Anabolic Research-Analyzing the Rich Piana Cycle THE PIANA CYCLE I’ve received many questions over the lately about “The Piana Cycle.” For those unfamiliar, Rich Piana is an amateur bodybuilder and prominent Internet figure. Piana, has been very open about his drug use. Combine this with a monstrous physique, charismatic personality and prominent social media presence, and his 1 million-plus followers make a lot of sense. Fast-forward to recently, when Mr. Piana posted his next cycle on Instagram for everyone to see. It is massive. He professes it is a rare pushing of the envelope, from which he expects to gain over 30 lean pounds. The result is one of the most talked-about topics in the steroid community. This month, I decided to combine my Anabolic Research Update and Anabolic Q&A columns and review this cycle, sharing my thoughts as to its safety and application. The Arsenal Now known widely as simply “The Piana cycle,” this program makes use of 13 different drugs; 11 of which are anabolic steroids. The cycle is a monster. If one were so inclined to repeat it, which of course I don’t encourage, it would require the following list of items. Take note that I did some rounding out of the numbers so they equaled normal packaging units. We’re looking at 13 standard 10-milliliter bottles of injectable anabolic-androgenic steroids (AAS), eight standard 100-tablet bottles of oral AAS, five kits of six-milligram Serostim hGH, three packs of 10,000 IU hCG and two ampules of testosterone propionate for good measure. The actual cost estimates for this cycle are enormous, of course. Even with a very well connected and affordable source, he is probably looking at spending in excess of $4,000 for this. And this presupposes access to cheap, diverted (insurance covered) Serostim. This could easily be a five-figure cycle, otherwise. 2 x 10 ml testosterone enanthate (300 mg/ml) 2 x 10 ml nandrolone decanoate (200 mg/ml) 2 x 10 ml drostanolone propionate (100 mg/ml) 500 tabs methandrostenolone (5 mg/tab) 2 x 10 ml testosterone cypionate (300 mg/ml) 2 x 10 ml trenbolone enanthate (200 mg/ml) 2 x 10 ml boldenone undecylenate (250 mg/ml) 100 tabs oxymetholone (50 mg/tab) 2 ml testosterone propionate (100 mg/ml) 1 x 10 ml methenolone enanthate (100 mg/ml) 200 tabs oxandrolone (5 mg/tab) 5 kits of Serostim hGH at 6 mg dose (7 vials) 3 kits of hCG at 10,000 IU dose (human chorionic gonadotropin) The Dosing Protocols The following details the week-by-week dosing protocols for the cycle. It runs for 16 weeks, or roughly four months. This is followed by a three-week PCT (post-cycle therapy) period utilizing hCG. I assume some anti-estrogens are also thrown in there. This is designed to help restore normal testosterone production more quickly. No doubt, during and for a while after a cycle like this, natural testosterone would be seriously suppressed. This could hinder one’s ability to retain their hard-earned gains, making PCT very important. To that end, Piana also makes use of hGHhere. This is not common during PCT, given the cost of hGH. However, the drug, at least under therapeutic conditions, has been shown to help maintain lean body mass during periods of low testosterone. In my opinion, it makes sense to experiment with it here. Week 1: 900 mg 150 mg TестоЭнка (Пн/Ср/Птн) 100 mg Deca (M/W/F) 50 mg Masteron (M/W/F) 2.25 IU hGH/day Week 2: 1,350 mg 225 mg TE (M/W/F) 150 mg Deca (M/W/F) 75 mg Masteron (M/W/F) 4.5 IU hGH/day Week 3: 1,800 mg 300 mg TE (M/W/F) 200 mg Deca (M/W/F) 100 mg Masteron (M/W/F) 4.5 IU hGH/day Week 4: 2,080 mg 300 mg TE (M/W/F) 200 mg Deca (M/W/F) 100 mg Masteron (M/W/F) 40 mg/day Dbol 4.5 IU hGH/day Week 5: 2,220 mg 300 mg TE (M/W/F) 200 mg Deca (M/W/F) 100 mg Masteron (M/W/F) 60 mg/day Dbol 4.5 IU hGH/day Week 6: 2,220 mg 900 mg TE (M) 600 mg Deca (W) 300 mg Masteron (F) 60 mg/day Dbol Week 7: 2,360 mg 900 mg TE (M) 600 mg Deca (W) 300 mg Masteron (F) 80 mg/day Dbol 4.5 IU hGH/day Week 8: 2,500 mg 900 mg TE (M) 600 mg Deca (W) 300 mg Masteron (F) 100 mg/day Dbol 4.5 IU hGH/day Week 9: 2,600 mg 300 mg TC (M/W/F) 200 mg Tren E (M/W/F) 250 mg EQ (M/W/F) 50 mg/day Anadrol 4.5 IU hGH/day Week 10: 2,950 mg 300 mg TC (M/W/F) 200 mg Tren E (M/W/F) 250 mg EQ (M/W/F) 100 mg/day Anadrol 4.5 IU hGH/day Week 11: 3,300 mg 300 mg TC (M/W/F) 200 mg Tren E (M/W/F) 250 mg EQ (M/W/F) 150 mg/day Anadrol 4.5 IU hGH/day Week 12: 3,300 mg 900 mg TC (M) 600 mg Tren E (W) 750 mg EQ (F) 150 mg/day Anadrol 4.5 IU hGH/day Week 13: 3,300 mg 900 mg TC (M) 600 mg Tren E (W) 750 mg EQ (F) 150 mg/day Anadrol 4.5 IU hGH/day Week 14: 3,300 mg 900 mg TC (M) 600 mg Tren E (W) 750 mg EQ (F) 150 mg/day Anadrol 4.5 IU hGH/day Week 15: 1,200 mg 200 mg TP (M) 100 mg Primobolan (M/W/F) Taper Anadrol Replace with 100 mg/day Anavar 4.5 IU hGH/day Week 16: 1,000 mg 100 mg Primobolan (M/W/F) 100 mg/day Anavar 4.5 IU hGH/day Weeks 17-19: PCT 7,500-15,000 IU hCG 4.5 IU hGH/day A Few Noteworthy Points First, this is a long cycle. Most AAS programs begin to notice diminishing returns somewhere around the eight-week mark, give or take. This program pushes into 16 weeks. To prevent stagnation, Piana shifts the drugs used at several points. You’ll notice the program begins with some basic lean mass-building drugs, and nearly halfway through, transitions over to stronger bulking agents. This isn’t a bad strategy for continued gains, of course. The cumulative dosage also steadily increases throughout this cycle, reaching well over three grams per week near the end. Provided Mr. Piana remains responsive to such high doses, this should also help prevent stagnation. The last couple of weeks are spent on a reduced dosage, with a more traditional hardening stack. Secondly, I note that at two points in the program, the cumulative weekly dosage of injectable AAS is maintained, but the intake schedule is drastically shifted. Instead of taking each drug three times per week, the full dose of each is given on a single day. This changes the pharmacokinetic pattern (drug distribution). Injecting these steroid esters three times weekly results in a more consistent blood level. Giving the full weekly dose on a single day results in greater variation. The latter may not be a bad option, however. While the hormone lows will be lower, the peaks will be higher. Some studies (and anecdote) seem to support this as a more effective dosing practice for gains, though there truly isn’t much data to draw from. Still, I find this an interesting aspect of the cycle, as it deviates from the norm in an attempt to extend drug efficacy without increasing dosage. The orals are often increased during these same weeks, though, so it may be difficult for one to discern the value of this practice, specifically. Third, and perhaps most basically, this is a lot of gear! A whole lot! He is taking four steroids at a time during most weeks … a total of 11 weeks on more than two grams of AAS per week … five weeks near or above three grams of AAS! When we are talking about doses in the grams per week like this, you should know we’re talking about a very serious cycle. The doses here would be excessive for regular recreational steroid users— FAR excessive, in fact. If you are new or even moderately experienced with AAS, you can note very good gains taking only one to two steroids at a time, with 10-20 percent of this cumulative dosage, for half the time. And certainly, you are not going to grow five to 10 times faster by doing this much more. I’m not going to ever say this is a smart cycle, but concede it makes more sense to see an extremely advanced professional bodybuilder trying something like it. That means if you’re not such an athlete, I don’t think a cycle like this should ever even cross your mind. Safety of the Piana Cycle This is the big issue, right? I’ve received many questions, and have seen many more comments on the safety of Mr. Piana’s proposed cycle. The sentiments are all across the board, often to extremes. Some feel Piana knows a lot about the drugs he is using, and thus must be using them safely. His risks should be low. Others insist running a cycle like this, especially at his age (44), is exceedingly dangerous. They feel he might be risking his very life. So, what do we really know about extreme cycles like this? Are they THAT dangerous? Can a smart bodybuilder run a multi-gram, multi-month cycle like this with minimal risk to one’s health? Most of us naturally want to assume that higher doses come with equivalently elevated health risks. The truth is, however, that we don’t really know if that is true. There is essentially no data on the health effects of excessive supratherapeutic dosages as such. The most “extreme” controlled trial I know of uses 600 milligrams of testosterone per week. That is one drug, in a cumulative dosage far lower than what we’re talking about here. We should assume that higher doses INCREASE health risks, but this is hard for us to quantify. To this point, we notice that many of the side effects of AAS misuse are manifest profoundly at moderate dosages. The effects on the cardiovascular system are a good example. Very strong shifts in cholesterol have been shown on doses far lower than we’re talking about here. I can personally attest to having single-digit HDL (good) cholesterol levels while taking only 50 milligrams per day of oxymetholone at one point. There isn’t much room to go from there! Should I automatically assume 150 milligrams would have been three times as bad for cardiovascular risk? What about the effects on endothelial flexibility, blood pressure and ventricular hypertrophy, to name just a few? There is some dose dependency with some things, for sure. However, we really don’t know HOW dose dependent these side effects are— where, if any, we reach ceilings in these changes. There is one area where we do know very clearly that the health risks are both dose and duration dependent. This concerns liver toxicity. And this is something I would take seriously on a cycle like this. Here, we’re looking at substantial doses of c-17 methylated (liver toxic) orals being taken continually for 13 weeks. In some cases, the doses are exceedingly high— for example, 100 milligrams daily of Dianabol. I find this to be “way much.” The most prudent advice is to limit such drugs to four to six weeks at a time, and keep the doses much lower. Switching from one liver-toxic drug to another, also, is unlikely to save you much hepatic strain. Conclusion That’s about all that I can tell you about the cycle. It is formidable, if not a bit frightening. It is certainly not something I think readers should repeat. Beyond that, I’m not in much of a position to pass judgment. I can’t evaluate one’s health merely by looking at them, nor am I in much of a position to determine what impact these drugs would have on Mr. Piana, either in the short or long term. I would recommend that others remember this, and express similar control. I am, however, quite interested to find out if he achieves the 30 pounds of lean body mass expected, and if he reports any problems with such dosing in particular. I wish him well, while I wish others caution trying to follow in his footsteps. William Llewellyn’s books (ANABOLICS, UNDERGROUND ANABOLICS and SPORT SUPPLEMENT REFERENCE GUIDE) are now available as e-Books on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and iTunes.