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.
What Are SARMs?
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.
SARMs vs. Steroids
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).
SARMs vs. Pro-Hormones
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.
Benefits of SARMs
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:
- Non-toxic (won’t cause liver damage)
- Increase bone density
- Doesn’t shut your natural testosterone production down
- Build lean, dense muscle
- Recover faster
- Improved strength
- Heal joints and tendons
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.
Increased Muscle Strength
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.
Helps Fight Cancer
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.
Increase Bone Density
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.
Ostarine (MK-2866, GTx-024)
Other Names: MK-2866, GTx-024
Used For: Building Muscle, Fat Loss, Strength Gain
Cycle: 6-8 Weeks
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.
|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|
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.