts of dietary protein for muscle protein synthesis may be possible when using these supplements. One thing to note is your dietary fat profile; research shows that when you’re in a calorie deficit, a dietary fat profile which favours “healthy fats” (mono- and polyunsaturated fat sources) over “unhealthy fats” (saturated and trans fats) may improve body composition.
If you’re in a fat / weight loss phase, aiming for a protein intake greater than 2g / kg of bodyweight (which increase dependant on your training experience / age) would be recommended as would a relatively conservative calorie deficit (so as to best retain performance).
If the calorie deficit is more severe, you’ll lose bodyfat faster however run the risk of greater loss in performance and lean body mass. The opposite applies for a more conservative approach.
Read Also: 11 Foods that Lower Testosterone
Training Recommendations to get the most out of your cycle
Training shouldn’t change a huge amount. Many “experts” will recommend doubling training volume; not only is this impractical but it also increases the risk of injury. Prohormone cycling does allow you to recover faster, but bear in mind adaptation occurs during the recovery phase not whilst training. So, if you never allow your body the chance to repair and adapt, you’ll be missing out on the true effectiveness of your prohormone cycle.
Follow a program based around progressive overload, challenging you to failure (safely) and focusing on working at a relatively taxing percentage of your one rep max for rep schemes in around 8 – 15 reps (for hypertrophy and size).
• Are prohormones dangerous?
Previous generations would have been more harmful to the body, particularly the liver, and theoretically increased the risk of heart disease. Modern prohormones have a much more advanced chemical structure and delivery system which significantly reduces their potential to cause harm.
• Do prohormones raise testosterone?
Yes, prohormones do elevate testosterone levels.
• What is the strongest/best prohormone?
The strongest / best prohormone is dependant entirely on your goals and what you hope to achieve using them. It is down to personal opinion and many company’s offer competitive offerings so it’d be unfair to suggest one stands above all others. Choosing the right prohormone for you whilst focusing on your diet, training and recovery will ensure you get the optimal results from using them.
• Is Arimistane a prohormone?
Arimistane is not a prohormone, it is in fact designed for PCT. It is a renowned aromatase inhibitor, simply meaning it can effectively lower and controls oestrogen levels.
• How long does it take to see results from prohormones?
Strength gains can come within days of usage, however developing muscle mass will take longer and again is dependant on other factors (diet and training for example). Your perception of results will also depend on your bodyfat; muscle is more visible at lower body fat, and that can skew a person’s perception of how much muscle they’ve actually gained (if it’s underneath a denser layer of fat).
• Can prohormones cause hair loss?
It can increase the likelihood of it but only if you’re already genetically prone.
• Do you need PCT after prohormone?
Yes, it would be recommended to always follow a PCT course after using prohormones for an extended amount of time.
• Is prohormone a steroid?
Prohormones aren’t technically steroids; they’re precursors to steroids, meaning they only truly become them once metabolized in the body.
If you’re looking to make massive gains, there are endless products on the market that offer bulking, cutting, and recovery support.
With our top five picks for hardcore supplements cycling, you’ll be off to a great start toward your ideal physique.