Why You Should Never Frontload (‘Kickstart’) a Cycle: Homeostasis

The following article was written by CFC

Basically, all bodybuilders are in a battle against homeostasis. We try to overcome the body’s tendency to not gain mass by eating more food, training more frequently or harder, taking more supplements, and so on. The idea being that more of [whatever] sends a stronger message for protein synthesis. Let’s call all these compounds and techniques ‘growth factors’.

Well eventually, as we all know, these growth factors stop working. We ramp up the training intensity, take more creatine and so on, but growth plateaus regardless. You may be on a bulk cramming down the burgers, but the body finds a way to overcome this and prevent the growth message getting through – probably by elevating myostatin levels, among other mechanisms.

At this point bodyfat may go up quickly, but LBM gain is closing in on zero net growth. So we have to take a break, usually shrink back a bit, and let the body get used to the absence of all these growth factors – creating a new ‘normal’ or set-point.

In the process myostatin and all the other inhibitory mechanisms drop back too – with a slight lag, hence the loss of mass. At this point, hopefully we’re holding more mass than when we started the last bulking cycle, and now we’re ready to go and repeat it all over again, in the hope of retaining even more at the end of it; rinse repeat; rinse repeat.

Steroids fit into this homeostatic cycle in exactly the same way as the other growth factors, albeit to a much higher degree. The growth benefit they confer is not an absolute factor. Just like with increasing training intensity or food intake, it’s the relative change compared to what you were doing before that accounts for their benefit.

To make this obvious, let’s use an example:

Person A has been on a cycle of 1000mg test for a while and his growth has plateaued. So he increases the dose by 500mg for the next 10 weeks (it could just as easily be a different compound he’s adding instead, btw). And suddenly, he experiences some new growth. Just what we want and what we would expect.

Person B has also been training for years and his growth is at a plateau. So he’s just starting a cycle, which is 500mg test total for 10 weeks.

In other words, they are both doing exactly the same thing in adding 500mg testosterone to their bodies after hitting a plateau.

But all other things being equal, who is going to gain more from that 500mg over the next 10 weeks?

No prizes for guessing Person B.

Person B is experiencing a dramatic change in his testosterone levels of several multiples of what he produces naturally. Meanwhile Person A was only increasing his testosterone level by 50%. For Person A to even have a chance at a similar result, he’d probably need to take something like 3-4000mg, which would be a relatively similar increase.

Now if you take this pattern, and programme it into just a regular cycle, you can see that ultimately the most effective strategy for overcoming homeostasis on AAS is to continuously create as much relative change as you can. To be constantly tapering-up the dose from the lowest effective level.

Now I ask anyone, if you intend to frontload your cycle with 1000mg of testosterone for a few weeks (or an oral steroid or whatever), how the fuck do you plan on creating much relative change after? You’re starting out so high, the only way up is through the stratosphere. And since it’s only a frontload, your serum levels may actually start to decline after peaking in the first month!

So fine, you’ll bloat up quickly at first and it will look like an amazing idea because the changes come on fast and you’ll leave Mr Tortoise behind. But good luck if you thought those bloated 10lbs were solid real muscle. And good luck maintaining that pace for a solid 12 weeks of continuous real growth while your testosterone levels flatten out or even decline. The body’s homeostatic mechanisms kick in so quickly that you’re fighting a losing battle from that point onwards.

Meanwhile Mr Tortoise, who started out low and slow but keeps upping the dose, soon overtakes you despite still being on less AAS, all the while staying harder and drier and never once resembling the bloated watery Pufferfish you became thanks to your frontload.

Which is why I say frontloading is one of the most retarded practices there is. By boosting AAS levels up to a peak within the first weeks, you are literally killing off your future growth potential. You’re wasting your most effective tool for growth (relative change) by throwing it all in at the start. And you’re deluding yourself that the rapid changes you saw were real keepable gains post-cycle.

The clever approach to cycling – and indeed bodybuilding in general, given our battle with homeostasis – is to always be ‘confusing’ the body (and overcoming myostatin) by upping whatever variable you’re playing with (be it food intake, training intensity, supplements or AAS) from a low starting point.

Thus I advise guys to do the complete opposite of frontloading. Start your cycle on a dose that’s barely over natural levels, so you can then spend the next 12-15+ weeks gradually raising the dose, achieving the solid relative change we all want, while still staying at a sensible level and without experiencing all the negative side-effects that high doses entail.

This should be commonsense, even on the most anecdotal level and to the most novice trainee – after all, we all know our bodies plateau sometime after we make a change. So to be constantly changing (periodising) and tapering up various compounds and strategies from their lowest effective level is self-evidently the most efficient way to build muscle.

4 Responses

  1. Paul

    Hey, (fellow redditor here) so for a first cycle or… any basic test cycle you would recommend starting really low instead of the basic ~500mg/week?


    1. Matteo

      Start with 300 TestE for 6w then raise Test E to 600 for other 6 weeks then stop.
      Keep Aromasin / Adex on hand.
      0.5mg Adex eod can be good for 300 Test
      1mg Adex eod for 600 TestE.

      This will be the correct way to cycle without plateaus.

      I am also convinced that Test will never plateau since it’s not a “normal steroid” it’s ‘us”.


  2. Emmanuel

    Thanks for the article, but do you think that for compounds with long esters, like EQ for example, it could be beneficial to frontload?


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