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 they legal? How do they work?
…and perhaps most importantly, what are the potential side effects of taking them? The average lifter knows almost nothing about this.
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 they 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. 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 men realize. The first wave of these was introduced in the 1940’s by Ligand Pharmaceuticals, 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 to the 1990’s however, and GTx, Incorporated 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 FAR less of the side effects, making them ideal for body building.
Most men are shocked at how well SARMs work, considering they have far less side effects when compared to steroids, according to the evidence.
How do they work? Well, the magic lies in their mechanism of action, which selectively targets androgen receptors in the human body.
SARMs work by binding to skeletal muscle cell androgen receptors, while simultaneously avoiding prostate and organ cell receptors.
This means that they help your muscles grow, without giving you many of the common side effects of steroids, like an enlarged prostate.
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.
|Least Toxic||Medium Toxicity|
|Few Side Effects||High Side Effects|
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 the selective nature of SARMs, they typically only have 1-5% of the potential side effects that steroids do, but are 80-90% as effective.
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).
The funny thing is, prohormones are 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 hard it is for your liver to process 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.
SARMs can bring about some pretty incredible results in the human body. In fact, you can see some of my SARMs before and after results above.
That was the results I got from a SARMs cycle of something called RAD 140, which in my opinion, is the best SARM on the market.
Using this SARM, known as RAD 140, I was able to put on a whopping 21 pounds of muscle, and lose 12 pounds of fat in just 60 days flat.
So, if you’re curious, and want to know more about SARMs, how to use them, and how to transform your physique, then read on.
SARMs have a number of clinically proven benefits, all backed by scientific evidence. The effect they have on the human body is incredible.
Like I said, when I was on my last cycle, I got leaner every day, was shredding body fat like crazy, and my strength exploded upwards.
Here are some benefits of taking SARMs:
Take it from someone who has been on three separate SARMs cycles—these things work, and they work REALLY fucking well. Trust me on that.
One doesn’t have to look that far to find men left and right, all proclaiming the glories of these compounds—myself included!
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 scientific 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 many of the negative side effects steroids are known for:
“The last decade has witnessed unprecedented discovery effort to develop selective androgen receptor modulators 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 a scientific study conducted by a privately owned pharmaceutical company, SARMs were shown to help cancer patients stop muscle wasting:
“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. [They] 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, [they] are orally active, nonaromatizable, nonvirilizing, and tissue-selective anabolic agents.”
When you think about it, it’s really no surprise that they can be used to help fight cancer. People on chemo lose a ton of muscle, and SARMs stop this.
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 a SARM called S-40503 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… 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—there’s a ton more that are still being studied, as well.
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 they’re are far superior to steroids, let’s take a look at some of the best SARMs on the market and their effects.
After reading this, you should have a better understanding the different types of SARMs, and the specific effects that each one has on the body.
Ostarine, one of the more popular selective androgen receptor modulators, was first developed by GTx, Inc. to treat muscle-wasting diseases.
It wasn’t long however, before body builders caught onto its effectiveness, and started using it to bulk up in record time.
One study found that even a RIDICULOUSLY small dosage of Ostarine can help users put on huge amounts of muscle in minimal time.
The scientific study put users on 3 mg of Ostarine per day, and they ended up gaining 3 pounds more of muscle than the placebo did in three months.
To put this in perspective, Ostarine has been shown to be safe in dosages up to 50 mg per day. That’s more than 15x what the study gave their users.
Lifters typically take Ostarine during bulking phases and recomposition phases, because it’s especially good for building muscle and strength.
During bulking phases, many report muscle gains of 10+ pounds within just 8 weeks, in addition to shredding fat, and increasing strength.
The real magic however, comes when you stack Ostarine with other compounds. It can be stacked with many other SARMs, most notably Cardarine, Ligandrol, and Andarine.
Read my guide to SARMs stacks for more information on this.
One scientific 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.
While Cardarine isn’t actually a SARM, it’s often thrown in with them due to its incredible ability to enhance athletic performance.
Cardarine technically binds to peroxisome proliferator-activated receptors rather than androgen receptors, but it’s usually classified as a SARM.
Cardarine is primarily used to improve endurance and lose weight, meaning it gives endurance athletes a huge advantage in competition.
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.
One scientific study conducted by multiple prestigious universities in the USa found that LGD-4033 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.”
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 for beach season.
It’s not uncommon for users to take Ligandrol and report “rapid fat loss,” like I experienced on my cycle. I lost 7 pounds of fat from this stuff.
The real magic of Ligandrol, in my opinion, is when you stack it with Cardarine, however. Stacking SARMs gives you way more benefits.
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.
Not only does Andarine increase strength, build muscle, and shred 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.
For the most part, as with other SARMs, there are very few side effects when taken within the recommended dosage range.
When dosed at over 50 mg 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). Andarine is another very powerful SARM developed by GTx, Inc. due to its wide range of benefits.
The second, and more serious side effect, is occasional night time blindness. Some users report a yellowish tint in vision when taking over 50 mg of Andarine, so it’s recommended that you don’t take more than 50 mg per day.
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 androgenic 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.
Testolone is by far the strongest SARM out there right now. In fact, one scientific study conducted by researchers at Cambridge University describes this SARM as being a “potent, orally bio-available, non-steroidal selective androgen receptor modulator,” and even compared it to steroids:
“Taken in sum, RAD140 has all the hallmarks of a SARM. It is potency selective, since it stimulates muscle weight increases at a lower dose than that required to stimulate prostate weight increases. Moreover, it is also efficacy selective, because it is fully anabolic on muscle but demonstrates less than complete efficacy on the prostate and seminal vesicles and, in fact, can partially antagonize the stimulation of the seminal vesicles induced by testosterone.”
All in all, this is powerful stuff with virtually very few side effects. I’ve personally been on RAD 140, and had incredible results, which I posted on my blog.
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. 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 them when you’re trying to bulk.
According to a scientific 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 scientific study found it increased GH by 82% compared to placebo. This is massive, considering it has so few side effects relative to steroids.
In short, MK-677 helps you recover WAY faster, and when combined with SARMs like Ostarine or Testolone will give you incredible results.
One of the biggest concerns people have with SARMs is whether or not they have to inject them—and thankfully, no needles are required here.
To take SARMs, you simply load up a dropper with whatever dosage you decided to take, put it in your mouth, and then chug it down with water.
Hell, they even have flavored SARMs these days. I didn’t have that shit when I started my first cycle—you kids have got it so damn easy these days!
Anyways, there’s some important info to know about taking SARMs. They’re usually taken in a “cycle” of 8-12 weeks, and then you take a break.
|Weeks 1-8||SARMs Cycle|
|Weeks 9-12||Post Cycle Therapy|
|Weeks 13-16||Take A Break (Be Natty)|
This is very important. You don’t want to take SARMs 24/7—you want to take them DAILY, for 8-12 weeks, and then follow it up with a PCT.
SARMs will lower your natural testosterone production slightly (don’t worry, it’s 100% reversible), so you want to give your body a break.
Before you start your first cycle, I recommend you read my guide to running a proper SARMs post cycle therapy—this is very important.
I used to think that SARMs didn’t require a PCT, and while there’s some evidence to suggest this may be the case, I now err on the side of caution.
Even though some scientific evidence suggests that testosterone will return to normal even without a PCT, I still recommend one just to be extra safe.
The idea behind a PCT, or “post cycle therapy” is simple—it gets your natural testosterone production back to normal, so you can keep training hard after your SARMs cycle, and keep most of your gains, too.
The biggest question most people have, after hearing how effective SARMs are at building muscle and shredding fat, is if they’re legal or not.
Thankfully, SARMs are 100% legal to buy, sell, and possess, because they’re sold for “research purposes” so technically not for human consumption.
So, according to the law, unless you literally pull out SARMs in front of a police officer and start consuming them, you are 100% in the clear.
Currently, SARMs are legal in the following locations:
SARMs are also legal to purchase and possess in most other countries, such as India, the Netherlands, Sweden, Pakistan, and much more.
The only time I would NOT take them is if I was either an Olympic athlete, college athlete, or military member, who may get tested for them.
That being said, usually only professional athletes have to worry about taking them, since they’re on the World Anti-Doping Agency’s list of prohibited substances, for giving athletes such an unfair advantage.
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.
In fact, I wrote an article on why most SARMs for sale are complete garbage. I highly urge you to read this, so you know how many scams there are.
I’ve 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. In my opinion, they are the best place to buy SARMs online, period.
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 “Masculinedev” you’ll get a 10% discount, plus free shipping on orders over $99.
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, or get any other “legal grey area” type substance online, you’ll know that this is incredibly rare and indicative of a good company.
While many users tout the benefits of SARMs, one thing to consider is are there any side effects? Fortunately, they have very few side effects when used within the recommended ranges.
Some SARMs have been shown to suppress testosterone levels, so it’s important that you take a post cycle therapy after your cycle.
Anabolic steroids have a huge number of side effects ranging from heart disease to gynecomastia (bitch tits), but thankfully SARMs are far safer than this—I can attest to this myself.
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.
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, they have very few 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 this product if you’re under the age of 18. It’s always better to be safe, and build muscle naturally.
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 them, I recommend you purchase them from Proven Peptides, which is where I get all of mine from online.
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 men 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!
While SARMs have not been approved by the FDA for human use yet, they are currently undergoing Phase II clinical trials for the treatment of muscle wasting diseases. Most research suggests that SARMs are safe when used properly, although more research is needed.
While SARMs are often confused with steroids, they're very different. SARMs have far less side effects than steroids, due to their selective nature in binding to androgen receptors. So, the short answer is no, SARMs are not the same as steroids.
It depends on who you ask. Most experts agree that SARMs tend to have less androgenic side effects than steroids, due to their non-hormonal nature, although most experts also agree that the long term side effects of steroids are much more well-known than SARMs.
SARMs will most likely not make you fail a drug test, unless you are an Olympic athlete. The majority of drug tests are aiming to detect drugs such as methamphetamine and marijuana, not SARMs. The only time that you may be tested for SARMs is if you're competing in an athletic competition.
Jon Anthony is a dating coach, fitness expert, and self-improvement guru. He dropped out of college to start Masculine Development in 2015, and has since been self-employed, helping men across the world achieve their best lives. You can best reach him on social media, or via email for questions.
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