I advise my AAS patients to use small amounts of HCG (250IU to 500IU) two days each week, right from the beginning of the cycle. This serves to maintain testicular form and function. It makes more sense to me to keep the horse in the barn, so to speak, then to have to chase it across three counties later on. I am also a big fan of maintaining estrogen within physiological ranges. Both therapies have been shown to hasten recovery.
Any more than 500IU of HCG per day causes too much aromatase activity. Some feel aromatase is actually toxic to the Leydig cells of the testes. You are then inducing primary hypogonadism (which is permanent) while treating steroid-induced secondary (hypogonadotrophic) hypogonadism (which is temporary–hopefully).
If 250IU or 500IU on two days each week isn’t enough to stave off testicular atrophy, then I recommend using it more days each week (as opposed to taking larger doses). In fact, I wouldn’t mind having a guy use 250IU per day ALL THROUGH the cycle. Those that have tell me they thus avoid that edgy, burned-out feeling they usually get. They also say they simply feel better each day. Subjective reports, to be sure, but they are hard not to appreciate. Especially when HCG is so inexpensive.
The testes are then ready, willing and able to again produce testosterone at the end of the cycle. LH levels rise fairly rapidly, but endogenous testosterone production is limited by lack of use. I also want to make sure a SERM, such as Clomid or Nolvadex, is at effective serum dosage (around 100mg QD for Clomid, 20-40mg QD for Nolvadex) when serum androgen levels drop to a concentration roughly equal to 200mg of testosterone per week. That is when androgenic inhibition at the HP no longer dominates over estrogenic antagonism with respect to inducing LH production. Of course, if the fellow has been doing Clomid or Nolvadex all along the way (and I now prefer Nolvadex over Clomid, due to the possibility of negative sides from the Clomid), he is all set to simply continue it at the end (no need to switch from one to the other). BTW, I see no evidence of any benefit in using BOTH SERM’s at the same time. I used to think a couple of weeks of the SERM was enough; now I like to see an entire month after the last shot of AAS (and migration of long to short esters as the cycle matures). Tapering the SERM is probably a good idea during the last week, as well.
I want my patients to stop taking HCG within a week after the end of the cycle. The testosterone production it induces will further inhibit recovery, as will using Androgel, or any other testosterone preparation, while in recovery. There is no escaping this, as there is no such thing as a “bridge”. Just because you are not inhibiting the HPTA for the entire 24 hours does not mean you are not suppressing it at all. IOW, you can’t “fool” the body—it is smarter than you are.
I like arimidex during the cycle (in fact, consider use of an AI while taking aromatisables a necessity) but it ABSOLUTELY should not be used post cycle (even though it has been shown to increase LH production) because the risk of driving estrogen too low, and therefore further damaging an already compromised Lipid Profile, is too great (this also drives libido back into the ground—and we don’t want that, do we?).
All this is meant to get my guys through recovery as fast as possible (the real goal, yes?). So far, all of them who have tried it have reported they are recovering faster than when they have tried other protocols.