The decanoate ester of nandrolone is generally referred to as Deca, stemming from the brand name Deca-Durabolin under which nandrolone was marketed by the Organon company. But as the reference list up above suggests there are many generic forms of this compound available. Nandrolone is perhaps the best marketed and easy to get steroid out there and it has always enjoyed an immense popularity. Its fairly accurate to state that safe for Dianabol, Deca is by far the most used steroid. The deca/d-bol stack, it is often suggested, is where the practice of stacking comes from. But what does it owe its popularity too ? Well, nandrolone has some unique qualities that make it unlike any other steroid known to man.
Nandrolone is more commonly known as the base steroid 19Nor-testosterone. As this structure would indicate its like testosterone in appearance but for one small change : the absence of a carbon atom in the 19th position. This gives it a number of very distinct features. First of all it makes nandrolone a notably weaker agonist of the androgen receptor. That alone causes quite a reduction in the risk of androgenic side-effects. This is because it is the only steroid that is affected by the 5-alpha-reductase (5AR) enzyme in a way that makes it even less androgenic. Unlike testosterone which forms DHT (dihydrotestosterone) at the 5AR enzyme, a hormone 3-4 times as potent as an androgen receptor stimulator, nandrolone forms DHN (dihydronandrolone) a hormone that is even less suited than the already mild parent hormone for agonizing the androgen receptor. Those two features combined make nandrolone a very safe bet for people at risk for prostate hypertrophy, acne and aggravated male pattern hair loss. At the same time its estimated that nandrolone is 2.4 times as anabolic as testosterone1, on a gram for gram basis.
Due to the many different ways that testosterone mediates anabolism, one has to take that statement with a serious grain of salt, but it does establish nandrolone as a potent muscle builder and performance enhancer with a comparatively safe character, at least androgenically speaking. This androgenic mildness is perhaps the greatest reason for its popularity. But due to the lack of immediate anabolic activity nandrolone is rarely used alone. Its the most known and sought after product for use as a base steroid, to use in conjunction with a more androgenic specimen to enhance the results without increasing androgenic side-effects to a serious degree.
The ways in which nandrolone exerts its anabolic effects are two-fold. First of all it's a good mediator for nitrogen retention. When nitrogen retention is high, in essence it means that the cells are taking up more nitrogen than they are releasing. Why is this a good thing though? Well every amino acid has what is known as an amino-group, which contains nitrogen. When nitrogen is retained it means there is a high concentration of amino acids in a cell, which in turn positively affects the rate of protein synthesis. Since every tissue in the body is made from protein, including muscle, this means that muscle hypertrophy is facilitated. A second factor is through estrogen. While nandrolone's rate of aromatization is considerably smaller than that of testosterone, it does convert to a particularly powerful form of estrogenВ№. This has been noted to increase glycogen storage, growth hormone release and upgrade the androgen receptor in some tissues. In this case it also entails agonizing of aldosterone, but more on that later.
On an interesting note, the 5-alpha-reduced versions enlighten us as to the anabolic effect of nandrolone as opposed to that of testosterone. Since nandrolone is weakened at the 5AR enzyme and testosterone becomes notably stronger at the 5AR enzyme it makes sense that testosterone would be a better anabolic mediator in tissues with a high concentration of this enzyme, and that nandrolone would be the stronger of the two in tissues with a lower count of 5AR enzyme1b. Because 5AR is not as well represented in muscle tissue it accounts for the finding that nandrolone is 2.4 times more anabolic when it comes directly to muscular hypertrophy. It also explains why its less of a risk for androgenic side-effects such as benign prostate hypertrophy (BPH) and androgenetic alopecia (MPB). Both the prostate and the scalp namely have high concentrations of the 5AR enzyme.
If indeed the overall yield of estrogen is so much smaller, and so is the rate of androgen receptor stimulation, how then is nandrolone so anabolic? The common belief is through a third receptor : the progesterone receptor. It has been concluded that both nandrolone2 and several of its metabolites3,4 do indeed activate the progesterone receptor and are altered by it. On the one hand progestagenic activity decreases the estrogen receptor concentration in some tissues, it also mediates estrogenic action in other tissues5. So while estrogenic side-effects are fairly uncommon with nandrolone use alone, they can indeed occur and the implications of nandrolone's activity as a progesterone indicate these potential side-effects aren't to be solved with an aromatase inhibitor alone (like Cytadren). As long as there is estrogen in the system (indicating a possible increase of the problem when stacked with another aromatizing compound) progesterone can agonize its effects. And since progesterone receptors are found in breast tissue and have been linked to the formation of milk ducts, progestagenic activity may aggravate possibly gynocomastia. So while such problems are rare, when they occur they aren't easily treated.
It makes sense then that those particularly prone to the effects and side-effects of estrogen would take extra precaution. Blocking aromatase, considering the previous paragraph, would be a poor choice, but competitively inhibiting the estrogen receptor itself with clomiphene citrate (Clomid) or tamoxifen citrate (Nolvadex) might bring some relief since a large portion of progestagenic action is nullified if there is no circulating estrogen around, or if it is kept from being activated by the estrogen receptor. It is generally assumed that 1 mg of either every day for every 20 mg of nandrolone injected weekly is sufficient. Slightly higher doses, or the use of an aromatase inhibitor like cytadren can be stacked if nandrolone is used in conjunction with another aromatizing steroid. It has also been noted that the steroid stanozolol (Winstrol) may provide relief as it too binds to the progesterone receptor but remains unaltered by it. How strong of a competitor it is in such a case and what sort of doses would be needed are as much your guess as they are mine, so this may be non-issue. But it does bode well for the stacking of nandrolone with stanozolol in that you have nothing to lose and everything to gain.
Another benefit of nandrolone use often reported is the pain-free workouts because nandrolone lubricates the joints. It stores a lot of water (as synovial fluid) in the joints, which eases the impact of the heavy weights handled by bodybuilders and weight lifters. One may wonder how nandrolone can do a better job at it than a steroid that aromatizes much stronger such as a testosterone ester, but its quite easily explained. One study at least goes to show that nandrolone metabolites are also aldosterone agonists6. Although we aren't entirely sure of the mechanism by which this occurs. But, while sparing you the details of this complex hormone, aldosterone has a strong function in the retention of sodium in the body. High sodium levels correlate with a high storage of water and that would explain the aforementioned effect. Of course one needs to note the implication of this of course: a bulkier frame and a certain loss of definition are not uncommon with nandrolone, perhaps more so than with testosterone.
One last note that is of critical relevance to drug tested athletes is the interaction between nandrolone and esterase. Injectable, non 17-alpha-alkylated hormones are often esterified. This means attaching an ester to a specific position on the steroid causing it to be more lipophyllic. That means it stores well in body-fat and is only slowly released into the bloodstream, giving the whole a time-released character. The more carbons an ester has the longer it will last. For the drug to become active it needs to remove its ester. When released into the bloodstream simply the suspension in H2O will solve that. But in the body-fat the ester can also be removed by the enzyme esterase. But esterase works two ways, meaning in some cases it can also attach an ester. Nandrolone is such a case.
Nandrolone with a decanoate ester is fairly long acting (10 carbons) to begin with and if on top of that a lot of the drug can be de- and re-esterified that means the substance stays active in the body for quite a long time. This has resulted in positive drug tests for the hormone nandrolone and many of its metabolites, most notably 19-Norandrosterone up to 18 months after last use of the drug. While this is a fairly known fact, the recent number of athletes (including well known soccer stars) that have tested positive for nandrolone would indicate a lot of misinformation or plain lack of information in some circles. Positive tests, with reprimands, that could have easily been avoided. So anyone subject to any form of athletic drug test should refrain from using 19-Nortestosterone (nandrolone) or any of its metabolites, that includes nor-prohormones.
For those of you looking to use nandrolone as your only steroid, be aware that the gains on nandrolone are not only mild, but also quite hard to maintain. Nandrolone, in the first place due to its combined estrogenic/progestagenic properties, is quite suppressive of the natural testosterone production. Since it actively participates at three receptors its very quick and merciless when it comes to giving negative feedback to the release of gonadotropin releasing hormone from the hypothalamus. But then one also has to take into account its affinity for esterases, making it stay active in the body significantly longer than most hormones. Because that means upon cessation of nandrolone-use you'll still be under quite suppressive conditions, there simply isn't enough intrinsic anabolism available to support the mass you gained, resulting in a rather quick and inglorious reduction of weight.
Personally, for all intents and purposes I prefer boldenone (equipoise) over nandrolone. Its also a relatively mild androgen that has no conversion at the 5AR enzyme, so its not that much more of an androgenic risk, but in all other aspects it's a much safer steroid. Doesn't have strong estrogenic effects, nor progestagenic activity. That means it doesn't cause bloat or fat gain and is much less likely to cause gyno. On the contrary, the gains from boldenone are much leaner. Its also stronger, mg for mg. It doesn't readily re-esterify and due to its lower estrogenic effects, it is not nearly as suppressive of natural testosterone either. That makes the gains not only better, qualitatively speaking, but also much easier to maintain. Also as far as purchase is concerned. Boldenone is becoming cheaper and is very widely available. The availability of Deca is dropping, but its still the most counterfeited steroid in the world. That makes it more likely that an inexperienced buyer will get scammed looking for nandrolone decanoate, than looking for boldenone undecylenate.
Nandrolone stacks well with virtually anything. Due to its mildly aromatizing and its progestagenic activity its mostly used as a mass building compound by all but the monstrously huge. Because some water retention is a fact, one would not desire to include it in a cutting phase, especially if its one of your first cycles. Nandrolone is used in doses of 200-600 mg per week. 400 mg is the common recommendation for a somewhat experienced user, when used in conjunction with another product. Nandrolone as decanoate, as found in deca-durabolin, is a long acting ester of 10 carbons. That means 1 injection weekly will more than suffice as it has quite a long span of activity
To this effect its preferably stacked with another aromatizing compound. In the first place a long acting testosterone like cypionate, enanthate or sustanon 250. For a beginner cycle, we want to note that the testosterone compound is the most active compound and its therefore more desirable to lower the dose of nandrolone rather than the dose of testosterone. Often beginners look to start at 400 mg of nandrolone and 250 mg of testosterone. A better suggestion would be 200 mg of nandrolone and 500 mg of testosterone. Then bump the nandrolone to 400 mg.
It also makes a good match for doses of Anadrol or Dianabol, although neither compound can be used for the time-span of nandrolone decanoate due to liver toxicity. This isn't the case for a long-acting testosterone ester. Often nandrolone and test are stacked in conjunction with Anadrol or Dianabol for the first few weeks of a stack to boost gains and strength.
A nandrolone stack accompanied by stanazolol (Winstrol/Stromba) makes sense as well, especially for those who are highly prone to gyno. It's commonly accepted that stanazolol can compete for the progesterone receptor, and since nandrolone can act as a progestin, this is a wise precaution. Progesterone agonizes estrogen and while nandrolone only aromatizes slightly and cases of gyno with moderate nandrolone use is rare, when stacking it with another aromatizable compound like Dianabol or testosterone, you may not want to take the chance.
For secondary products one needn't consider an anti-aromatase like Cytadren since one cannot fully block all aromatase conversion and due to the enhanced estrogen activity as a result of progestagenic influence, it would serve little purpose. Using an estrogen-receptor antagonist, while not fool-proof obviously, may serve some benefit. Agonized or not, without binding to the receptor estrogen loses most of its influence. Using stanazolol and either clomid or Nolvadex during a stack with nandrolone is usually the best prescription. Post-cycle use of such substances to help HPTA recover faster and retain gains also comes highly recommended, and preferably for longer than you would with most stacks, since nandrolone stays active for a very long time.