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Prohormones 101: What They Are & How They Work (Update 2024)



I remember the first time I took prohormones. It was a cycle of 4-Androsterone and DHEA, and I was pumped.

My shipment arrived in the mail, and I was ecstatic. I was ready to make some gains! Things quickly took a turn for the worse, however.

After just a week on prohormones, I started having severe mood swings, rapid heart beat, and constant anxiety.

I quickly learned that prohormones are actually far worse than steroids, and have far more side effects. Here’s why.

What Are Prohormones?

what are prohormones

To understand prohormones, you must first understand steroids. Pretty much all steroids are testosterone-based compounds.

In other words, when you take a steroid, it immediately starts working in your body by binding to androgen receptors. This is what makes your muscles grow.

These androgen receptors are the key to muscle growth. All supplements that promise to help you build muscle work by binding to these androgen receptors, which signal your body to grow more muscle.

Now, when the FDA makes something illegal, they have to specify the exact chemical compound they’re making illegal.

This sounds simple, but it’s critical to understand. They can’t just say “steroids are illegal,” because that’s too vague.

They have to say, specifically, that “C26H40O3” is illegal, for example. This is the chemical formula for Testosterone Enanthate, a popular steroid.

So, once the FDA does this, supplement companies begin working around the clock to come up with a new chemical formula that isn’t illegal.

This is where prohormones come in. Every time the FDA makes a steroid or prohormone illegal, supplement companies just add another carbon or hydrogen atom to the compound, so it’s “technically” not the same thing.

This allows them to keep on selling their “legal steroids,” and to keep their profit margins high, while still avoiding conflict with the FDA.

However, the problem is that each time they add a new atom to a steroid molecule, it becomes harder and harder for your body to process, which means more and more side effects.

So, after about 20 years of this cat-and-mouse game between supplement companies and the FDA, most prohormones have dozens of unnecessary atoms attached to them, giving them a shit ton of side effects.

The Problem With Prohormones

best prohormones

Let’s take a popular prohormone, such as 4-Androsterone. Because this hormone isn’t naturally produced by the body, your body doesn’t quite know what to do with it.

So, your liver will break it down into a plethora of other hormones, such as testosterone, estrogen, and oestrogen to name a few. This poses several problems.

First of all, this is a lot of work on your liver. When you take something every single day that is hard for your liver to process, eventually, your liver can’t do its job of keeping toxins out of your body.

Second, many of these other hormones can cause viciously brutal side effects. When you take a steroid like testosterone, your body knows what it is—and exactly how to use it.

When you take a prohormone, however, your body doesn’t know what the hell to do with it, so it gets turned into a ton of different other hormones.

Of course, one of these hormones is testosterone, which is why prohormones do, in fact, cause muscle gain.

Many of these other hormones however, such as estrogen, can cause a ton of nasty side effects in men.

Prohormone Side Effects

prohormones side effects

Because prohormones aren’t natural, and are so difficult for your body to process, they come with a huge cost.

Yes, they do help you build muscle. When I was on my prohormone cycle, I did notice increased strength and faster recovery.

The price you pay however, is to fuck your liver up, and destroy your hormonal balance in the process.

Here are some common side effects of prohormones:

  • Acne
  • Mood Swings
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Liver Toxicity
  • Jaundice
  • …and more

While some people will point out that steroids can have these side effects as well, in my experience, the side effects are 10x worse with prohormones.

In my opinion, prohormones are absolutely not worth it. I’ve done both steroids and prohormones multiple times, so I’m speaking from experience here.

Prohormones vs. Steroids

prohormones vs steroids

I’ve done prohormones, I’ve done steroids, and I’ve done SARMs. Over the past decade, I’ve tried damn near every supplement known to man.

My experience with steroids was great. I did have some bad side effects, but once I learned how to manage them, they weren’t a big deal.

I experienced some oily skin and increased cholesterol, but that was about it. When I was on Dianabol and Testosterone Enanthate, I didn’t experience any mood swings or liver toxicity.

This was not the case with prohormones, however. Literally within just 48 hours of taking DHEA and 4-Androsterone, I started feeling like shit.

I couldn’t think clearly. I was so fatigued I could barely stand up. I started having suicidal thoughts, and feeling EXTREMELY depressed.

Again, I had none of these side effects on steroids, or on SARMs. I attribute this to the fact that prohormones are not only very liver toxic, but that they also ruin your body’s natural hormonal balance.

If you’re thinking of taking prohormones, I would seriously think twice. Most prohormones these days are cheap copycats of the prohormones that actually worked, way back in the day.

What to Take Instead

So, if prohormones suck, and aren’t worth the cost, what should you take instead? To put it bluntly, either steroids, or SARMs.

Even though steroids are illegal, they have far less side effects than prohormones. I would rather get on a 12-week cycle of steroids, than take prohormones for just one fucking week. That’s how bad they are.

The best option, however, is to take SARMs. Otherwise known as Selective Androgen Receptor Modulators, these supplements have been sweeping the market by storm.

Like I said before, I’ve tried steroids, prohormones, and SARMs, each of which more than once, and in my expert opinion, SARMs are the way to go.

I love SARMs for two main reasons:

  1. They’re Very Bio-Available
  2. They’re Selective in Nature

What this means is that your liver doesn’t have to work overtime to use SARMs, like it would with prohormones. This saves you a ton of side effects.

In addition to this, SARMs aren’t broken down into estrogen, like prohormones and steroids are.

This also helps you avoid a ton of side effects, like gynecomastia (bitch tits), terrible mood swings, and suicidal thoughts.

Furthermore, SARMs are selective in nature, meaning that they bind to the “good” androgen receptors, and avoid the “bad” ones.

In other words, they bind to your skeletal muscles, which are the muscles you want to grow, WITHOUT binding to your organ muscles, which is often the cause of many steroids side effects.

The Best SARMs to Take

Chemyo Banner Ad SARMs

As I’ve made very clear, SARMs are the best muscle-building supplement currently on the market in 2019.

This may change over the next few years, but as of now, SARMs are the way to go. They help users build muscle, lose fat, and increase strength, with little to no side effects, due to their selective nature.

Here are the best SARMs, in my opinion:

  1. RAD 140 (Testolone)
  2. Ostarine (MK-2866)
  3. Ligandrol (LGD-4033)

I’ve written extensively about each of these SARMs in the past, but I’ll give you a quick recap in this article, for time’s sake.

RAD 140 (Testolone)

RAD 140, otherwise known as Testolone, is the most powerful SARM currently on the market. Using this SARM, I gained 21 pounds of muscle and lost 12 pounds of fat, in just 60 days.

I also noticed a huge increase in strength when I was on RAD 140. It’s got an anabolic ratio of 90:1, meaning it’s 90% as effective as pure testosterone, and only has 1% of the side effects.

Ostarine (MK-2866)

Ostarine, otherwise known as MK-2866, is perhaps the most popular SARM currently on the market. It’s very well researched, and currently undergoing Phase II clinical trials by the FDA.

When on my Ostarine cycle, I gained 18 pounds of muscle and lost 7 pounds of fat, in just 90 days. This wasn’t as powerful as RAD 140, but boy was it a lot of fun.

Ligandrol (LGD-4033)

Ligandrol, sometimes known as LGD-4033, is another common SARM that’s typically used for building muscle and getting that “cut and dry” look.

While Ligandrol does sometimes cause an increase in cholesterol, most studies show it’s very well tolerated by users in doses under 20mg/day.

What to Expect on SARMs

rad 140 before and after

I wrote an in-depth article, talking about my SARMs before and after results, so I recommend you read that first.

With SARMs, users can typically expect to gain about 15-25 pounds of muscle in a short time span of 2-3 months.

While it does depend on the dosage, length of cycle, and your own personal biology, most users experience incredible benefits on SARMs, such as:

  • Increased Strength
  • More Muscle Mass
  • Easier to Burn Fat
  • …and more

So, if you’re looking for that extra edge in the gym, I would urge you to look into SARMs more. Prohormones just aren’t worth it, in my experience.

Prohormones: The Bottom Line

The bottom line is that while prohormones do help users build muscle and lose fat, the amount of side effects they have just isn’t worth it.

Because they’re so liver toxic and unnatural, prohormones can often cause depression, anxiety, liver toxicity, and other nasty side effects in people.

If you do want to take a muscle-building supplement, I urge you to take SARMs. They’re not only very safe, but also very effective.

I personally get my SARMs from Chemyo these days, and wrote a full review on them for your convenience. I highly recommend you check it out.

If you have any questions, comments, or concerns, feel free to let me know in the comments section down below—and as always, I’ll see you guys next time!

Frequently Asked Questions
❓ What Are Prohormones?

Prohormones are a form of oral steroids that are extremely liver toxic. Ironically enough, even though prohormones are legal, they're actually far more damaging and have far more side effects than illegal steroids do, because of their molecular complexity.

A molecule like testosterone enanthate is easily absorbed by the body, but it's illegal. So, what pharmaceutical companies do to get around this, is they add extra molecules onto the testosterone, so that it's "technically" a different chemical than testosterone.

The only problem with this, is that after 20 years of doing this, there's dozens of unnecessary molecules added onto the original testosterone molecule. So, your liver has to work 10x harder to process it, which is why prohormones are so liver toxic.

❓ Are Prohormones Like Steroids?

Many sites often compare prohormones to steroids, but these sites are usually trying to sell you something. The truth is that prohormones are far more damaging than illegal steroids, and typically have very many side effects.

Prohormones aren't as strong as steroids or SARMs either, so there really isn't a benefit to taking them. They have high side effects and very little potency at this point, so if you're going to run a cycle, it's best to do either steroids or SARMs.

❓ Are Prohormones Dangerous?

As someone who's taken steroids, SARMs, and prohormones, I can say with 100% certainty that steroids have less side effects than prohormones, even though steroids are illegal. The side effects many users experience on prohormones are unbelievable.

Many people get sent to the emergency room after taking prohormones, because they're so difficult for your liver to process. This leads to a buildup of metabolic waste, which can be a serious health concern for anyone hitting the gym.

❓ Do Prohormones Have Side Effects?

Yes, they do. In fact, many fitness experts have raised concerns over the fact that prohormones actually have more side effects than ILLEGAL steroids. Why are prohormones still legal, then, if they're more dangerous than steroids? Because there's so much money in them.

I recommend you read the full article to understand this better, but prohormones are basically a chemically watered down version of steroids. They're not only far less effective, but also have far more side effects, such as liver toxicity, acne, and severe mood swings.

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3 years ago

Dhea is the worst pro hormone, converts only 15% to testosterone, the rest will be estrogen.

The 4 andro on it’s own would have been far better, and is good to stack with other dry pro hormones

Not all pro hormones are liver toxic, 4 andro doesn’t contain a methyl group, so it is not liver toxic.

1 andro, 19 not dhea, etc…are not liver toxic either, but the original halodrol and superdrol are methyl, so they are liver toxic – however, tudca can be taken to minimize liver sides

At the end of the day, what you prefer and works best for you


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After dropping out of college to pursue my dreams, I started this blog as a way to help other men do the same.

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