The answer to this question is: you don’t necessarily need to use bulking steroids to bulk for the reasons previously described. However, there lies plenty of convenience in utilizing bulking steroids that are traditionally very strong compounds, easy to acquire, and relatively inexpensive. Other reasons lie in perhaps the most important and most influential factor: the issue of the more dynamic aspects of the biochemistry rather than the core theory of hormonal action of how they work. What this specifically refers to is the issue of aromatization (the conversion of androgens into Estrogen), and all of the effects that come along with it, such as: water retention, possible fat gain/retention, and the addition of weight in the form of mass that is not muscle (mostly water). Such factors, which exist in almost all bulking steroids can actually be advantageous to an individual looking to bulk up and gain sheer mass and strength without much concern for body fat levels (within reason), or the less aesthetically pleasing effect of increased bloating and water retention.
The effects previously described stem from the result of aromatization, which is the process whereby some anabolic steroids will convert into Estrogen. The aromatization of androgens into Estrogen occurs with various anabolic steroids and not with others. The compounds that undergo moderate to high rates of aromatization tend to be traditionally used as bulking steroids, while those that are immune to aromatization will typically be utilized for other purposes (typically cutting, fat loss, and pre-contest). The aromatization associated with bulking steroids typically result in estrogenic effects such as water retention and non-muscle weight gain. The additional water weight retained by these bulking steroids can be beneficial for strength athletes, weight lifters, and bodybuilders when in bulking phases (or any athletes looking to make a particular weight class), but might be disadvantageous for speed athletes such as sprinters, due to the unnecessary weight gain that might slow them down.
Suffice to say, bodybuilders, strength athletes, and anyone typically looking to ‘bulk up’ represent the core users of bulking steroids. The additional water retention brought upon by the typical bulking steroids can be considered beneficial for many, as it can not only add to the amount of size and weight gained, but can also assist in providing a much fuller look to the muscles, aid in better contractions, and serve as a form of protection as the additional water is retained in and around connective tissue (tendons, joints, ligaments). Such a benefit is of importance to the big and strong heavy lifts that are typically engaged in during a bulk, though it should be noted that bulking steroids will generally provide rapid mass and strength gains that could possibly place excessive strain and stress on connective tissues. Users looking to utilize bulking steroidsshould heed this warning carefully, as a beginner anabolic steroid user engaging in a cycle that includes bulking steroids can possibly gain upwards of 20 – 30 pounds of mass within a matter of weeks, although a large portion of such gains would likely be water weight.
When Bulking Steroids Might Not Be Suitable
Aesthetically, the water gain from the use of bulking steroids might be a problem for those looking to maintain a ‘ripped’ lean physique, as the additional water retention will lend to the physique a soft and puffy look that will blur the definition of the muscles due to peripheral water retention. Hence, this is why competitive bodybuilders tend to utilize bulking steroids during the off-season training, when there is no requirement to achieve peak definition and body fat levels for a stage performance. Additionally, bulking steroids might not be preferable for those who wish to achieve smaller gains, or for those who wish to achieve strictly lean mass gains with minimal to no water or fat retention. Due to the estrogenic nature of bulking steroids, an element of lipogenesis (fat storage) or fat retention might be present. However, for those who wish to eliminate or reduce the incidence of water retention or fat retention/gain, the use of an aromatase inhibitor (such as Aromasin or Arimidex) during the cycle would be optimal. In such a situation, the aromatase inhibitor would inhibit the aromatase enzyme and prevent the anabolic steroid(s) from being aromatized into Estrogen, thereby eliminating water retention and other estrogenic side effects at the root cause. Note that the use of an aromatase inhibitor will do nothing for anabolic steroids that do not aromatize into Estrogen but are estrogenic in and of themselves, such as Anadrol (Oxymetholone).
The following is a list of the typically used and commonly considered bulking steroids (note that not all but most of the following are moderate to highly Estrogenic),
Andriol (Testosterone Undecanoate)
Deca-Durabolin (Nandrolone Decanoate)
Equipoise (Boldenone Undecylenate)
Sustanon 250 (Testosterone blend)
Trenbolone Hexahydrobenzylcarbonate (Parabolan)