If you’ve been lurking around bodybuilding forums over the past few years, you’ve no doubt seen the emergence of a new form of chemical enhancement. SARMs, otherwise known as selective androgen receptor modulators, are quickly becoming one of the most popular alternatives to steroids.
…but still, many questions remain. What are SARMs? What kind of results do they give you? Are SARMs legal? What’s a SARMs stack? And perhaps most importantly, what are the potential side effects of taking SARMs? The average lifter knows almost nothing about these compounds.
When taken wisely, SARMs like ligandrol, cardarine, and ostarine can have incredible benefits. You will gain incredible strength, put on tons of muscle, and even keep most of it afterwards. The best part though, is that SARMs have almost none of the side effects that steroids tend to have.
With this in mind, I’ve compiled a definitive, ultimate guide on selective androgen receptor modulators (SARMs). My goal is to cover everything you need to know about SARMs, so that by the end of this post, you’ll be rushing to buy some and put on some of that sweet, sweet muscle mass.
SARMs, or selective androgen receptor modulators, have been around for a lot longer than most people realize. The first wave of SARMs was introduced in the 1940’s by pharmaceutical companies, and was marketed as a way to help treat cancer, osteoporosis, and other diseases. These were known as “steroidal SARMs.”
It wasn’t long before researchers discovered that these “steroidal SARMs” had a lot of side effects. Patients would often see huge gains in muscle, of up to 30 pounds within a matter of months. Needless to say, doctors very quickly realized that there were a number of negative side effects as well.
Steroids, and steroidal SARMs, often cause side effects such as gynecomastia, low libido, damaged to the liver, and heart disease. It was clear that doctors couldn’t continue prescribing these steroidal SARMs in their current form, so they were put on the shelf. Not much would be spoken of steroidal SARMs for decades.
Fast forward some 50 years however, and researchers in the 1990’s began to create “non-steroidal SARMs,” which are what we now simply call “SARMs.” Due to the protein-based chemical structure of these wonder drugs, they’re able to give us many of the benefits of steroids, with almost no side effects.
Anabolic steroids, or as they’re more commonly called, “steroids,” are a class of testosterone and nor-testosterone derivatives which stimulate muscle growth in humans. They were first developed in the 1930’s by German scientists trying to gain an edge in the Olympics, but weren’t widely used by bodybuilders until the mid to late 1950’s.
Just like there’s a large number of different steroids, there’s also a large number of different SARMs. They all have fairly similar effects, but what’s different is the mechanism of action—and this is what makes all the difference. While most steroids bind to any and all androgen receptors, SARMs only bind to some.
While this may seem like a very small difference, it’s an absolute game changer for athletes trying to avoid negative side effects. Due to steroids binding to any and all androgen receptors, they often cause a whole host of problems that SARMs don’t.
When you take a steroid like testosterone enanthate, it’s going to bind to ALL of your androgen receptors—the ones in your heart muscles, the ones in your blood vessels, and the other ones found throughout your body. This is what causes so many negative side effects when you take steroids.
SARMs on the other hand, SELECTIVELY choose which androgen receptors to bind to. In addition to this, some of them don’t even bind to androgen receptors. Some SARMs simply modulate them, which allows users to gain certain positive effects (increased strength, muscle, etc.) and avoid certain negative effects (heart problems, liver problems, etc).
After the steroid craze began to hit the mainstream media, another form of muscle-building supplement was introduced: pro-hormones. While they’re often marketed as being different than steroids, they’re hardly different at all. In fact, they’re only a hop, skip, and a jump away from being a regular old steroid.
See, here’s what happened. Back in 1990 after steroids were made illegal, pharmaceutical companies searched far and wide for an alternative that could make them just as much money. So after a bit of research, some trial and error, and a hell of a lot of marketing, pro-hormones were born.
The funny thing is, they’re not very different from steroids. See when a steroid is made illegal, the law only specifies a certain type of chemical. So for example, when the US government made testosterone illegal to sell, they specified the Androst-4-en-17β-ol-3-one molecule.
So to get around this, pharmaceutical industries tweaked the molecule by adding a single atom here and there. One popular pro-hormone, which was sold under different names, has the following chemical formula: androst-4-en-3,17-dione. Not so different from testosterone, is it?
You just take a pill, your liver converts it into a hormone like testosterone, and voila! You’ve got yourself a steroid. The problem is these pro-hormones are often even MORE toxic than steroids, because of how much work your liver has to go through when processing them.
SARMs on the other hand have all the benefits with none of the toxicity. They’re extremely bio-available, which means your liver doesn’t have to damn near explode from processing them, and much to the gratitude of bodybuilders, they’re still widely available today.
If you’re just reading this article, chances are you don’t really know what SARMs are. Maybe you’ve been doing a little bit of research, glancing through bodybuilding forums here and there, but need a definitive guide on SARMs to decide if you want to use them or not.
To put it bluntly, SARMs are used for just one fucking reason: to get big without any side effects. Thanks to advances in modern science, you can take a handful of SARMs and put on 30 pounds of rock-solid muscle within a matter of three months…and you can do it all with almost zero side effects.
SARMs are taken, because they provide many of the benefits that steroids do, with minimal side effects. Here are some of the benefits of taking SARMs, all backed by scientific research cited below:
In a nutshell, SARMs are how you can have your cake and eat it too. Not only will you be putting on a ton of muscle, gain crazy amounts of strength, recover faster than ever before, and have stronger, denser bones, but you’ll do all of this with almost none of the side effects of taking steroids. That’s a pretty sweet deal, no?
“Wait a minute, hold on Jon…so you’re telling me that I can take SARMs and get just as many benefits as taking steroids? Without ANY of the side effects?!?! That sounds crazy.” Believe me, I thought it was crazy too—until I saw the science. Take a look at the sources cited below, and you’ll be blown away like I was.
One doesn’t have to look that far to find people left and right, all proclaiming the glories of SARMs. While they aren’t as effective as steroids in terms of sheer muscle mass gain, they certainly pack one hell of a punch. It’s not uncommon to hear users packing on 15-20 pounds within just a few months.
In fact, one study conducted by researchers at the Boston University School of Medicine, found that SARMs present an unprecedented opportunity to improve physical function, bone health, and strength gains, without causing any of the negative side effects steroids are known for:
“The last decade has witnessed unprecedented discovery effort to develop selective androgen receptor modulators (SARMs) that improve physical function and bone health without adversely affecting the prostate and cardiovascular outcomes. SARMs hold promise as a new class of function promoting anabolic therapies for a number of clinical indications, including functional limitations associated with aging and chronic disease, frailty, cancer cachexia, and osteoporosis.“
While some users report as much as 30 pounds of muscle gained in a few months while on SARMs, the average amount of muscle gained is typically around 15 pounds, while strength frequently shoots through the roof. When taken into consideration that those using SARMs are typically accomplished lifters, these gains are staggering. Newbies to lifting can expect even more.
In fact, SARMs are so effective that the International Olympic Committee (IOC) added SARMs to its list of prohibited anabolic substances. SARMs have also been banned by professional sporting organizations like the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) and the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA).
Yes, that’s right—SARMs have literally been banned from the Olympics as well as other professional sports, because they give athletes such an unfair advantage. Do you really need anymore proof? If pro-athletes can be disqualified for taking them, common sense tells us that they must be pretty damn effective.
Not only do SARMs help build muscle faster than ever before, but they can even help to fight cancer. Why is this not common knowledge? Why aren’t doctors prescribing SARMs to help cancer patients put on muscle, and stop losing so much weight? That’s a good question.
In a study conducted by a privately owned pharmaceutical company, SARMs were shown to help cancer patients stop muscle wasting:
“Muscle wasting, including a loss of skeletal muscle, is a cancer-related symptom that begins early in the progression of cancer and affects a patient’s quality of life, ability to tolerate chemotherapy, and survival. SARMs increase muscle mass and improve physical function in healthy and diseased individuals, and potentially may provide a new therapy for muscle wasting and cancer cachexia. SARMs modulate the same anabolic pathways targeted with classical steroidal androgens, but within the dose range in which expected effects on muscle mass and function are seen androgenic side-effects on prostate, skin, and hair have not been observed. Unlike testosterone, SARMs are orally active, nonaromatizable, nonvirilizing, and tissue-selective anabolic agents.”
When you think about it, it’s really no surprise that SARMs help fight cancer. Remember that they were originally introduced into the market to prevent muscle-wasting diseases, and seeing that cancer is one of the most common muscle-wasting diseases, it seems pretty obvious that SARMs would help.
One of the many problems which athletes face is that of bone density. Decreased bone density can, and often does, lead to a number of problems from fractures to broken bones. Thankfully, SARMs have been found to decrease endocorticol and trabecular bone turnover. In other words, they create denser bones.
Researchers in Japan found that when given SARMs for 4 weeks, their lab rats exhibited markedly increased bone density:
“A novel nonsteroidal androgen receptor (AR) binder, S-40503, was successfully generated in order to develop selective androgen receptor modulators (SARMs). We evaluated the binding specificity for nuclear receptors (NRs) and osteoanabolic activities of S-40503 in comparison with a natural nonaromatizable steroid, 5alpha-dihydrotestosterone (DHT). The compound preferentially bound to AR with nanomolar affinity among NRs. When S-40503 was administrated into orchiectomized (ORX) rats for 4 weeks, bone mineral density (BMD) of femur and muscle weight of levator ani were increased.”
These are just some of the many benefits of SARMs that have been researched. Due to the classification of SARMs as a research chemical, gaining large study groups is particularly difficult. Rest assured however, that SARMs contain a vast number of benefits, which can all help you live as a healthier, happier, and more muscular individual.
Now that you understand why SARMs are far superior to steroids, let’s take a look at some of the more popular ones. After reading this, you should have a better understanding of which SARMs stack together, the differences between common SARMs, and which ones to try first.
|Goal||Dosage||SARMs to Stack|
|Bulking||25mg/day for 8 Weeks||N/A|
|Cutting||15-20mg/day for 6-8 Weeks||Andarine & Cardarine|
|Recomposition||20-25mg/day for 6-8 Weeks||Andarine|
Ostarine, one of the more popular selective androgen receptor modulators, was first developed by GTx, Inc. to treat osteoporosis and muscle-wasting diseases. It wasn’t long however, before bodybuilders caught onto its effectiveness, and started using it to bulk up in record time.
In fact, a 12-week double blind, placebo-controlled phase II clinical trial conducted on 120 healthy individuals found that ostarine significantly increased lean body mass, improved physical function, and even served to improve insulin sensitivity. These are all great benefits for those of us looking to bulk up.
Lifters typically take ostarine during bulking phases and recomposition phases. During bulking phases, many report gains of 10+ pounds within just 8 weeks, in addition to less fat, and slight increases in strength. The real magic however, comes when you stack ostarine with other compounds. This SARM can be stacked with many other SARMs, most notably cardarine and andarine.
|Goal||Dosage||SARMs to Stack|
|Cutting||20mg/day for 8 Weeks||Ostarine & Cardarine|
|Recomposition||10mg/day for 8 Weeks||Ostarine & Cardarine|
While cardarine isn’t actually a SARM, it’s often thrown in with SARMs due to its incredible ability to enhance athletic performance. Cardarine technically binds to peroxisome proliferator-activated receptors rather than androgen receptors, but in my opinion it’s just as good if not better.
One study conducted by researchers found that cardarine literally “reprograms muscle fiber types to enhance running endurance.” In giving moderate doses to lab rats, they found that not only did cardarine massively increase their endurance ability, but it also helped oxidize fat much faster than before.
Likewise, cardarine is primarily used to improve endurance and lose weight. In fact, many users report being able to “run for days” when taking cardarine, while many more use it to run marathons. Another common use of cardarine is to shred fat. Many users report a “cut and dry” look and use this SARM to prepare for competitions.
|Goal||Dosage||SARMs to Stack|
|Bulking||5-10mg/day for 8 Weeks||Ostarine|
|Cutting||5-10mg/day for 8 Weeks||Cardarine|
|Recomposition||5mg/day for 8 Weeks||Ostarine & Cardarine|
First discovered by Ligand Pharmaceuticals in 2005, this SARM quickly rose to prominence in the bodybuilding community. It’s known primarily for its ability to help users shred off fat and achieve that “cut and dry” look that lifters are always trying to get in time for beach season.
One study conducted by multiple prestigious universities in the United States, found that LGD-4033 (ligandrol) was very “well tolerated” among subjects. They also found that lean body mass increased, fat mass decreased, and users even reported an increased “sense of well being.”
It’s not uncommon for users to take ligandrol and report “rapid fat loss.” The real magic of ligandrol, in my opinion, is when you stack it with cardarine, however. The two make up an extremely powerful fat burning complex, which will help shred off weight and give you that clean, cut, hard, and dry look that bodybuilders have.
|Goal||Dosage||SARMs to Stack|
|Bulking||50-100mg/day for 8 Weeks||Ostarine, Cardarine|
|Cutting||50mg/day for 6-8 Weeks||Ligandrol|
|Recomposition||50mg/day for 4-8 Weeks||Ostarine, Ligandrol|
Andarine is another very powerful SARM developed by GTx, Inc. due to its wide range of benefits. Not only does it increase strength, build muscle, and help lose fat, but it also increases bone density. Its most impressive feat however, is allowing users to reduce their water retention, leading to the “cut and dry” look that so many crave.
When dosed at over 50mg a day however, andarine does have some minor side effects. The first is minor suppression of the HPG axis, or in other words, minor suppression of testosterone production. This is nothing that can’t be fixed with a proper PCT (which I will detail later in this article).
The second, and more serious side effect, is occasional night time blindness. Some users report a yellowish tint in vision when taking over 50mg of andarine, so it’s recommended that you proceed with caution. Many users run a 5 days on/2 days off split when on cycle, to minimize vision side effects.
|Goal||Dosage||SARMs to Stack|
|Bulking||15-30mg/day for 8 Weeks||MK-677|
|Recomposition||15mg/day for 8 Weeks||Ligandrol|
Simply put, testolone is one of the most powerful SARMs on the market. It also has the highest ratio of anabolic to androgenic activity of any SARM, coming in at 90:1. This means that not only will it give you as much of a punch as steroids, but it has virtually zero negative side effects.
To put this in perspective, testosterone, one of the most common steroids, has an anabolic to androgenic ratio of 100:100. This means that for every muscle-building, testosterone-boosting receptor it binds to, it will also bind to an androgen receptor (responsible for estrogen increase and negative side effects).
Testolone however, will do none of this—it’s purely anabolic. In fact, one study conducted by researchers at Cambridge University describes this SARM as being a “potent, orally bio-available, non-steroidal selective androgen receptor modulator,” and then went on to compare it to steroids. All in all, this is powerful stuff with virtually no side effects.
|Goal||Dosage||SARMs to Stack|
|Bulking||25mg/day for 8 Weeks||Testolone|
|Recomposition||12.5mg/day for 8 Weeks||Ligandrol|
Technically, nutrabol isn’t actually a SARM—it’s a growth hormone secretagogue. In other words, it’s a chemical that encourages your pituitary gland to secrete growth hormone. That being said, it’s often sold alongside SARMs and it stacks wonderfully with many SARMs when you’re trying to bulk.
You’ve probably heard of growth hormone before, often referred to as “HGH” for human growth hormone. It’s a precious hormone that’s mostly secreted when you sleep, and it has a whole host of beneficial effects on your body. It improves muscle growth, bone growth, blood sugar levels, and even metabolism. As you age, growth hormone decreases, though.
According to a study published in 2001, “short term administration of [MK-677] can increase GH, IGF-1, and IGFBP-3 levels.” In other words, it’s a bulker’s best friend, as it secretes not one, but THREE hormones known to aid in putting on muscle mass, and getting big. Another study found it increased GH by 82% compared to placebo.
While many users tout the benefits of SARMs, one thing to consider is are there any side effects? Fortunately, SARMs have virtually zero side effects when used within the recommended ranges. Some users have reported minor suppression of the HPG axis, but this can easily be fixed with a proper PCT.
Anabolic steroids have a huge number of side effects ranging from heart disease to gynecomastia (bitch tits), but thankfully SARMs don’t share any of these. Because they’re not technically hormones, they don’t have the same negative side effects on your body as steroids do—but they still pack a walloping punch.
When taking SARMs, you will experience a huge surge in strength, rapid muscle growth, and incredible fat loss. Some users report very minor side effects such a slight increase in cholesterol and maybe some eye pain, but that’s about it. When used responsibly, SARMs have virtually zero side effects.
In fact, many studies have even concluded this as well, which is why numerous SARMs are on their way towards being FDA-approved. The only thing I suggest is to avoid taking SARMs if you’re under the age of 18. If you are a child, your body is still developing and doctors recommend you stay safe above all.
Even though 99.9% of people who take SARMs within normal ranges don’t experience side effects, there’s a small chance that your HPG axis will be suppressed. This is why a good old post-therapy cycle (or PCT) is necessary, in order to get your body back to where it was before you got on SARMs.
Nothing major is needed here. In fact, just a few natural herbs to boost your testosterone levels a bit will do fine. I personally recommend Red PCT, because it’s got an all star lineup of ingredients that have been shown to be highly effective in boosting testosterone for PCT:
These three ingredients will work synergistically to detoxify your liver, shoot your testosterone levels up, and minimize estrogen. I recommend you do a SARMs cycle of 8 weeks to begin with, and then buying a bottle of Red PCT to take afterwards. This will help you avoid any potential lingering drops in testosterone.
I remember the first time I took steroids. I had no idea what the hell I was doing, and had to watch some video of a shady doctor on YouTube to learn how to inject properly. So I filled up my syringe, stuck it in my ass, and pushed. Holy shit I kid you not, it hurt worse than anything I’ve ever felt before.
My left glute was literally sore for the next 4-5 days, but with time I learned how to inject properly. It took a solid month before I was able to inject steroids without any of the pain, but thankfully you won’t have to do any of this with SARMs, since they’re all taken orally.
SARMs come in a convenient little dropper bottle, so all you do is squeeze to get a full dropper (or whatever dose you’re taking) and then put it into your mouth. Wash it down with a little bit of water just to get it all down there, and then you’re done. That’s it—no injecting, no painful needles, just a quick drop of liquid down the chute.
As with anything on the internet, there’s a lot of shady dealers who will try to scam you and sell you junk. When it comes to SARMs and other performance enhancing substances, it’s especially important that you do your research and avoid purchasing from disreputable, shady companies.
Having been in the fitness industry for nearly a decade, I’ve searched far and wide for the best sources—and I can find no better than Proven Peptides. They are my go to for anything and everything SARMs related, and best of all if you click on this link and use the code “1sttimer10off” you’ll get a 10% discount, plus free shipping on orders over $75.
The thing that really sold me on Proven Peptides is that you can actually call in and speak with a customer representative. For anyone who’s tried to order SARMs, modafinil, or any other “legal grey area” type substance online, you’ll know that this is incredibly rare and indicative of a good company.
I’m currently using their ostarine, ligandrol, and cardarine, and boy do I feel GREAT! My lifts are way up in the gym, I’m visibly leaner, and girls have been giving me complements left and right. To be fair I was already pretty jacked, and I’m about 4 weeks into this SARMs cycle, but I’ve noticed some pretty incredible benefits.
All in all, SARMs are a relatively new set of compounds which are currently undergoing testing. What research we do have suggests that they’re extremely effective at helping users put on muscle, lose fat, and gain strength—all while having virtually none of the side effects that steroids often present.
They’ve often been called an alternative to steroids, and while this may not be 100% true, it’s pretty damn accurate. I will be posting a “before and after” article once I’m done with my current cycle of ostarine, cardarine, and ligandrol, but I can already tell it’s incredibly effective.
If you do decide to use SARMs, I recommend you purchase them from Proven Peptides. They have the best reviews by far, they offer phenomenal customer support, and most importantly, I can tell that they’re the real deal. I felt a difference within 3 days of using their products.
I realize that this was a very science-heavy article, and somewhat of a departure from my normal “fuck bitches, get money, get jacked” type content, but I hope you guys enjoyed it. If you have any questions, feel free to leave them in the comments section below, and as always, I’ll see you next time!
Jon Anthony is a world renowned dating coach and the founder of Masculine Development, a website specifically dedicated to helping men improve their personal, dating, and financial lives. After years of training men how to attract women, build muscle, and make more money, Jon created the "7 Strategies" program to help kickstart your journey to success. Jon firmly believes that every man should have control over his own life, and he created Masculine Development to share his passion with men who want success in all areas.