A prosteroid or designer steroid, is a (over the counter) substance that is actually a steroid but has not yet been classified as a controlled substance; a prohormone is simply one that requires an enzymic or other chemical interaction before becoming an active hormone.
Although many of the original prohormones/prosteroids such as Halodrol-50, by Gaspari Nutrition, are no longer sold because many of them were voluntarily discontinued by the manufacturer due to government pressure, many of the substances themselves were never made illegal, resulting in the later day production of clones of the originals. So basically, some of the original prohormones/prosteroids from years ago like Halodrol-50, are technically still available; you just have to know what you are looking for to find a clone, if one exists. Some of the prohormones/prosteroids were never even banned. Here are a few real prohormone or prosteroid supplements that are legally available. *Update: Since the publishing of this article, most – if not all – of the linked and described substances have been taken off the market.
Halodrol-50 was introduced to the bodybuilding world in 2005 by Gaspari Nutrition and is a prosteroid of Turinabol, the banned East German designer steroid. It is essentially a “diol” version of Turinabol. The original Halodrol-50 by Gaspari Nutrition may have been the single best selling hormonal product ever sold over the counter in the U.S. during its brief production period. Gaspari discontinued production of Halaodrol-50 in mid 2006 admist governmental pressure. Although Gaspari’s Halodrol-50 is no longer available, there are generic equivalents today such as Competitive Edge Labs H-Drol or EST Hemadrol. The typical dose for products such as H-Drol is 50mg-100mg a day, which equates to one to two tablets daily. This prosteroid is non-aromatizable, and exhibits a greater tendency for anabolic as compared to androgenic effect.
Effects & Side effects: Like the old prohormone 4-AD, this is a 4-en-3b-ol and so should have excellent first-pass conversion to the active compound in the liver. Oral Turinabol (the target hormone) will not aromatize and probably only has a moderate suppressive effect upon the HPTA. There is not a whole lot of literature out there on its anabolic potency, though Vida has it listed as less than one time the anabolic potency as methyltestosterone orally, so this is not the most potent stuff in the world. The Vida data on androgenicity is lacking, but the chemical’s combination of delta 1,2 unsaturation and 4-chloro substitution likely combine to make it pretty low in this regard. As a weak androgen and non-aromatizer, it probably does not have much liver toxicity, although being a 17a-methyl the potential is always there.
Bottom line is this stuff is one of the safer products out there, although dosages of at least 25-50 milligrams a day for men are probably needed for really noticeable effects. These effects nonetheless should be high quality— lean mass with minimal water retention. Chlorodehydromethylandrostenediol is a c17-alpha alkylated compound and is hence, hepatotoxic. Intake of c17-alpha alkylated steroids is commonly limited to 6-8 weeks, in an effort to avoid escalating liver strain. Studies have shown that taking an oral anabolic steroid with food may decrease its bioavailability so prosteroids and prohormones should be taken on an empty stomach.
This is very closely related steroid to the Oral Turinabol, differing only by the lack of the 1,2-double bond. It converts to a steroid called Methylclostebol that may or may not have been marketed in Europe at one time. Once again, the 4-chloro substitution prevents it from being aromatized and also prevents 5a-reduction to a DHT derivative so its androgenic potential is only moderate (Vida has it at 0.1 versus methyltest). Methylclostebol only has an anabolic rating of 0.4 versus methyltest, though, so this precursor— despite likely having excellent conversion— is not a really strong compound. But for safe and clean fun, it’s not a bad bet. It likely does not differ too much from the Oral Turinabol precursor in both potency and quality of results. This oral anabolic steroid is derived from testosterone and is also non aromatizable. This product was designed by Bruce Kneller, the same person that developed Halodrol, and was marketed as Promagnon by Peak Performance Labs and voluntarily discontinued in 2006. This product is closest in structure to chloromethyltestosterone, which is a non aromatizable and milder analog of methyltestosterone which displays 30-50% of the anabolic activity of methyltestosterone, with about 10% accompanying androgenic activity. Dosages: 50-100mg.
Methepitiostane is an oral anabolic steroid derived from dihydrotestosterone. This drug exhibits an anabolic effect that is roughly 12 times more pronounced than its androgenic effect, and also imparts an anti estrogenic effect. RPN’s product Havoc and IBE’s Epistane were introduced at practically the same time and considered interchangeable by many. However, it should be noted that even when two products are identical, users can experience different effects depending on the quality of the isomer, manufacturing process and so on. With Havoc and Epistane they are chemically very slightly different 2a,3a-epithio-17a-methyl-5a-androstan-17b-ol 2 (Havoc), and 2, 3a-epithio-17a-methyletioallo cholan-17b-ol (Epistane). Dosages are usually in the 10-30mg range. Competitive Edge Labs E-Stane is probably the cheapest listed version of Methepitiostane.
Effects & Side Effects: Contrary to the previous two entries— which were steroid precursors— this is an active steroid. It also differs from the previous two in that it is a very potent hormone. According to Vida, it possesses 11 times the anabolic potency of methyltest while being 0.9 as androgenic. In the lab it breaks down under heat and certain chemical conditions to the steroid DMT (17a-Methyl-androstan-2-en-17b-ol), which has similar potency. Whether this happens in the body is not clear, but the possibility exists that this compound is simply a pro-drug and it is DMT that is actually the physiologically active species in the body. This stuff is a methylated derivative of the Japanese drug Epitiostanol, which is used to treat breast cancer due to its estrogen antagonist action. Because of this property, the gains seen from its use are relatively dry. The extent of HPTA shutdown is unknown, but being a powerful hormone, it is not likely to be modest in this regard. Liver toxicity is unknown as well, however user reports are lacking in the usual subjective feedback that indicates heavy liver strain— lethargy, appetite disturbances, etc. This is one of the newest steroid products to hit the market and it is very popular right now. It probably is considered the best bang for the buck of the current lot.
- Finigenix Magnum
(Estra-4, 9-dien-3, 17-dione)
This is another steroid precursor, a dione to be specific. Diones only have moderately decent conversion, so this product will not possess the full activity of its active metabolite. The active metabolite in this case is the nandrolone derivative Estra-4,9-dien-17b-ol-3-one and according to Vida, it has an anabolic potency equal to methyltestosterone and an androgenic potency 0.1 times. It does not appear from my knowledge of steroid metabolism that this steroid aromatizes. However the potential for progestational activity is there, as it is with many 19-norandrogens. This stuff has been referred to as a trenbolone precursor, however this is inaccurate because trenbolone has an additional double bond in the structure and the body does not have the capacity to insert this double bond. Bottom line is that this is a weak hormone with so-so conversion that probably requires 50mg-100mg for physiological effects to be seen in most men. On the upside is the fact that it is not 17a-alkylated, so liver toxicity is not a serious issue.
Madol/DMT-Desoxymethyltestosterone (17a-methyl-17b-hydroxy-5a-androst-2-ene) or you may notice the clone products listed as (17a-methyl-etioallocholan-2-ene-17b-ol). Note the following nomenclature:
etioallocholan = 5a-androst = ‘a skeleton’ or ‘a isomer’
etiocholan = 5b-androst = ‘b skeleton’ or ‘b isomer’
17beta-hydroxy = 17b-ol
estra = 19-norandrost
Pheraplex was originally sold as a sports nutrition product in 2005 as ErgoMax LMG (Lean Mass Generator) which is now found in the form of clones like Kilo Sports’ Phera-Mass or Competitive Edge Labs’ P-Plex. Madol/DMT is an exceedingly potent synthetic oral steroid with a very high anabolic to androgenic rating (Anabolic 1,200 to Androgenic 187). Madol is mg for mg significantly more anabolic than methyltestosterone. It should be noted that manufacture of this product is not easy and impurities of the product (being both a 2-ene and 3-ene isomers in a 4:1 ratio on the DMT raw material tested by the UCLA Olympic Analytical Lab) are so common that the existence of pure DMT (Desoxymethyltestosterone), has not been independently confirmed. Typically dosed at 5-15 mg a day, the dosage should be 10-30 mg a day due to the product possibly being an impure mixture of DMT and its isomers. DMT is most ideally used during cutting phases but is potent enough to stack with other agents for bulking purposes.
Currently available from Competitive Edge Labs, and KiloSports
Nomenclature: 2a, 17a-dimethyl-5a-androstane-17b-ol-3-one
Methyldrostanolone/ Methasteron/c17-alpha version of Masteron (Drostanolone)
Potent oral anabolic that is 4 times as potent as methyltest and only 20% the androgenicity. Dosage is 10-30mg daily. A nickname for Superdrol is Super-Anadrol, in reference to its strength being close to the mildness of Anadrol. Expect a ten pound gain off this product alone, not 30 lbs. However, this stuff is potent and toxic. It used to be the best selling of the legal steroids of the post-2005 ban. It also used to be touted as being safe, with little HPTA shutdown or liver toxicity. We now know better. People have reportedly gotten sick from this stuff, some almost died. Many have had prolonged testosterone suppression for long times after taking it. Of course some have loved the stuff and experienced little in the way of negative side effects. Companies that originally sold it had to stop because they got letters from the FDA. It now pops up in some formulas, usually hidden under clone names. Superdrol has a Anabolic rating of 400 and Androgenic rating of 20 as compared to Methyltestosterone as a standard and is also non aromatizable. It is worth noting that although no clinical trials have been performed on this drug, many users have reported an incidence of a host of very strong side effects being associated with this supplement.
(17a-methyl-1,4-androstadiene-3,17 diol) -Pro hormone to Dianabol (17a-methyl-hydroxy-1,4-androstadien-3-one) or (1-Dehydro-17a-methyltestosterone)
This compound has recently been reintroduced by Competitive Edge Labs among others and is from the old school of prohormones – a classic wet bulker which converts into Dianabol. This pro hormone is a good choice for rapid mass and strength gains but the gains will tend to cause smoothness due to the aromatization, water retention, and in increase in body fat along with muscle. Having a lower level of relative androgenicity than testosterone, methandrostenolone is classified as an “anabolic” steroid, although quite a distinct androgenic side is still present. This drug (as the steroid-Dianabol) was designed as an oral medication although injectible veterinary solutions exist, has historically been the most commonly used oral steroid used for physique enhancing purposes. It is interesting to note that Dianabol is structurally identical to Boldenone, except that Dianabol is methylated-17a-methyl. The obvious differences between the characteristics of the two hormones makes clear the impact that methylation has on hormones. Dianabol has an androgenic range of 40-60 and a anabolic value range of 90-210 as compared to methyltestosterone. As a steroid, Dianabol (17a-methyl-hydroxy-1,4-androstadien-3-one) should be dosed at 15-30mg per day for a 6-8 week cycle; the prohormone dosage may or may not be identical.
This Dianabol precursor differs only in the presence of a hydroxyl group in the 3 position, where a ketone is supposed to be, however the conversion of the hydroxyl to the ketone in the body should be quite efficient. The possibility exists, however, for any remaining unconverted material to exert direct estrogenic effects, but I have not heard of any user reports concerning this that have raised any alarm. Dianabol, of course, is a decent anabolic compound with modest androgenic action and low toxicity for a 17a-methyl. Most people feel good on Dianabol unless the estrogen problems become an issue. Users would likely need a minimum of 25mg to start seeing gains.
- 1,4 AD Boldione
Innovator: Molecular Nutrition Dosages: 300-600mg
Boldione (1,4 Androstadiene-sterone or 1,4-Androstadiene-3,17-dione) is a pro hormone to the steroid, Boldenone (1,4-androstadiene-3-one, 17beta-ol). As compared to Testosterone as a standard, Boldenone has an androgenic rating of 50 and an anabolic rating of 100. A good non liver toxic prosteroid that works best when stacked with another steroid. Will produce slow, mild gains that are known to last. Boldenone is not a rapid mass builder and positive effects become most apparent when it is used for longer cycles around 8 weeks or more in duration. The muscle gained should be more defined and solid as opposed to a cycle of testosterone. With the pro hormone Boldione, expect a dramactic increase in appetite and some joint repartioning effects have even been common. Boldenone often replaces Decca in many users stacks due to similar low androgenic and joint repartioning properties. A down side to this pro hormone is that it must be dosed high (well over 600 mg a day), which tends to make this an expensive supplement to use.
Innovator: EST Nutrition
Nomenclures: 12-ethyl-3-methoxy-gona-diene &
6-17 dihydroxyetiocholone-3-ol proponate
It is usually dosed at 90mg a day.
Effects: noted to be good for reducing body fat and for promoting rapid strength and muscle gains.
Side effects: relatively mild with this compound
- Max LMG
Innovator: ALRI, Several Clones exist now such as Mass LMG and Super Tren-MG
Nomenclature: 13-ethyl-3methoxygona-2, 5(10)-dien-17-one
This is usually dosed at around 100mg a day.
Effects: rapid gains in bulk of a wet nature due to its progestogenic nature are possible. Great for those needing fast weight gain.
This product was brought to the market by Bioscience Technologies and is usually dosed at 6-12mg to see results. A clone of this particular product may not be available anymore.
Effects: not a strong bulking product unless doses are pushed high despite its androgenic profile. In this respect it is not dissimilar to AAS such as Masteron and Proviron which are not efficient for bulking.
Side effects: androgenic side effects such as hair loss are reported quite frequently and many users report a damaging effect on libido. This product or a clone of this product may not be on the market anymore.
- Furaguno/ Orastan-A
Nomenclature: 17-Methyl-5a androstano[2,3-c] furazan-17b-ol
In my opinion, this chemical looks a lot more impressive than the actions it has in the body are. It is a structural analog to the methylated steroid Furazabol. Furazabol is an androgen that used to be used in Japan to treat high cholesterol. It is best known as the steroid that Ben Johnson was supposed to be receiving from Dr. Astaphan back in 1988. Of course, the stuff Ben was putting in his ass was actually stanozolol (so the story goes), which led to his humiliating drug-positive days after whipping Carl Lewis’ ass in the 100 meters in Seoul.
Furazabol is in fact a lot like stanozolol (aka Winstrol) in that it shares an odd heterocyclic ring attached to the A ring of the steroid nucleus. Pharmacologically, the two are much alike as well— highly anabolic compounds which do not aromatize and give very nice dry gains. However, this analog does not seem to share anywhere near the potency of its methylated cousin. In fact doses as high as 100mg only give very slight gains, if any at all. The rationale behind the development of this stuff (and the stanozolol analog I am addressing next) is that unmethylated analogs of potent methylated compounds should also be potent. This simply is not the case and there are many cases in the literature where this fact has been demonstrated with steroid derivatives. Here is a analysis of Furaguno. [3,2-c]pyrazole-5a-androstan-17b-tetrahydropyranol ether is the stanozolol equivalent of the furazabol analog. And every crappy thing said about the former applies to this one. No need say more, hence they are listed together.
Innovator: Anabolic Xtreme / Ergopharm
11-Oxo was developed by Ergopharm, whose founder Patrick Arnold first brought prohormones to the bodybuilding market. 11-Oxo is noted for its ability to lower cortisol levels. It is dosed at between 300-600mg a day with 450mg typical.
Effects: used mainly as a recomposition agent and to promote fat loss.
Side effects: although it can cause the same side effects as other prohormones, it is considered very mild in this regard so a good choice for people looking to diet with minimal side effects.
Nomenclature: andrenosterone, 11-oxo-androstenedione, or 4-androstene-3,11,17-trione (all mean the same)
Intro of Prohormones
The following information has been paraphrased from the original article by Reggie Johal of PredatorNutrition.com:
Prohormones are compounds which, technically speaking, are converted via an enzymatic process to anabolic hormones in the body. As such they have similar effects in the body to anabolic steroids, causing rapid muscle and strength gains, but of a lesser magnitude due to the rate limiting effect caused by the enzyme conversion. However, this technical definition is considered somewhat out of date due to the advances which have occurred in supplement science since the introduction of the first prohormone androstenedione. Instead, nowadays the term prohormones commonly covers not just precursors to steroid hormones but also covers compounds active in their own right and which require no conversion to a different hormone to engender an anabolic effect, hence the term prosteroid.
Prohormones were introduced into the supplement market in 1996 by Patrick Arnold who brought the prohormone androstenedione to the market. Androstenedione certainly generated a lot of excitement in the athletic world and is heavily linked in the popular press with baseball players such as Mark McGwire whose use of the supplement first brought notoriety both to that sport and garnered the attention of lawmakers in the USA. Androstenedione was rapidly followed by a number of compounds – androstenediol, norandrostenediol, 1-4-androstadienedione and 5 alpha androstenediol to name a few. These all had different effects profiles, some being converted to testosterone in the body after their ingestion, while others were converted in the body to target hormones such as nandrolone, boldenone, and dihydrotestosterone (DHT).
Eventually, Arnold introduced the prohormone 1-ad, which converted into a hormone called 1-testosterone. This was the first prohormone considered to be of comparable effectiveness to illegal steroids such as Winstrol or Primobolan. At this time prohormones had advanced considerably since the introduction of androstenedione (widely considered within bodybuilding to be pretty worthless). Following the introduction of 1-ad, the prohormone market changed dramatically. Realising that the process of enzymatic conversion meant that prohormones were necessarily weaker than taking an equal amount of the target hormone they converted into, some supplement companies began to avoid the use of hormone precursors, and began introducing onto the market products such as 1-testosterone (the hormone which 1-ad would convert to) and, eventually, methyl-1-testosterone (M1T), which was a 17-alpha alkylated or methylated hormone. In layman’s terms this meant that it was highly resistant to breakdown in the liver, and was the most powerful product on the market, causing rapid strength and muscle gains even for long-time steroid users, as well as causing a host of deleterious side effects such as high blood pressure, and elevation of liver enzymes.
The End of the Beginning
Many in the supplement industry argued that the proliferation of powerful products such as M1T would eventually cause negative publicity to attach itself to the supplement industry. They were proven right and eventually the US congress passed into law the Anabolic Steroid Control Act of 2004 which effectively classed all the products then on the market as illegal drugs on a par with anabolic steroids. By early 2005 they had been removed from the market.
Prohormones and prosteroids exert their effects through multiple pathways but the ones that are most important to people are their actions via their effects on the body’s androgenic, estrogenic and progestogenic receptors. It is through these that their effects are largely mediated and their interaction with other pathways is of secondary importance. Most prohormones, like anabolic steroids, are androgen agonists meaning they work via their effect on the androgen receptor. A strong androgen receptor agonist will mean effects related to the male hormone testosterone will be particularly prominent – notably increased aggression, sex drive, increased risk of hair loss and acne. Linked to these is large increases in muscle strength, strong muscle gains of a dry nature, and a hardening effect on the muscles. Estrogenic and progestogenic effects tend to be similar – prohormones that convert to estrogen and progesterone can cause large increases in mass and strength but much of the mass is of a poor quality visually and such gains often disappear rapidly as they are associated with water retention more than anything else. Estrogenic side effects are feared by bodybuilders and include increased water weight, increased susceptibility to fat gain in the presence of high estrogen and worst of all, from a cosmetic standpoint, gynecomastia.
It should be stated that while there are some products which are almost exclusively androgenic in nature with little to no risk of estrogenic/progestogenic side effects, the reverse is not true, in that compounds with high affinity for estrogen and progesterone receptors will still have an impact on the androgen receptor. You will often hear of prohormones and prosteroids being called androgenic or oestrogenic or even both, but it should be stated this is often based on their primary method of action and that all will have an androgenic effect at some level. Apart from this, prohormones will differ in their impact on other variables. Typically strong androgens are useful for promoting strength gains via the central nervous system (CNS) stimulation, independent of their anabolic or muscle building effects. All OTS steroids will promote enhanced red blood cell production which is why users of prohormones and prosteroids typically experience great pumps and vascularity.
The British Journal of Pharmacology published a Review of the Pharmacology of Anabolic Steroids (2008) that is a very good explanation of the nature of the relationship between anabolic steriods and how they act in the body.
Paraphrasing and additions were referenced from the original article Prohormones – A Comprehensive Guide on Predatornutrition.com written by Reggie Johal, as well as MuscularDevelopment.com and Patrick Arnold.
Also referenced is the book Anabolics 2009, as cited below.
Llewellyn, William. Anabolics. 9th ed. Jupiter, FL: Molecular Nutrition, 2009.