As individuals become more experienced with anabolic/androgenic steroid use they may begin experimenting with the use of more than one steroid at a time. This practice is referred to as stacking.
Stacking is most common with advanced bodybuilders who find that at a certain level of physical development they begin hitting plateaus that are difficult to break with a previous singleagent approach.
In many cases, however, it may simply be the greater cumulative steroid dosage that is necessary for the resumed progress.
Stacking usually involves the combination of a more androgenic steroid with one or more primarily anabolic agents. On the anabolic side, common steroids of choice include boldenone, methenolone, nandrolone, oxandrolone, and stanozolol. Testosterone, oxymetholone, or methandrostenolone will serves as the androgenic base of most stacks.
The reasons for stacking androgenic and anabolic steroids together in this manner are two fold. On the one hand, high doses of testosterone, oxymetholone, or methandrostenolone are prone to producing strong androgenic and estrogenic side effects.
Stacking first became very popular during the 1960s, a time when effective estrogen maintenance drugs were not widely available. An anabolic-androgen stack allowed the use of a higher total steroid dosage than would be tolerable with a single androgen. Anabolic-androgen pairing also appears to offer efficacy advantages over the use of primarily anabolic agents alone, even when they are taken in higher doses. This conflicts with the original expectations for “anabolic” steroids, which were specifically designed to emphasize muscle-building properties, but is repeatedly noticed by users.
The reason the basic androgenic steroids are more anabolically productive is not fully understood, but is believed to involve the interplay of estrogenic hormones, androgenic stimulation in the central nervous system, and potentially other unidentified synergisms necessary for optimal muscle growth.
Today, the availability of drugs that can reduce estrogenic activity makes the continued use of single agent cycles based on a strong androgen like testosterone enanthate or cypionate much more viable than it was decades ago. Side effects like gynecomastia and water retention can now be effectively minimized with anti-estrogens or aromatase inhibitors, even when taking higher doses.
Individuals should be aware that stacking is, likewise, not a necessary practice. It is likely to remain commonly applicable in competitive bodybuilding circles, however, or when an individual is sure they have progressed as far as they possibly can with a single-agent approach. Otherwise, for many athletes and recreational bodybuilders, the periodic use of a single steroid will be more than sufficient to maintain optimal levels of muscle mass and performance, and it may never be necessary to deviate from this approach.
Thank you for your interest,