SARMs have become a huge trend in the fitness industry during the last few years. But exaggerated marketing claims and limited information on SARMs have muddied the waters.
However, you just need to keep reading to get a clear overview of SARMs, what they actually are and why you should be interested in them.
What are SARMs?
For over 70 years, bodybuilders have used anabolic steroids to push their physiques to new heights.
Steroids like testosterone, Dianabol and Deca.
Steroids grow your muscle and increase your strength. But they don’t only affect your muscle. They affect your entire body and make your prostate grow larger. You become hairier and so forth.
But wait, there’s more:
Your body converts a fraction of those anabolic steroids into estrogen, a female hormone. Estrogen causes water retention, mood swings, acne and gynocomastia (manboobs).
That’s why scientists developed SARMs…
SARMs are a type of investigational drugs developed to give the good effect of steroids – muscle growth and strength – without the bad parts.
The term “SARM” stands for Selective Androgen Receptor Modulator.
You may think it’s just a bunch of word salad, but here’s how it all works:
Although SARMs are not steroids, they mimic the effects of steroids and only bind to your muscle and bone. It makes them stronger and bigger. And it leaves other parts of your body alone.
This minimizes the possible side effects.
And since SARMs cannot convert into estrogen, unlike steroids, the risk of bloating, gynecomastia and other estrogen-related side effects are minimal.
SARMs are a milder alternative to steroids. Your gains are more clean and lean, and the side effects aren’t as mean.
Enobosarm [scientific name for Ostarine] is a non-steroidal agent with anabolic activity. Selective androgen receptor modulator (SARM) GTx-024 is designed to work like testosterone, thus promoting and/or maintaining libido, fertility, prostate growth, and muscle growth and strength. Mimicking testosterone’s action, this agent may increase lean body mass, thereby ameliorating muscle wasting in the hypermetabolic state of cancer cachexia.
Even though they have to sound professional with all that medical mumbo-jumbo, they are correct.
Because here’s the truth:
SARMs are the most popular muscle-building supplements for a reason. In some situations, they can compare to moderate doses of mild steroids like Anavar or Primobolan.
Don’t expect as extreme results from SARMs as from a hardcore cycle of steroids. But don’t kid yourself:
SARMs are serious performance enhancers. If you take any of them you won’t be a natural anymore.
Bodybuilders replace oral steroids like Anavar or Winstrol with SARMs. The muscle gains are similar, but unlike oral steroids, SARMs are NOT liver toxic or bad on your kidneys. The side effects are way less pronounced.
SARMs are as close you can get to steroids without touching the real thing.
Different types of SARMs
There’s a wide array of different SARMs. But before we get into the meat of it, you first got to learn of one very important distinction:
The are some chemicals that are often referred to as SARMs when they technically aren’t. This is mainly because it’s sold under the same sections at suppliers, and it’s simply more convenient to refer to them as SARMs instead of their actual, chemical categories.
The most common examples of these are two: MK-677 and Cardarine.
MK-677 is a growth hormone booster, and Cardarine is a fat burning agent and stamina enhancer. They’re very powerful and quite safe, but still, don’t fall into the true SARMs category — they are not androgenic and don’t affect your androgenic receptors.
But what about the real SARMs?
How many are there and what’s the difference between them?
Well, there are quite a few SARMs developed by now — however, only a few have been interesting enough to become adopted by the fitness industry and become available to normal consumers.
- Ligandrol (LGD-4033)
Their popularity varies, and that’s for a reason. Some are more effective and have less side effects than others.
Let’s go over them briefly.
Ostarine is the #1 most popular SARM today, and I understand that. It gives most people lean, steady results with very mild side effects.
Most people can try this compound without experiencing significant downsides at all.
Due to the friendliness of this SARM, most people see Ostarine as the go-to when they’re on a cut or want to recomposition their physiques. Since they aren’t looking to put on slabs of muscle — and just want to keep what they have — they opt for this mild SARM that still allows them to stay anabolic.
Ligandrol is also one of the most popular SARMs, and it’s my personal favorite. Every other SARM in the world could disappear, I wouldn’t care as long as Ligandrol remained. I just love it.
I feel that way mostly because Ligandrol is a great mass builder, and personally I feel practically no side effects. But that’s for my body — in general, more people feel side effects from LGD-4033 than Ostarine.
To me, 10 mg of Ligandrol a day is comparable to 500 mg of Testosterone Cypionate a week. But I actually like Ligandrol better, because you don’t get the problems that come with testosterone at that dosage, and you’ll retain less water.
RAD140 is very similar to Ligandrol. You will get a bit less mass gains, but RAD140 will make you slightly more aggressive and strong in the gym.
Some prefer RAD140 over Ligandrol because RAD140 increases their sense of well-being, whereas Ligandrol is neutral in that regard.
S4 is quite similar to Ostarine, a bit stronger, and they were actually developed by the same pharmaceutical company. However, Ostarine’s made it further in medical trials. Probably because they deemed Ostarine to be safer.
S4 has one very interesting side effects:
It binds to receptors in your eyes, which causes a temporary change in your vision. You may sometimes — especially during the night — notice a yellow tint in your vision. Most people report that this goes away after you lower the dosage or end your cycle, but you should still beware.
YK-11 is a very special SARM. Even though it is a real SARM, it’s also derived from DHT — an anabolic steroid. And it doesn’t stop there:
YK-11 isn’t popular because it works just like any other SARM.
Your body naturally doesn’t want too much muscle, as it’s a liability with too much carry around too much muscle mass. Which is why the body produces a special protein that regulates how much muscle you can carry.
YK-11 inhibits the protein that regulates how much muscle mass you can carry.
That means YK-11 has the potential to bring you past your genetic limit in a way not even anabolic steroids do. Interesting, isn’t it?
SARMs VS Anabolic Steroids
I’ve used both SARMs and anabolic steroids.
And the answer to this question is not as simple as you think.
Of course, SARMs can’t compete against a monster cycle of powerful steroids like Trenbolone, Dianabol or Superdrol.
It all depends on what SARM and steroid you compare, and in what quantities. Gram for gram, any SARM is way stronger than any steroid. But steroids are always dosed tens of times higher anyway.
If you were to compare a “normal” cycle of SARMs and a normal “cycle” of steroids, many steroids would win. But SARMs would be stronger than some milder steroids like Proviron, Anavar, Winstrol, Turinabol and so forth.
Why SARMs have an edge
What you need to keep in mind is that the big win you get with SARMs is the drastically fewer side effects you notice.
Using steroids will jack up your entire hormonal profile, cover your entire back with hair and acne, grow your prostate, complete testosterone shutdown and accelerated hair loss.
And let’s not sugar coat it:
You’re still at risk of having the same kind of side effects as steroids. But the risks will be immensely lower, and if you do take the shitty lottery ticket and get some side effect, it will be much less pronounced than if you were on steroids.
SARM Side Effects
Let’s get into the meat of what side effects SARMs have.
There is one side effect everyone who uses SARMs will be exposed to. It may be so small that you never notice it, or it could make you feel really shitty.
When you take a SARM, you allow it to enter your system and bind to androgen receptors in your muscle and bone.
And when SARMs are bound to some of your androgen receptors, that means your natural testosterone doesn’t have to do its job anymore. It becomes unnecessary.
Your body gets all this muscle building good stuff from outside, so it doesn’t feel the need to produce as much testosterone on its own anymore. Your natural testosterone production will decrease.
The higher dosage of SARMs you take, and for the longer you take them, the more suppressed your natural testosterone will be. It also depends on your genetics and the SARM you take. Ostarine causes minimal suppression, whereas Ligandrol and RAD140 are more suppressive.
It’s a downside you can’t get around, and you will always need to perform a PCT (Post Cycle Therapy) to kickstart your own testosterone production after a SARM cycle.
Androgenic Side Effects
When I explained how SARMs worked, I mentioned how SARMs are selective, unlike anabolic steroids. They bind to androgen receptors in your muscle and bone, while leaving your other cells alone.
That’s true — but SARMs aren’t exactly 100% selective, at least they have a slight effect in your entire body. They can still cause minimal effect on things like hair growth, prostate growth and such.
It means that SARMs can cause the same androgenic side effects as steroids, but on a much lower scale.
You’re still at risk of accelerating balding. You should still be careful if you’re a woman, and stick to low dosages of mild SARMs.
Bad Blood Cholesterol
Every SARM has a negative effect on blood cholesterol — the good cholesterol goes down, and your bad goes up.
It’s impossible to get away from, but unless you’re prone to cardiovascular disease, it won’t be a huge risk as long as you exercise and eat a good diet.
It’s ridiculously rare, especially since SARMs don’t convert into estrogen at all, but some people get gynecomastia flareups from SARMs.
But that should only be a concern if you’re genetically prone to gynecomastia and has had trouble with it in the past.
Are SARMS Safe If They Have These Side Effects?
Okay, so when most people talk about SARMs, they say it’s like steroids without the side effects.
That’s not true, as you’ve learned by now — SARMs have side effects, and since they’re androgenic just like steroids, the types of side effects are very similar.
What’s different is how high the risks are.
No matter what, it’s safe to say that the risk of experiencing side effects from SARMs is much lower. And if you happen to experience any side effect, it will be less pronounced than if you take anabolic steroids.
So from that point, we can conclude that SARMs are not 100% safe — you expose yourself to additional risk than if you take nothing at all.
But they are much, much safer than steroids.
At least based on what we know about SARMs today. The scientific literature on SARMs is limited, and they haven’t been around for long.
That means… even though we may have an idea about the short-term side effects of SARMs…
We have no idea on the long-term effects, and consequences that may not be apparent from simple blood analysis.
That’s why all SARMs are still classified as research chemicals. Although they’ve proven to work, enough studies haven’t been performed to ensure they’re safe enough to prescribe to patients.
A lot of these research chemicals are still being studied to this day. Some clinical studies have shown promising results but the long-term side effects are still unknown.
Let’s be clear: No one can guarantee you won’t experience any SARM side effects that negatively affect your health. Take it at your own risk.
How To Buy SARMs
If you’ve read this post and caught an interest in SARMs, listen very closely:
You need to be careful if you want to get your hands on SARMs. First, make sure it’s legal to buy them in your country.
Once you’re certain you don’t violate any laws, it’s crucial that you purchase the SARMs from a trustworthy supplier.
Sadly, there are lots of companies that sell bunk products. Here are some risks you need to be careful of:
- Either they sell you stuff that isn’t SARMs at all, and substituted with oral steroids or prohormones.
- Or they sell you SARMs that are underdosed. They might say a pill contains 20 mg of Ostarine, but they only put 10 mg in it to save money.
- Or they sell impure SARMs that contain toxic trace chemicals or spiked with steroids.
Lucky for you, there are a couple of trustworthy suppliers. If you go with one of them, you’ll be as safe as you can possibly be.
If you’re in the US, I personally recommend Proven Peptides. They are professional and third-party test their products to ensure quality. Read this article to learn more about why they’re my #1 recommended source.
What To Do Next…
You’ve made your way through this 2,000-word article, but your journey has only begun. There’s still a lot of things you need to learn before touching SARMs.
Here’s what you need to research…
What different SARMs there are, and how they differ
Get started and read about the types of SARMs. A good way to begin is by reading these articles:
What other compounds you can stack SARMs with
As you read earlier, there are compounds wrongly referred to as SARMs. However, they are still great for building your perfect physique, and stack well with SARMs.
Read about them:
What to ask yourself before a SARM cycle
SARMs aren’t for everyone, so read “9 Questions Before Your First SARM Cycle“.
What to do after a SARM cycle
SARMs suppress your testosterone, so if you’re a man, you need to perform a Post Cycle Therapy to get it back to normal.
SARMs are very interesting chemicals if you’re interested in fitness and bodybuilding. I hope this guide has provided some useful information to help keep you safe.
But before you go, I recommend you to subscribe to my email list. Scroll down on mobile, or check the sidebar on desktop. Also, turn on push notifications.
That way, you’ll be sure to always get notified when I publish something new about SARMs, which you’re probably interested in. You read to the end of this blog post, after all.
Be safe. And until next time,
— Alexander Contrarian