PED Use » SARMs

SARMs 101: The Bodybuilder’s Guide

Here's all you need to know about types of SARMs and how they work to side effects, bloodwork, cycle examples, and more.
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Disclaimer: The following guide is based on my personal experience and does NOT promote the illegal use of PEDs.

SARMs have opened the doors to new people who have never used ANY performance-enhancing substances before. Sure, there are also steroid users who’ve become interested in SARMs. After all, with the supposed ability to produce similar results with “no side effects,” who wouldn’t pay attention? I’ve found that two main groups of people are checking out SARMs with a serious view to using them.

These are:

  • Guys who’ve been using anabolic steroids but would instead not be using them if they can get the same results some other way.
  • Guys who’ve never used steroids and don’t want to but feel like they’re missing out if they don’t use something.

So, I’ve also been receiving emails, mainly from the second group. Bodybuilders (or those relatively new to it all) who want the quickest way to get big without using steroids. A lot of these emails and messages are so similar that I’ve just copied one below (the sender will remain anonymous) so you can get an idea. And, if you’re also thinking similar to these people, I hope my guide will help you, too!

Here’s the email:

Hey, I’ve never done steroids or SARMs before, but I’m seriously thinking of giving SARMs a go.

Are they really milder than steroids? I’ve seen some huge results out there. Are these guys really using just SARMs and getting the same results as steroids?

What about the side effects? I read that SARMs don’t need PCT, and you can literally do a whole cycle without thinking about any other side effects. Is it true? Where should I start with SARMs, and what’s the best one for a newbie to use?

Thanks!”

So rather than repeat me continually by replying to messages like the above, I’ve put together this extensive guide. You’ll find everything from cycle examples (yes, including for first-time SARM users), types of SARMs and how they work, side effects, and tons more.

Let’s jump in!

SARMs: What are they?

SARM stands for Selective Androgen Receptor Modulator. But what does that even mean? There are two SARM types: non-steroidal SARMs and steroidal SARMs. Non-steroidal SARMs are of most interest today because they can selectively stimulate anabolism in targeted tissues with little to no androgenicity.

The key is that SARMs can target selective tissues. Muscle and bone are the main targets of SARMs, where stimulation of anabolic effects includes these primary benefits:

  • Muscle growth
  • Bone strength
  • Muscular strength
  • Endurance

While SARMs have great potential as future medical treatments for various conditions, the characteristics listed above make SARMs attractive to bodybuilders, athletes, and fitness enthusiasts.

SARMs have indeed become a popular alternative to steroids. You might see people claiming SARMs to be safer or as causing fewer side effects. But as you’ll see in my detailed guide below, things aren’t always what they seem when it comes to SARMs, and you’ll want to make sure you’re aware of the risks if you’re considering jumping into the world of SARMs and research chemicals.

What is an Androgen?

Androgens are a steroid hormone that binds to androgen receptors in cells around the body. Androgens can either occur naturally in the body or be created synthetically in a lab. The most well-known androgen is the primary male sex hormone, testosterone.

The primary role of androgen is to: “Direct, regulate and maintain male characteristic development through the process of androgen receptor binding.” In performance enhancement, androgens taken at higher doses promote the increased ability to build muscle, develop more strength, and perform physically at a higher level.

Androgens like testosterone are called anabolic steroids. Other steroids are usually modified versions of testosterone, as well as DHT. While anabolic steroids are potent androgens with a strong anabolic nature, their androgenic activity is usually very strong, resulting in a host of unwanted side effects.

What is a selective modulator?

A selective receptor modulator (or just SRM) is a drug or compound that can cause different effects in different types of tissue in the body. An SRM can either stimulate or block a specific receptor. Where a receptor is able to be stimulated, it’s possible to bring about the beneficial effects that the receptor is responsible for.

Specifically, when it comes to SARMs, we would be most interested in the selective receptors in the muscle to stimulate muscle growth. And because a selective modulator is “selective,” side effects are minimized because non-targeted receptors are not (in theory) going to be activated. However, this process is still yet to be perfected.

SARMs are far from perfect, and most will result in some activation of androgen receptors outside those desired targeted ones. BUT: SARMs, with their selectivity, will rarely be as androgenic as steroid androgens like testosterone.

How do SARMs work?

SARMs work by being selective in the androgen receptors that they bind to. This leaves many irrelevant androgen receptors untouched, unlike the non-selective activity of anabolic steroids.

SARMs are designed to target androgen receptors in tissue that promote muscle growth by stimulating anabolic activity in the bone and muscle. At the same time, SARMs can avoid binding to receptors which trigger unwanted androgenic side effects.

But this process is not perfect: As we all know, SARMs are still being researched, and there’s a lot of room for improvement. So far, no SARM is perfectly selective, and many will not be able to prevent the binding of at least some non-targeted androgen receptors.

So, what does this mean in practical terms? While their ratio of anabolic to androgenic effects is much more favorable than anabolic steroids, you can still see some androgenic effects with SARMs. The standard anabolic steroid measure of anabolic-to-androgenic ratio is Testosterone at 1:1. RAD-140, for example, has an anabolic-to-androgenic ratio of about 90:1.

This is good news: Many SARMs will result in impressive lean body mass increases while boosting the process of fat loss (lipolysis).

Effects of SARMs (Benefits)

If you’re familiar with the benefits of anabolic steroids, then you’ll see that SARMs are very similar in their positive effects. These benefits will often come with a significantly reduced adverse side effect profile compared to steroids and prohormones. Some of the main benefits of SARMs include:

  • Increase lean muscle mass
  • Help reduce body fat
  • Maintain existing muscle when cutting (anti-catabolic)
  • Speed up recovery time
  • Boost strength and endurance
  • Promote healthier and stronger joints, bones, and ligaments
  • Not toxic to the liver
  • Do not convert to estrogen
  • Reduce the risk of prostate issues
  • Provide similar benefits to testosterone

Just like with anabolic steroids, some SARMs excel in certain areas more than others. That’s why you must be aware of the specific properties of each SARM before using it. This also allows you to create effective stacks with synergistic SARMs (see further down in this guide for more details on that).

SARMs: Liquid vs. Capsules

You wouldn’t believe the controversy that can come up over the seemingly simple choice between using liquid or capsule forms of SARMs. Yes, this is a topic that some people are particularly passionate about! But is it worth worrying whether capsules or liquid SARMs are better? Or are they the same, and you should base your choice on whatever type is more accessible for you to buy?

First, you should know that a lot of misinformation is being thrown in forums and social media on this subject. In most cases, people will state with much confidence that liquid SARMs are better than capsules. Rarely will they have any concrete evidence as to WHY their theory is correct, though. In those cases, these people have got their ideas from… other people with the same ideas! And so, down the line, the false theories continue to travel.

But this is all you need to know about SARM liquid vs. capsules: All SARMs start their life as a powder. That’s the raw materials that labs use to create their SARMs products. It’s the quality of that powder that will contribute considerably to the quality of the final product.

So manufacturing labs then have to decide how they’ll deliver that SARM powder to you, the consumer. They can put the powder into a capsule, but because SARMs are not legally allowed to be sold for human consumption, this method indirectly implies that the SARM is made for people to use.

After all, what sort of chemical researcher wants to buy their chemical in a swallowable capsule? Despite this, many SARMs are still sold in capsules and generally sell successfully in that legal gray area that we’re familiar with. This leads to the main reason companies sell SARMs as a liquid: It looks better from a legal perspective.

A liquid product looks more raw and looks like something that would or should be used strictly for scientific research. SARM sellers don’t sell liquid SARMs because they think they work better (they don’t) or because they’re more bioavailable (they aren’t). They want to cover their legal bases as well as possible and attract less attention from authorities.

Capsules have some benefits over liquid SARMs:

  • They have a longer shelf life
  • Capsules generally are easier to ship (no bottles to break)
  • Easier to consume

But all SARMs are still made of that original raw powder. At the end of the day, that’s what you need to know. So, to conclude and hopefully put the controversy of liquid vs. capsule SARMs to rest:

  • Liquid SARMs – easier to adjust for very small changes in dosage compared to breaking open capsules; appear more legitimate as a research product from a legal view.
  • Capsule SARMs – easier to take, store for a more extended period so you can stock up, and have greater appeal to a broader customer base due to convenience and familiarity.

But when it comes to the bioavailability and efficacy of liquid and capsule SARMs? Both are the same. Your choice will come down to what’s easier or cheaper for you to buy and how you prefer to administer a SARM.

Types of SARMs

Research chemicals come and go all the time; thousands of chemicals are researched yearly for pharmaceutical potential. Most never make it past the research stage. SARMs are no different.

So, while a long list of SARMs has been created (so far), only a relatively small number get all the attention from us bodybuilders and athletes (as well as anti-doping authorities). Remember this: Everyone will have a different response to different SARMs.

This is a list of the most popular SARMs at the moment:

  • Ostarine (MK-2866)
  • LGD-4033 (Ligandrol)
  • RAD-140 (Testolone)
  • Andarine (S-4)
  • S23
  • YK-11
  • LGD-3303
  • ACP-105
  • AC-262536

The SARMs and other performance-enhancing compounds listed below are the primary ones you should know about. The description of the pros and cons are based on general experiences and standard usage.

Ostarine (MK-2866)

Ostarine is one of the most widely used SARMs thanks to its all-around anabolic benefits. Ostarine can be used for bulking or for maintaining muscle while cutting.

Ostarine SARM
Ostarine SARM

You’ll find it helpful in enhancing recovery, with positive effects on the joints, tendons, and ligaments. Bodybuilders, athletes, and fitness enthusiasts can all find valuable benefits in Ostarine.

Pros:

  • Subcutaneous and visceral fat loss
  • Lean muscle preservation
  • Muscle mass gains
  • Strength increase
  • Joint healing
  • More endurance

Cons:

  • Possible cardiovascular and liver stress in some users
  • Headaches
  • Acne and hair thinning in some users

Dosage:

Ostarine will often be used at 10-25 mg/day for about 8-12 weeks. With the compound having a 24-hour half-life, you can take it once daily (usually in the morning) to ensure it’s always active in your body.

Ligandrol (LGD-4033)

Known as a very steroid-like SARM, Ligandrol has very similar effects as testosterone.

LGD-4033 SARM
LGD-4033 SARM

The muscle-building effects of Ligandrol make this one of the most popular SARMs with bodybuilders who want significant gains without using steroids. However, some steroid-type side effects are possible.

Pros:

  • Increased strength
  • Lean muscle gains
  • Fat loss
  • Faster muscle healing
  • Increases appetite in some users

Cons:

  • Estrogenic side effects can develop
  • Can cause testosterone suppression
  • Some users see minor hair loss
  • Lethargy at higher doses

Dosage:

Ligandrol will often be used at 5-10 mg/day for about eight weeks. With the compound having a half-life of about 24-36 hours, I find it better to take it once daily (usually in the morning) to ensure it’s always active in my body.

Testolone (RAD-140)

Testolone has some very similar effects on the body as testosterone does, and this SARM is highly regarded for its ability to produce significant gains in both strength and lean muscle.

RAD-140 SARM
RAD-140 SARM

This makes it one of the most popular bulking SARMs available. RAD-140 is such a powerful SARM that new users are strongly recommended to use it only at very low doses to start with.

Pros:

  • Increased muscle gains and lean mass
  • Big strength boost
  • More stamina and endurance
  • Promotes fat burning through enhanced anabolic activity
  • Speeds up recovery

Cons:

  • Androgenic side effects are possible as the dose increases (hair loss, acne)
  • Blood pressure increases are possible at higher doses
  • Minor temporary side effects like lethargy and insomnia were reported in some users
  • It may suppress testosterone and increase estrogen levels

Dosage:

RAD-140 will often be used at 10-20 mg/day for about 6-8 weeks. With the compound having a 24-hour half-life (up to 60 hours, according to some users), the dosing frequency is once a day (preferably in the morning) to make sure it’s always active in the body.

Andarine (S-4)

Andarine is especially valued as a compound that helps preserve lean muscle while cutting.

Andarine SARM
Andarine SARM

Andarine comes with the ability to improve bone density as well and is considered one of the milder SARMs overall.

Pros:

  • Decreased body fat
  • Maintains and builds muscle mass
  • Increased bone density
  • Enhanced performance and strength
  • Increased vascularity

Cons:

  • Testosterone suppression
  • Changes to vision (e.g., light sensitivity, yellowing of vision), especially with longer-term uses

Dosage:

Andarine will often be used at 25-75 mg/day for 8-12 weeks. With the compound having a relatively short half-life of 3-4 hours, I find it better to split the dose during the day (morning, noon, and night) instead of taking it all at once to ensure it’s always active in my body.

S-23

Some people will call S-23 the strongest SARM there is. Some will compare it to the steroid Winstrol, with similar benefits minus the side effects.

S-23 SARM
S-23 SARM

At least, that’s what people assume. Unfortunately, S-23 DOES come with some potentially severe side effects that you’ll want to be aware of.

Pros:

  • Increases muscle mass and strength
  • Promotes fat loss
  • Endurance and recovery times are boosted
  • High binding affinity and high bioavailability

Cons:

  • Steroid-type testosterone suppression
  • Potentially causes infertility
  • Increased aggression
  • Night sweats
  • Hair thinning

Dosage:

S-23 will often be used at 10-30 mg/day for 4-8 weeks. With the compound having a short half-life of 12 hours, I find it better to split the dose during the day (morning and evening) to ensure it’s always active in my body.

YK-11

YK-11 is as close to an anabolic steroid as you can get. It works as a SARM and a myostatin inhibitor. By actively inhibiting myostatin, which inhibits muscle growth, the potential for building muscle is increased.

YK-11 SARM
YK-11 SARM

Myostatin prevents the muscle from growing, so by inhibiting it, you increase the potential for muscle growth when combined with resistance training. YK-11 decreases myostatin through the process of increasing the protein follistatin.

It’s common to see impressive gains in the muscle of up to 15 lbs after the first YK-11 cycle. It’s been found that some professional bodybuilders have a genetic inclination to be naturally myostatin deficient, indicating just how powerful YK-11 can be in promoting muscle growth.

Pros:

  • Increases muscle growth
  • Increases muscular strength
  • Improves bone strength

Cons:

  • Hair loss (usually temporary)
  • Gyno at high doses
  • Testosterone suppression
  • Acne in some users
  • More aggression

Dosage:

YK-11 will often be used at 5-10 mg/day for 4-8 weeks. With the compound having a relatively short half-life of 6-8 hours, I find it better to split the dose during the day (morning, noon, and night) to make sure it’s always active in my body.

LGD-3303

Don’t confuse LGD 3033 with the similarly named LGD-4033 because these are two different SARMs.

LGD-3303 SARM
LGD-3303 SARM

With its potential to be a possible treatment for osteoporosis, LGD-3303 shows positive effects on bone health. One of the biggest drawcards to LGD-3303 is how fast it works: it’s possible to start seeing its effects within days thanks to a short half-life.

Pros:

  • Muscle mass growth
  • Strength gains
  • Boosts nitrogen retention
  • A full look at the muscles
  • Strength increases
  • Speeds up muscle repair and recovery

Cons:

  • Increased blood pressure
  • Potential for negative cholesterol changes
  • May suppress testosterone
  • A short half-life requires two to three administrations daily

Dosage:

LGD-3303 will often be used at 5-20 mg/day for 4-8 weeks. With the compound having a relatively short half-life of 6-8 hours, I feel like splitting the dose during the day (morning, noon, and night) is the best way to make sure it’s always active in the body.

ACP-105

ACP-105 is considered a possible alternative to Andarine – a popular SARM but one that can come with some concerning effects on your vision.

ACP-105 SARM
ACP-105 SARM

ACP-105 is made to provide the same benefits as Andarine while hopefully avoiding these eye-related side effects. But like so many other compounds of this type, only a tiny amount of research is available, so we still have much to learn about both the positive and negative effects of ACP-105.

Pros:

  • Possible increases in strength, endurance, and speed
  • Increased cognitive ability
  • Usually, it doesn’t require PCT

Cons:

  • Minimal testosterone suppression
  • There are no known side effects due to no human studies and only minimal studies on animals. But that doesn’t mean ACP-105 is side effect-free (we don’t know enough about it yet)

Dosage:

ACP-105 will often be used at 10-25 mg/day for 8-12 weeks. I also find it better to take it 2 or 3 times daily (morning, noon, evening) to ensure it’s always active in my body.

AC-262536

AC-262536 still has minimal research on it despite it being around for over 15 years. It’s known that it has a similar potency to Ostarine and has low androgenic effects.

AC-262536 SARM
AC-262536 SARM

Only a small number of animal studies have been done so far, and these have shown potential to increase testosterone levels and, uniquely, might be able to increase cognitive ability and reduce the protein that causes diseases like Alzheimer’s.

Pros:

  • Increases muscle mass
  • Moderate strength gains
  • Improved post-workout recovery

Cons:

  • Little data is available on potential risks
  • It may suppress luteinizing hormone more than other SARMs
  • Unpleasant to take due to awful/burning taste

Dosage:

ACP-262536 will often be used at 20-30 mg/day for 8-12 weeks. I also find it better to dose it two or three times daily to ensure it’s always active in my body.

SARM-like PEDs

Here’s the deal: There are other types of compounds that are not steroids but can produce some similar effects to SARMs despite the fact that they are not SARMs. Some of these other performance-enhancing substances do often get lumped in with SARMs, but in some cases, they can work very differently.

Some of the popular examples of compounds that may be confused with SARMs but are NOT SARMs include:

  • Cardarine (GW-501516)
  • Stenabolic (SR-9009)
  • Ibutamoren (MK-677)
  • RU-58841
  • GW-0742
  • SR-9011

Cardarine (GW-501516)

Cardarine is a a PPAR (Peroxisome Proliferator Activated Receptor) agonist. It’s trendy because of its excellent fat-burning activity, which makes it a popular cutting cycle compound.

Cardarine PPAR Agonist
Cardarine PPAR Agonist

Cardarine works effectively at promoting fat loss thanks to its ability to alter positively:

  • Insulin sensitivity
  • Glucose tolerance
  • Lipid balance

Quite extreme fat loss has been reported from Cardarine cycles; in some cases, up to 40 lbs within three months. Often, Cardarine is used alongside SARMs like Ostarine.

Cardarine is a desirable compound for its powerful effects on athletes of just about any type, without steroid-type side effects. But there are important reasons why many people will choose not to use Cardarine at all despite its incredible effects.

Pros:

  • Big boost to endurance, stamina, and performance
  • Improves cholesterol profile
  • Moderate fat loss
  • It helps preserve muscle and can promote small muscle gains

Cons:

  • Some people experience mild side effects like fatigue, headache, digestive pain, or insomnia in the short term
  • Caused development of many cancerous tumors in animal studies

Dosage:

Cardarine will often be used at 10-20 mg/day for about 8-10 weeks. With the compound having a half-life of 16-24 hours, you can take it once daily (usually in the morning) to ensure it’s always active in your body.

Stenabolic (SR-9009)

Stenabolic is a a Rev-ErbA agonist. The muscles, fat cells, and liver all contain the Rev-Erb protein, which Stenabolic can bind to. This boosts the level of protein synthesis and enhances your anabolic state despite being able to do so without being a hormonal compound. The result? There is no suppression of natural testosterone; a benefit is that you don’t need PCT after using Stenabolic.

Stenabolic Rev-ErbA agonist
Stenabolic Rev-ErbA Agonist

SR9009 is valued for its promotion of fat loss, mainly through its positive actions on the metabolism. This compound was researched for its potential as an obesity treatment, which gives us a good idea of what it’s been created to do. Stenabolic is also helpful for general fitness goals thanks to its ability to enhance endurance.

Pros:

  • Efficient fat loss
  • Increases the metabolism
  • More muscular strength
  • Increased stamina and endurance

Cons:

  • Digestive upset
  • Stomach cramps
  • Some studies suggest possible alteration of the circadian rhythm, which can impact sleep

Dosage:

Stenabolic will often be used at 20-25 mg/day for eight weeks. With a short half-life of 4 hours, I find it better to split the dose during the day (morning, noon, late afternoon, and night) instead of taking it all at once to ensure it’s always active in my body.

Ibutamoren (MK-677)

Ibutamoren is a growth hormone secretagogue. It can mimic the functions of ghrelin, which boosts IGF-1 and growth hormone levels. In turn, this raises your ability to grow muscle and lose fat at the same time.

Ibutamoren GH Secretagogue
Ibutamoren GH Secretagogue

MK-677 is one of the more unique compounds with the exciting benefit of potentially having some anti-aging effects. This comes alongside a wide range of benefits that are desirable to just about anyone, from bodybuilders to sporting athletes.

If you use Ibutamoren alone in a cycle, you can expect moderate muscle gains of up to 10 lbs. While the potential fat loss effects are useful, they are not as powerful as with some other compounds. MK-677 is a compound that some people can use with little issue, while others don’t enjoy it because they’re susceptible to the potential side effects.

Pros:

  • Muscle building
  • Increases bone strength and mineral density
  • Stimulates appetite
  • Improves recovery and sleep quality

Cons:

  • Possible water retention
  • Headaches, muscle cramps, swollen joints
  • Tiredness and lethargy
  • Vivid or unusual dreams

Dosage:

Ibutamoren will often be used at 10-20 mg/day for about 8-16 weeks. With the compound having a convenient half-life of 24 hours, you can take it once daily (usually in the morning) to ensure it’s always active in your body.

RU-58841

RU-58841 is a non-steroidal anti-androgen that has become attractive for its anti-hair loss effects and is available as a topical formulation.

RU-58841 Non-Steroidal Anti-Androgen
RU-58841 Non-Steroidal Anti-Androgen

Some guys will want to use RU-58841 on a cycle alongside other SARMs that might cause hair loss. One example is combining it with S23, which is notable for causing loss of hair in some users. RU-58841 is a potential alternative to more traditional anti-hair loss products like Finasteride.

Pros:

  • Stops androgen receptors from binding to hair follicles and causing hair loss
  • It can also act as an anti-acne treatment
  • It may help damaged hair follicles to recover
  • No interference with natural testosterone and DHT functions

Cons:

  • Individual reactions are sometimes reported and can include irritation and chest tightness

Compared to Finasteride, RU-58841 is not known to cause any comparable side effects.

Dosage:

RU-58841 will often be used at 30-100 mg/day. You can apply it once per day, usually in the late evening or after a shower.

GW-0742

We could look at GW-0742 as being inspired by Cardarine and being developed to try and combat some of the negatives of that otherwise effective compound. While there’s still much to learn about GW-0742, it has gained a reputation as being significantly better than Cardarine.

GW-0742 PPAR Delta Agonist
GW-0742 PPAR Delta Agonist

GW-0742 is a PPAR delta agonist and chemically, it’s almost identical to Cardarine, with just one minor alteration. The benefits look like they extend outside the traditional bodybuilding and fitness effects into essential areas of health support that will benefit athletes of all types. Unfortunately, just as Cardarine comes with a serious red flag side effect, so does GW-0742 (of a different type).

Pros:

  • Enhances endurance and cardiovascular performance
  • Promotes fat loss
  • Reduces gut inflammation
  • It can lower cholesterol and improve lipid profile

Cons:

  • Increased size of the heart in rodent studies

Dosage:

GW-0742 will often be used at 10-20 mg/day for eight weeks. With the compound’s relatively short half-life, I find it better to split the dose during the day (morning, noon, and night) instead of taking it all at once.

SR-9011

SR9011 has been researched to try and combat some of the shortcomings of Stenabolic, in particular to improve its bioavailability.

SR-9011 Rev-ErbA Agonist
SR-9011 Rev-ErbA Agonist

SR-9011 is a Rev-ErbA agonist. It binds to Rev-ErbA proteins located in the muscles, bones, liver, and fat tissue. It’s especially valued for its fat-loss ability.

Pros:

  • Enhances endurance
  • Reduces body fat
  • Promotes muscle growth
  • Decreases inflammation
  • It may lower anxiety

Cons:

  • It may affect circadian rhythm and cause sleep difficulty
  • Increased sweating

Dosage:

SR-9011 will often be used at 20-25 mg/day for 8-10 weeks. With the compound having a relatively short half-life of 4 hours, I find it better to split the dose during the day (morning, noon, late afternoon, and night).

SARM Cycles

SARMs are diverse enough to be effectively used in all different types of cycles. The key? Choosing the right SARM or SARMs to include in your cycle, at the correct dose, for the proper length of time, and optionally combined with compatible and complimentary SARMs or other compounds. You might not get it perfect every time, but with patience and practice, you’ll soon learn how to use SARMs for your goals.

SARM Synergy

Do you know what synergy is? Here’s an official definition: “The interaction or cooperation of two or more organizations, substances, or other agents to produce a combined effect greater than the sum of their separate effects.

Steroid users have long stacked multiple steroids to benefit from their combined or different effects; in other words, compounds that have similar effects could result in multiplied results, while those with complementary effects can round out a cycle with a whole range of benefits that you could never achieve with one steroid.

The same can apply to SARMs. While we don’t have anywhere near the data and experience we do with steroid combinations, SARM users have found that combining SARMs with good synergy provides better results. But it also brings about increased side effects, depending on how potent the additional compound is.

Some of the SARMs that are known to have synergistic relationships include:

  • LGD-4033 and MK-677
  • RAD-140 and YK-11

These are just two examples. Another common strategy is to stack a dry SARM with one that promotes fat loss. This essentially creates a cutting or contest prep stack that can involve the use of dry SARMs like Ostarine, RAD-140, or S4 combined with SR-9009 or Cardarine.

Can I stack multiple SARMs?

Yes, you can stack two or more SARMs. But you must consider the possible extra positive benefits and side effects you’ll get (if any). Stacking means you’re also introducing a new set of side effects, plus amplifying any negatives that each compound shares.

One of the big ones to watch out for is suppression, which is going to worsen with each suppressive SARM you include in the stack. So, while stacking SARMs using lower doses than you might use if taking just a single SARM, you could still end up with the same side effect risks!

This is the key: Randomly stacking any SARMs you get your hands on with the view that “more is better” will almost certainly lead to disappointment. Stacking SARMs should be carefully thought out. The synergy between different SARMs, as I talked about above, is what will make or break your cycle.

There is zero point in taking two SARMs with the same or similar mechanism of action; you may as well take a higher dose of one SARM. Synergy involves combining SARMs that take a different path to bring results with reduced side effects.

The good news is that there are people out there stacking SARMs who are sharing their experiences. Learn from them, and consider their combinations rather than creating your own. YK-11 and MK-677 are particularly synergistic with a bunch of other SARMs, so consider using either of those as part of your stack, and you’ll be off to a good start.

Can I stack steroids with SARMs?

Do you have experience with steroids and are now considering whether adding one or more SARMs to the stack could give you a unique advantage? While it is tempting, it’s recommended NOT to stack SARMs with most steroids.

Oral steroids, in particular, shouldn’t be stacked with SARMs. There can be one exception here: YK-11 can potentially work well with some oral steroids. Using potent steroids doesn’t leave room for SARM benefits to have much noticeable effect.

Injectable testosterone is probably the only one that I’d ever consider worth stacking SARMs with. But even if you want to stack with testosterone, you wouldn’t want your testosterone dose to be much more than 250mg weekly, and that’s considered a low TRT level dose.

But why such a low testosterone dose? Because the SHBG binding affinity with SARMs is usually much higher, and this causes a significant increase in free testosterone. The result? Increased androgenic and estrogenic side effects – precisely the things you hope to avoid by using SARMs.

Bulking Cycles

Bodybuilders will prioritize bulking (gaining size and muscle) on a SARMs cycle. Effective cycles can be put together whether you’re running your very first cycle or if you’re the most advanced user looking for hardcore results. Here are a few examples of bulking cycles to get you going:

Beginner

A basic but very effective beginner bulking cycle involves using just one SARM. Ligandrol is an excellent choice for two reasons:

  • It will allow an exceptional transformation of your body
  • Side effects will be minimal

Also, you might be able to get away with no PCT after this cycle. But have a SERM ready to use, just in case. I’ve included the SERM in this cycle because I’d rather be safe than sorry, and as a beginner, you won’t necessarily be aware of whether you should PCT or not. So why not just do it and avoid low testosterone complications?

So, on to the cycle… A simple 8-week cycle of Ligandrol at 5mg/day will have a beginner making some very nice gains (remembering it’s always easier to gain in your first cycles).

An alternative beginner cycle could make use of two compounds: Ostarine (20mg daily) and Ibutamoren (15mg daily) for eight weeks. Ibutamoren will increase your appetite and be less suppressive than Ligandrol. Don’t forget to add those essential support supplements – NAC and fish oil are strongly recommended at a minimum.

Intermediate

More powerful and stacked compounds are used here, and you should only consider this cycle once you’ve got one or more beginner’s bulking cycles under your belt because we’re stepping up a notch here by adding Ibutamoren. This is a somewhat more potent SARM for bulking, and combined with Testolone, you’ll see increased appetite and the ability for more significant gains – if your diet supports it.

Suppression is likely here, so a testosterone base should be considered. Or, at the very least, a SERM like Clomiphene (Clomid) for weeks 5-8. Of interest is how you can use Ibutamoren as a stand-in for PCT for weeks 9-12, which will help preserve gains.

Here’s a cycle suggestion for intermediate bulking:

  • Testolone – Weeks 1-8: 10mg-15mg daily (ideally start at 10mg and increase to 15mg at week 5)
  • Ibutamoren – Weeks 1-12: 10mg daily

You’ll also want to add in some of those standard support supplements like Fish/Krill Oil, NAC, Vitamin B6, and Berberine.

Advanced

Two SARMs and a SERM can make up a simple yet very potent advanced bulking cycle. LGD-3303 and YK-11 make for a powerful bulking stack. LGD-3303 is considered by many to be THE most potent SARM for bulking.

The dosage suggestions below can be modified as you go, depending on how you respond to LGD-3303. If you tolerate it well, consider increasing the dose halfway through the cycle; otherwise, maintain a 10mg dosage, which is more than sufficient in most cases.

LGD is the primary bulking agent here, and while YK-11 won’t contribute as much to mass gaining directly, its ability to reduce myostatin makes it possible to boost your gains beyond what you could get by using LGD on its own.

For this 8-week cycle, consider these dosing suggestions:

  • LGD-3303 10-15mg daily for week 1-8
  • YK-11 5mg daily weeks 5-8 only
  • Clomiphene (or other SERM of your choice) weeks 3-10 includes PCT: 25mg daily, halved for the final week

The downside of this cycle is heavy suppression, and it’s strongly suggested that you consider testosterone injections as a TRT if you don’t want to include a SERM for most of the cycle, as I’ve listed above.

Hardcore

A hardcore bulking cycle is not for the faint-hearted! You will want a good amount of experience with different SARMs (and their side effects) before even thinking of attempting this type of extreme mass-gaining cycle. Your workout and diet are going to need to support the SARMs you’re using here. Otherwise, stick to the other cycles I’ve outlined above. The backbone of this cycle is:

MK-677 + LGD-3303 + YK-11

Then, you also add injectable testosterone and PCT with Clomiphene (Clomid) and Tamoxifen (Nolvadex). The benefits? Huge volume and muscle mass gains. The addition of injectable testosterone is to have a quality testosterone base that also helps with your joints and overall well-being.

Here’s the cycle outline:

  • LGD-3303: Week 1-8 (15mg/day for the first four weeks, 20mg/day for the next four weeks)
  • YK-11: Weeks 5-8 only (10mg/day)
  • MK-677: Weeks 1-8 (15mg/day)
  • Testosterone Enanthate / Cypionate: Weeks 1-8 (300mg/week)
  • Tamox + Clomid: Weeks 9-12 (20mg/day and 50mg/day, respectively. Halve the doses for the final week.)

Fish oil, vitamin B6, NAC, and MSM should be seriously considered as additional support supplements.

Cutting Cycles

Below are my recommended cycles for cutting and fat loss (based on your experience level). All of them are very effective at helping you burn fat, retain muscle, and boost your performance and endurance.

Beginner

A beginner cutting cycle is as simple as you can get. Being a first cycle, you can expect excellent results even with just one SARM at a low dose on a short cycle.

Ostarine for eight weeks at 20mg daily, followed by Tamoxifen for weeks 9-12 at 20mg daily (dropped to 10mg for the final week), makes it as simple as can be. The PCT portion will only be needed if you have testosterone suppression symptoms; otherwise, you can get away with no PCT on this cycle.

The two main goals of this cycle are:

  • Fat loss
  • Muscle preservation

Side effects will be minimal. Supplements to seriously consider taking are fish oil and NAC.

An alternative cutting cycle for beginners could use Andarine instead of Ostarine. If you respond well, eight weeks of Andarine at 30mg daily for the first four weeks, increased to 50mg daily for the last four weeks. This cycle will give you some extra vascularity and other aesthetical benefits over Ostarine. Consider the same optional SERM PCT as listed above for Ostarine.

Intermediate

If you see good results on a beginner cutting cycle, you’ll probably feel like stepping up, furthering your gains, and moving towards a more serious fat loss and physique-enhancing result. Testolone is an ideal compound to use in this cycle. Yes, it’s known mainly as a bulking compound, but it’s also excellent for cutting!

The key here is to maintain a low dose of just 10mg daily of Testolone for the entire 8-week cycle since significant muscle gains aren’t your priority on a cutting cycle. But you’ll see some excellent strength gains at 10mg and even a small amount of lean muscle. With a calorie-deficit diet, fat will be easier to lose, and you will be able to maintain existing muscle.

  • Testolone: 10mg daily for eight weeks
  • Tamoxifen: Week 5-7 (20mg), Week 8 (10mg)

Advanced

An advanced cutting cycle can also include just one SARM, but you can expect a much more potent effect here. S-23 is the SARM to use. It’s considered the best SARM for cutting. Why?

You’ll get a lean, vascular, and dry physique with the proper diet and training. This is the ultimate result for any cutting cycle, but you have to put in the work. Dry joints can be an issue with S-23. Adding MSM to your supplement intake can help here. Also include NAC and fish oil for support. Shutdown is likely on this cycle, so you’ll want to add a SERM or a testosterone base early on.

An 8-week cycle of S-23:

  • Week 1-4: 20mg daily
  • Week 5-8: 30mg daily
  • Week 3-10: Clomiphene 25mg daily (halve the dose in the final week)

To take things even further, another advanced cutting cycle includes the addition of YK-11 alongside S-23. In this cycle, S-23 can be run for the whole eight weeks at 20mg, while YK-11 is added to weeks 5-8 at 10mg daily. The same SERM protocol as the S23-only cycle above should be sufficient for testosterone support. The addition of YK-11 promotes an even drier look and is a cycle for the more advanced user due to increased suppression.

Hardcore

Once you’ve reached the level of hardcore, you probably feel ready to try just about anything! But hold it right there. No matter how hardcore you are, there should still be limits on how and what you stack in a SARM cycle, like there would be in a hardcore steroid cycle.

So, a hardcore cutting cycle will almost always be about trimming those last bits of stubborn fat, and you’ll look at aesthetics as your primary goal. Getting as shredded as you can be is what this cycle is all about. Whether it’s for competitive purposes or just wanting to reach your peak potential as a personal goal – a hardcore SARMs cycle requires hardcore commitment and discipline with diet and training.

You’ll be using both S-23 and Proviron in this cycle. S-23 is the primary compound here, with Proviron included in the second half to boost your vascularity, general well-being, and sexual health. A testosterone base is recommended, keeping in mind that Proviron doesn’t always play well with a SERM. Also, a SERM PCT will be required for four weeks after the cycle ends.

  • Week 1-4: S-23 20mg daily
  • Week 5-8: S-23 30mg daily
  • Week 5-8: Proviron 50mg daily
  • Week 9-12: Clomid (25mg daily) and Tamoxifen (20mg daily). Halve both doses for the final week

Strength Cycles

As you age, your natural strength starts to decrease. A SARM strength cycle can help you restore some of that strength, essentially making it an anti-aging cycle in some ways.

How old should you be ideally to get the most out of this type of cycle? At least 40 years old. By this time, testosterone is reducing, and strength is decreasing. But this cycle is also excellent for men into their 60s. It will help you regain strength, mobility, and your ability to exercise at a higher level while improving the strength of your joints and bones. You can include a simple testosterone base of DHEA in this cycle.

Here’s the cycle for weeks 1-8:

  • Ostarine 10mg/day
  • Ibutamoren 10mg/day
  • DHEA 50mg/day (weeks 5-8 only)

PCT using a SERM is recommended (Tamoxifen for weeks 9-12 at 10-20mg daily).

Proper Administration and Timing

You will buy your SARMs in either a liquid or capsule. Most companies sell liquid SARMs because it’s easier to avoid scrutiny; SARMs are not allowed to be sold for human consumption, yet capsules make it quite obvious that they’re designed for humans to take.

In either case, proper administration and timing of your SARMs doses will make a world of difference to how effective they’ll be and the results you can get! Here’s what you need to know:

When to take SARMs?

SARMs are best taken in the morning. Does it matter if you’ve eaten breakfast or not before taking your first SARM dose of the day? No, it’s not thought to make a difference whether or not your stomach is empty.

  • For SARMs with a short half-life where you need to split the dose twice or thrice daily, you’d take your first dose early in the morning.
  • Ideally, your second dose would be in the early afternoon or just before bed if a third is required.
  • If it’s a twice-daily dose, take one in the morning and the second one – late afternoon or evening works well.
  • If the SARM has a longer half-life that only requires a once-daily dose, take the entire dose first thing in the morning.

What about taking SARMs pre-workout? Some people say they feel a boost when taking their dose about 30 minutes before working out. Whether it’s a placebo effect or not, you won’t really know. But if you think you get a boost by taking your dose before a workout, it certainly can’t hurt.

How to take SARMs?

  • If you’re taking capsules, it’s the same as any other capsule or tablet type: Swallow your required dose with water.
  • Liquid SARMs are also simple to take: Shake the bottle, drop the liquid into your mouth, and swallow it.

Many SARMs have an unpleasant taste, so follow it up with water or a nice-tasting drink to get rid of the taste. There are two exceptions to this liquid administration – if you’re taking SR-9009 or SR-9011, you should hold the liquid under your tongue for a couple of minutes to absorb it. If there’s still any formula left after that time, you can spit it out and then rinse it with water.

What’s the shelf life of SARMs?

This is one aspect of SARMs for which there’s no black-and-white answer. Without the rigorous testing and compliance process that comes with approved pharmaceuticals, no official shelf life for any SARM exists. This means we have to use common sense when it comes to storage and estimated shelf life, much like you do with food. While you’re not likely to fall ill if you use SARMs outside their shelf life, they can potentially be less effective over time as they lose their potency.

Then there’s this to consider: The manufacturing process of different SARM suppliers is virtually unknown. We don’t even really know exactly what’s in each SARM product. Different ingredients and solvents are going to affect the shelf life to a degree.

As a general rule, liquid research chemical bottles that are sealed (this is important because once the bottle is opened, it will start to degrade) will have a shelf life of between one and two years as long as you store it in a cool environment. Once opened, liquid SARMs will have a shelf life of just two or three months (enough for one SARM cycle). I’ve personally used some SARMs after the bottle has been opened for six months and noticed a definite loss of potency – resulting in wasted time and effort.

What does mg/ml stand for?

Liquid SARMs are measured in mg/ml; you will see this value on every bottle. It means that every milliliter (ml) of the formula contains x amount of the SARM’s active ingredients in milligrams (mg). The bottle will also state the capacity: how much of the formula is in the bottle in ml (milliliters). You must understand these fundamental values to dose your SARMs correctly.

If your SARM bottle says 20mg/ml, this means for every ml that you extract from the bottle, you’ll get 20mg of the SARM. You then create your dose accordingly. Do you need 40mg for your dosage? You’ll take 2ml of that SARM.

On the other hand, most SARMs have a low dosage requirement, so you need only to take out minimal amounts of liquid. In the above example, if you need just 10mg, you’d only require 0.5ml from that bottle. The benefit of liquid SARMs is that they make measuring up these smaller quantities easier, so your dosage should be very accurate.

How long should I wait between cycles?

It couldn’t get any more straightforward when you calculate how long to wait between SARM cycles. Here’s the formula: Time On = Time Off.

What does this mean?

The length of your SARM cycle is the same (at a minimum) as the time off before your next cycle. You can go much longer in between, but it’s strongly recommended not to reduce your off time shorter than the cycle length because you need to recover back to your health baseline.

Some of the main areas that you need to recover are:

  • Testosterone
  • HDL and LDL cholesterol
  • Liver

Without a full recovery, your next cycle would start with at least some of the damage caused by the previous cycle, potentially putting you at risk of unnecessary complications.

How can you know if you’ve fully recovered after a cycle? Bloodwork is the surefire way. Indeed, most SARM users don’t go and get bloodwork done to determine if all levels have returned to normal. If you choose not to do bloodwork, the safest strategy is the one outlined above: “Wait at least the length of time of the cycle before starting your next cycle.”

Bloodwork

Getting regular bloodwork done becomes a part of life for some steroid users, and increasingly, SARM users are going the same way. So, do you HAVE to do bloodwork if you’re using SARMs? No, it’s not essential. But if you care about your health, you’ll do it. The main idea is to compare your vitals after a SARM cycle to your natural health baseline.

Suppose aspects related to hormones, cholesterol, cardiovascular, liver, kidneys, blood count, and other values change significantly. In that case, you’ll want to adjust your SARM cycles accordingly (or even stop using them altogether, in extreme cases). In short, without bloodwork, you’re walking in the dark. You might think you feel fine, but you will have no way of knowing what effects SARMs are having over the longer term.

First things first:

It’s essential to get bloodwork done BEFORE your very first SARM cycle. That’s how you get your perfect natural baseline of health, which will be your guide going forward. After the cycle ends, get bloodwork done again and compare. If you don’t understand the values, your healthcare provider can pinpoint any essential changes that have shown up.

Self-testing kits are also available if you prefer not to have your bloodwork done with a health service. These require taking your blood sample and sending it to a lab for evaluation. Costs will differ and may or may not be more expensive than having tests done in person at a medical facility.

These are the primary values of interest when it comes to your bloodwork:

Hormonal

All the essential hormones will be checked here. Levels of testosterone, estrogen, SHBG, and more will be of critical importance to your health. Here are the ideal ranges to be aware of:

  • Testosterone: 650-1100 ng/dl
  • Free Testosterone: 10-20 ng/dl
  • SHBG: 15-30 nmol/L
  • Luteinizing Hormone and Follicle-Stimulating Hormone: 5-10 mIU/ml (both)
  • Estradiol: 20-30 pg/ml

Lipid

This is where your cholesterol and cardiovascular health will be checked. While SARMs rarely cause cholesterol spikes like steroids do, you’ll still want to closely monitor levels (especially if cholesterol health issues run in your family). The main lipid-related bloodwork you’ll get is below, along with ideal range values:

  • Total Cholesterol: 125-200 mg/dl
  • HDL Cholesterol (good cholesterol): Over 40 mg/dl
  • LDL Cholesterol (bad cholesterol): Below 100 mg/dl
  • Triglycerides: Below 150 mg/dl

Comprehensive Metabolic Panel

Comprehensive metabolic panels (CMP) measure 14 blood substances so you can get a comprehensive view of the effect of SARMs on your chemical balance and metabolism. These are the four main tests and their ideal health ranges:

  • Creatinine: 0.9-1.3 mg/dl
  • Glucose (blood sugar): 80-90 mg/dl
  • Blood Urea Nitrogen (BUN): 5-20 mg/dl
  • AST + ALT: AST: below 40 u/l. ALT: below 56 u/l

Complete Blood Count

A complete blood count (CBC) can reveal a whole range of conditions as well as help monitor existing conditions. Abnormalities in the blood, such as levels of specific blood cells that are too high or too low, can indicate conditions ranging from infections, anemia, deficiencies, and more. Here’s what will be tested for in a complete blood count and what the ideal ranges are:

  • Red Blood Cell Count: 4.35M-5.65M per µ
  • White Blood Cell Count: 4000-10000 per µl
  • Platelet Count: 150000-450000 per µ
  • Hemoglobin: 13-18 g/dl
  • Hematocrit: 40-50%

Other Values

All of these values directly relate to specific SARMs’ effects, for example, on IGF levels or those that can cause changes to insulin sensitivity. Here are the main other types of tests you could optionally do and their ideal values, depending on which SARMs you’ve used:

  • Insulin: 25 mIU/L – 250 mIU/L depending on current diet
  • Prolactin: 5-10 ng/ml
  • IGF-1: 300-400 ng/ml (MK-677 will spike these values)
  • Growth Hormone (HGH): 8-10 ng/ml (MK-677 will spike these values)

SARMs Side Effects and How to Mitigate Them?

There’s no getting around that some SARMs WILL bring on some side effects in some people. Just like steroids, it can be an individual response. However, specific SARMs are more potent in their effects and, therefore, surprisingly harsh in their side effects.

Let’s look at how you can mitigate and even, in some cases, avoid specific types of side effects when using SARMs and other performance compounds:

Cholesterol

Similarly to anabolic steroids, one of the most severe problems you can face with SARMs is an adverse change in your cholesterol. This often means a lowering of HDL and a raising of LDL levels. And what does this mean for you? Increased risk of cardiovascular disease if left unchecked. That’s why you must take steps to maintain as healthy cholesterol levels as possible when using SARMs.

Things you can do include:

  • Eat omega-3-rich foods like oily fish, seeds, nuts, and flaxseed oil
  • Consider taking a quality omega-3 supplement
  • Avoid processed foods and other cholesterol-raising food
  • Include regular cardio workouts in your exercise program (even if you’re on a bulking cycle)
  • CoQ10 (100-200mg daily) and citrus bergamot (500mg twice daily) are other essential supplements

You can also add another compound to your cycle: Cardarine. Cardarine has known cholesterol benefits with positive effects on both LDL and HDL.

Testosterone Suppression

Although you can get away without even needing PCT with some of the milder SARMs like Andarine and Ostarine, a whole bunch of SARMs will suppress your testosterone similarly to steroids! A lot of guys don’t even realize this and come into using SARMs unprepared.

Well, I’m telling you now: be prepared, especially when using the more potent SARMs that are known to suppress. You can use a testosterone base to combat suppressive SARMs. This means using steroids, so if you want to stick with SARMs-only cycles, consider only using the milder compounds. As for a testosterone base, you can go with reliable testosterone injections in a similar way to using TRT – around 150mg weekly.

Whatever you choose to do, you will need to do PCT with any suppressive SARMs, and if you decide to inject testosterone to maintain levels during the cycle. There are a few other options for managing testosterone suppression:

HCG

Human Chorionic Gonadotropin is a useful PCT compound for steroid users. Still, it’s also possible to use it as a replacement for testosterone on a SARMs cycle at a dose of about 500iu every three days. And it should be used with an anti-estrogen like Arimistane to mitigate estrogen conversion. Note: You’ll still need PCT after including HCG in the cycle.

Oral estrogen

The lack of estrogen (which men need at very low levels) is the main reason you need a testosterone base on SARMs because SARMs don’t convert to estrogen as testosterone steroids can. Estradiol or birth control meds are often considered. HOWEVER, I DO NOT recommend oral estrogen at all. I’ve included it here because it’s something that SARM users will often come across as a suggestion, but men put themself at risk of feminization.

DHEA

DHEA can support your estrogen levels without directly taking estrogen. You can get oral and topical DHEA, but the downside is that dosing can be tricky. Everyone will be different, so experiment with dosing starting at 25mg/day and increasing as needed.

SERMs

Selective Estrogen Receptor Modulators are regularly used to kickstart testosterone function after a steroid cycle. Still, a SARM + SERM cycle involves using the SERM during your SARM cycle so your testosterone remains at an optimal level. This can often remove suppression symptoms while helping you avoid the need to do PCT.

Usually, you’ll only start the SERM if suppression signs start showing up and only when you’re using the more suppressive SARMs. This will be anywhere from week 2 to week 6 or 7, depending on the SARMS being used. But SERMs come with their harmful effects, and you should aim to limit use to no more than 6-8 weeks.

Importantly:

  • You usually do not need to continue using the SERM after stopping SARMs; stop them both simultaneously.
  • Unless symptoms (suppression) are horrible, you must continue the SERM for another week or two.

The primary SERM considered the best option for this type of strategy is Enclomiphene. If you use the more well-known SERMS like Clomid or Nolvadex, you will almost certainly still need to do PCT.

Is it a good idea to do a SERM + SARM cycle? This more advanced and experimental approach is generally not recommended for newbies. You’ll want to know what you’re doing and, ideally, have prior experience taking SERMs. It’s not without risks, but many people successfully run SERM + SARM with good results.

Hair Shedding / Hair Loss

Hair loss is not a common SARM side effect, but it is possible with some SARMs and some individuals. However, SARMs are not perfect in their selective targeting of androgen receptors. The most likely culprits to cause loss of hair are RAD-140, YK-11, and S23.

You can use products that steroid users often use to combat hair loss (just how effective they will be will depend a lot on your genetics). Keep in mind that SARMs-induced hair loss will often be temporary, unlike steroid-induced male pattern baldness, which can be permanent.

Here are some anti-hair loss options for when you’re using SARMs:

  • Finasteride: a well-known hair loss product that’s only useful if DHT is causing loss of hair. So, this often won’t work with SARMs, but it’s worth a try at low doses.
  • RU58841: This compound I’ve profiled in this guide is used specifically to combat hair loss when using SARMs.

RU-58841 is a topical product that acts as an anti-androgen and for a lot of guys, this will be the best method of preventing any loss of hair on a SARM cycle.

Liver Toxicity

You shouldn’t be complacent about the liver toxicity risks with SARMs. The liver is a fantastic organ with self-regeneration abilities, but you should still do everything possible to support it when using a SARM.

Easy actions to minimize liver damage are to avoid all alcohol and any medications that affect the liver (unless they’re essential). Standard doses of N-acetyl cysteine (NAC) or Milk Thistle supplements can provide essential liver support. But avoid milk thistle if you’re using the SERM Tamoxifen due to negative interactions between the two.

What about food?

Foods won’t magically protect your liver from damage, but eating a fiber-rich diet is known to help the liver work optimally. Foods like these are worth including in your diet for liver support:

  • Broccoli
  • Kale
  • Cabbage
  • Cauliflower

Gynecomastia (Gyno) and High Prolactin

Gyno isn’t a common SARM side effect, but guys who are sensitive can and do develop signs of gyno with some SARMs. More so, you’re at risk of gyno with SARMs if:

  • You have too much body fat
  • Your estrogen levels are too high for whatever reason

These are just risk factors for gyno; otherwise, most guys won’t run into issues, making SARMs particularly desirable over steroids.

So why would SARMs cause gyno to develop at all? Because they cause a lowering of SHBG levels, which frees up more testosterone into circulation, more testosterone means more conversion to estrogen. Once estrogen gets too high, gyno can be an end result.

So what can you do?

Just like with steroids, using an AI can help you avoid gyno. But the downside of an AI is it reduces estrogen to near or at zero. Guys need low levels of estrogen, so you don’t want to crash it completely. Tamoxifen can be a better option specifically for gyno prevention. It will stop the breast tissue from growing, or if you’ve already started getting symptoms, it will shrink any tissue growth. 10mg/day is sufficient and should be taken until your cycle ends.

This is important, though:

Don’t start the SARMs cycle if you have an existing gyno. Get rid of it first before starting any SARM cycle, or you’ll find it considerably harder to control or reverse.

Insomnia

Insomnia is a side effect that some individuals will find themselves dealing with when using SARMs. This difficulty in falling and staying asleep affects your entire health and results, so you need to address it.

Standard methods include taking Melatonin before bed (2mg dose), or you can try CBD Oil, which has gained in popularity. Up to 50mg of CBD can be used. That’s mostly for falling asleep.

If staying asleep all night is a problem, then Magnesium, Glycine, and Vitamin B6 have long been used for this problem. Some supplements contain all three; the label will provide the recommended dosage.

A note about taking melatonin:

It can decrease your testosterone levels, so only take melatonin if your SARMs cycle includes a testosterone base.

Water Retention

Not many SARMs can cause water retention, with a small number of exceptions. These include Ligandrol and Ibutamoren. A small amount of water retention is not necessarily bad, but letting it get away from you can lead to all sorts of issues. Not the least being increased blood pressure.

You can easily take steps to reduce water retention risks: Drinking more water is a simple action that you should be doing anyway. Secondly, minimize your intake of carbohydrates (especially simple or refined carbs) and sodium/salt-heavy foods. You can also take potassium daily at 200mg (total daily dose) several times per day.

Dandelion Root (500mg daily) or Hawthorn Berry (500mg daily) are natural supplements that some will find effective at combating water retention in combination with the dietary suggestions above.

Other Androgenic Side Effects

There are other androgenic-type side effects that some SARMs can cause, apart from hair loss. Acne and increased aggression are two of the more notable ones. But they will primarily only affect you if you’re susceptible already, and a massive amount of SARM users don’t experience noticeable androgenic effects at all.

Acne is rarely easy to eliminate and usually disappears after the first few weeks. Traditional acne mitigation, like plenty of water intake, clean foods, and a good skin cleaning regime, will significantly reduce outbreaks. Adding a testosterone base to your cycle can worsen acne, so if you plan to do that, increase it gradually during the first 2-3 weeks.

Increased aggression or moodiness can respond positively to supplementing with L-Theanine (200-600mg daily) and Ashwagandha or CBD if you want to go down the traditional medicine path.

Insulin Sensitivity

Ibutamoren is known for potentially causing a rise in blood sugar levels and increased insulin resistance. A simple way of reducing this risk is to give your body a break from Ibutamoren at regular intervals:

  • This could involve taking Ibutamoren for 4-5 days, then having a break of 2 days before continuing
  • Another strategy is to use it for four weeks usually, then take an entire week off to recover
  • Alternatively, a supplement like Berberine at up to 500mg can be helpful

Other supplements to consider are Chromium Picolinate, Cinnamon Bark, or Ashwagandha. Whichever supplement you choose, you must take it before a carbohydrate-rich meal to get the most incredible benefits.

Kidney Damage

Some SARMs can cause some level of kidney damage, but you might not even know it unless you get testing done. Some users experience kidney pain, and those who get tested after a cycle can find that levels of creatinine and BUN are elevated.

When SARMs are excreted through your urine, they strain the kidneys somewhat. Another issue is dehydration, which you should avoid through the simple act of drinking plenty of water!

  • Supplements like N-acetyl cysteine (Nac) are often taken for liver support anyway, and Nac will also help your kidneys.
  • Niacin is another useful kidney support supplement, following the dosage on the label. Niacin has the added benefit of supporting cholesterol health.

High Blood Pressure

While high blood pressure when using steroids is a high risk, it’s not so common with most SARMs. Water retention will primarily cause increased blood pressure on a SARM cycle. Or, more specifically: Uncontrolled water retention. Keeping water retention to a minimum will drastically reduce your risk of high blood pressure.

Lethargy, headaches, dizziness, and nosebleeds can be signs of high blood pressure. Compounds like Ibutamoren and Ligandrol are more likely to cause water retention, so follow the steps in reducing fluid retention. If symptoms persist, lower your dose right down, or stop using the SARM and/or seek medical advice. High blood pressure is something that should not be ignored!

Heart Palpitations

Heart palpitations (increased or irregular heartbeat) are a rare SARM effect that you might see mentioned by users. There’s no way of knowing whether those people have an underlying condition, such as anxiety or high blood pressure, which could cause changes to their heartbeat.

Treating these conditions should be a priority. Seek medical advice and stop using SARMs if you’re concerned about your heart health or notice any concerning changes to your heartbeat.

Dehydration

Ongoing dehydration can damage your kidneys. Some of the main signs of dehydration are:

  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue
  • Excessive thirst
  • Dry mouth
  • Brown urine

These symptoms should NOT be ignored. Dehydration is a serious health risk. Avoid dehydration by good old-fashioned drinking ample water throughout the day. Drinking a quality electrolyte formula will also help (avoid any excess added sugar). While any SARM can cause some individuals to experience dehydration, RAD-140 is particularly noted as a more common culprit.

Headaches

Headaches are a common minor side effect for a lot of people using SARMs, especially in the early stage of a cycle as your body adjusts. It can also happen due to increased blood pressure. Regular painkillers can help but generally aren’t recommended to be taken while using SARMs.

Take measures to keep your blood pressure at a normal level, and lower your SARM dose if needed to reduce headaches. If headaches persist, you might need to consider stopping the use of a particular SARM.

Dry Joints

Some SARMs are notorious for causing dry joints, especially RAD-140, S23, and YK-11, increasing your risk of injury. Fish oil or krill oil supplements are ideal to combat this issue. Glucosamine, Chondroitin, or MSM are other over-the-counter options. Ibutamoren can also be effective if you don’t mind adding another compound to your cycle. But it can bring about water retention, which comes with its issues.

Blood Thickness

If a SARM increases your red blood cell count, it causes a thickening of your blood, and this can cause high blood pressure, headaches, and other symptoms. If you leave it to worsen, it can cause serious cardiovascular issues or organ damage.

Your doctor can advise on the best action to take if you suffer from blood thickness while using SARMs. This could include aspirin or other antiplatelet therapy or anticoagulation therapy with drugs like warfarin.

SARMs vs. Steroids

When it comes to comparing anabolic androgenic steroids (AAS) to SARMs, there are some essential points of difference:

Mechanism of Action

The most vital difference between SARMs and steroids is what we can call their mechanism of action. In other words, how they work in the body to promote muscle growth, performance enhancement, fat loss, and other effects.

The difference comes down to this: SARMs’ mechanism of action is tissue-selective. Anabolic steroids’ mechanism of action is non-selective and, therefore, can affect additional areas of the body, like the prostate. Another mechanism of action involving the aromatization of testosterone into estrogen is exclusive to anabolic steroids. So, aromatization and non-selective targeting of androgen receptors result in a naturally wider range of side effects for steroids when you compare them to SARMs.

Let’s now look at other important aspects when comparing SARMs to anabolic steroids. These involve comparing the safety, administration, legality, and side effects.

Safety

SARMs have a reputation as being “safer” than anabolic steroids. But consider this: Many anabolic steroids have been in use for decades – some for more than 50 years. SARMs, by comparison, are quite new; in some cases, we have just a few years of user experience to go by.

Although you would be well aware that anabolic steroids can come with significant safety risks, both the short- and long-term side effects are well known. In other words, most steroid users know that if they stick to reasonable dosing and cycle plans as well as other best practices, there’s an element of peace of mind because you mostly know what you’re getting with steroids.

Some steroids even have medical approval, albeit usually at much lower doses than bodybuilders use. But the fact is this: Steroids are tried and tested. We can’t yet really say the same about SARMs and other research chemicals. New ones come and go, and old ones have new things discovered about them. Some are cut off from research altogether after alarming findings during studies. Yet some athletes continue to use those compounds.

So, are SARMs a safer option than anabolic steroids? After all, that’s one of their main selling points in the bodybuilding community! In reality, SARMs can not be considered safer than steroids. You should consider SARMs more dangerous than steroids until we know much more about their longer-term effects.

Legality

Anabolic steroids are firmly classed as controlled substances in the US and most Western countries. This means there are penalties for supplying and transporting steroids and, in some cases, for being caught with small amounts for personal use.

In contrast:

SARMs operate in legal gray areas throughout much of the world. While they are NOT legal to use in the professional sporting world, they are considered a research substance and that allows “researchers” to easily buy them online.

This is the catch:

There is little to no scrutiny about who is buying SARMs and how they’re being used. So, for now, you don’t have to worry about being caught with SARMs unless you’re a professional athlete or competitor who undergoes regular drug testing.

Side Effects

Perhaps the most significant appeal of SARMs is the belief that they provide most of the benefits of anabolic steroids, with little to no of the same side effects. But if you’ve used or researched SARMs at all, you will know that’s not always going to be true!

Overall though:

Most SARMs are “generally” milder than most anabolic steroids. The key word there is “most“. Some steroids are mild, while some SARMs are potent.

Theoretically, SARMS shouldn’t display much of the adverse effects of steroids because of their strict tissue selectivity. But because SARMs are not yet perfected, we can and do experience some of the unwanted side effects that you would otherwise try to avoid by not using anabolic steroids.

Here’s the catch:

Most SARMs’ side effects that we know of today are temporary and reversible. As long as you take a sufficient break in between cycles to recover fully, there’s no reason why your health shouldn’t return to a normal baseline (bloodwork will help confirm this).

RESEARCH each SARM you want to use, and take measures to mitigate each side effect as required. Remember that each SARM is unique; some will cause none of the listed sides below, while others can be quite severe in some areas. Here are the most commonly reported side effects across the spectrum of SARMs and research chemicals.

Testosterone suppression

SARMs like YK11 and S23 are noted for their suppressive qualities. Some SARMs won’t even require PCT, while the more suppressive ones require a testosterone base on the cycle and four weeks of PCT afterward. Lack of action towards testosterone suppression will lead to serious low testosterone symptoms like muscle loss, fat gain, and loss of libido (to name just a few).

Cholesterol

Some SARMs can negatively impact cholesterol levels. Suppression of HDL (good) cholesterol and an increase in LDL are always a concern. The result is a heightened risk of heart disease and stroke.

Keeping your cholesterol levels within a healthy range (or as close as possible to it) is vital on SARMs, just as it is with steroids. Eating a heart-healthy diet goes a long way, and that means including plenty of omega-3-rich foods. Also, do regular cardio workouts, even on a bulking cycle. Getting your heart pumping fast for at least 15-20 minutes will be highly beneficial to your cardiovascular health.

Liver toxicity

SARMs will never have the same level of toxicity to the liver as the most potent oral steroids do. On a SARM cycle, you can support your liver by including N-acetyl cysteine (NAC), a semi-essential amino acid. I recommend including NAC in all SARM cycles that I’ve outlined in this guide.

Androgenic effects

Hair shedding and gynecomastia are rare side effects of SARMs, potentially caused by imbalanced hormone levels (estrogen and testosterone). Rarely will these sides be at the level experienced with steroid use. Poor quality SARMs are thought to be a significant risk factor for these types of side effects.

Insomnia

Some SARMs can cause sleeping issues, including insomnia in some users. This is rare, unpredictable, and seemingly very individual-dependent.

Administration

One of the big differences between SARMs and steroids is how you take them. Steroids come in either injectables or orals. Many of the most potent steroids are injectable only. What this means for you is that if you want to use the most potent steroids, you need to get comfortable injecting. Oral steroids are popular but have significant health risks. On the other hand, SARMs require no injections, no matter which form you take them in.

SARMs cannot legally be sold for human use, which means they are primarily available in a simple liquid form. Many are now also sold as capsules, despite the fact this does put the supplier at a higher risk of seeming to be selling SARMs for human use (after all, when was the last time you knew of a scientific researcher using capsules in a lab to test chemicals?).

You might find people saying something like: “Liquid SARMs are more bioavailable than capsules.” But there’s no known evidence of this. And if there is any difference between the two, it’s going to be so small as not to be noticeable. Your diet and training program will be significantly more critical to your results than whether you take capsule or liquid SARMs.

Liquid SARMs are usually taken by drinking the required dose or, in some cases, sublingually. This means placing the SARM dose under your tongue and leaving it there for at least 15 seconds before swallowing. This allows direct absorption into the bloodstream. It’s thought sublingual administration does somewhat increase bioavailability and absorption because of the large number of arteries and blood vessels under the tongue.

With most liquid SARMs, you can choose either oral or sublingual administration. Some, such as Stenabolic, do require sublingual administration because of their naturally low bioavailability.

Anavar vs. RAD-140

Anavar is one of the more mild steroids. So mild, it’s the most commonly used steroid by females. It’s easy to take (oral) and produces significantly fewer side effects than more potent steroids.

Anavar AAS
Anavar AAS

But how does it compare to RAD-140? When it comes to benefits, they are quite similar. Anavar will give you an edge for muscle growth and overall body composition, but if strength is a primary goal, then you’ll find RAD-140 is equal or better in that regard.

And side effects? Both can be moderately suppressive, but the Anavar will generally suppress testosterone more than RAD-140. Negative cholesterol changes will be about equal on both.

If you’re a beginner to using any compounds, RAD-140 is an ideal choice. Its overall side effect profile is just easier to manage than any steroid, including the relatively mild Anavar.

Turinabol vs. RAD-140

RAD-140 and Turinabol are more similar than you might expect. Both will provide similar strength, muscle mass, and aesthetic gains.

Turinabol AAS
Turinabol AAS

Turinabol naturally comes with a higher side effect risk overall. It is noticeably more suppressive than RAD-140. Turinabol is ideal if you want a nice full-body look, while RAD-140 will give you a drier and more vascular appearance.

Turinabol is the more favorable of the two if you’re susceptible to hair loss. However, it has a higher liver toxicity effect than RAD-140. For most beginner to intermediate users who want to balance results and side effects, RAD-140 will be the more tolerable option between these two.

Winstrol vs. S-23

If you want a SARM that can provide as close to Winstrol-type results as possible, S-23 is always the one that will be recommended.

Winstrol AAS
Winstrol AAS

Just like Winstrol, S-23 will deliver a very dry, vascular physique. And both can provide similar muscle gains, depending on your diet and workout plan. If you want to get every ounce out of your results and achieve the absolute best outcome, you won’t look past Winstrol. But if avoiding steroids is your priority, then you won’t be compromising as much as you might think by going with S-23.

Both compounds will put some strain on the joints, but when it comes to suppression, it’s S-23 that is more suppressive. Personal preference between steroids and non-steroids is likely to determine your choice between the similar Winstrol or S-23.

Dianabol vs. LGD-4033

Two potent bulking compounds are Dianabol and LGD-4033. Dianabol has long-time legendary status in the anabolic steroid world, but how does LGD-4033 compare?

Dianabol AAS
Dianabol AAS

Dianabol is famed for its ability to provide super size, super fast. But a lot of it is water weight, and that’s something Dianabol users learn to deal with. LGD-4033 can blow you up in a similar way but still provide a puffy look with water – but not to the extent of Dianabol. With LGD-4033, you will mostly gain muscle, which will give LGD-4033 an advantage for many of us.

With Dianabol, you also get some of the more severe side effects. Along with fluid retention and associated high blood pressure, gyno, acne, and liver toxicity come with such a potent oral steroid.

For all but the most experienced and hardcore steroid users, LGD-4033 will provide a more pleasant and manageable experience and often more satisfying results compared to Dianabol.

Proviron vs. S-4

You could call both Proviron and S-4 relatively weak compounds. Their main benefits relate to promoting a nice, dry, lean, and vascular physique.

Proviron AAS
Proviron AAS

Cutting and contest prep cycles can benefit from either Proviron or S-4, but if you want to increase strength and muscle gains, the S-4 is the better option here. Proviron is a poor muscle builder, but on the flip side, it’s the stronger of the two in the aesthetics department.

What about the side effects between Proviron and S-4? Again, both are relatively mild in this regard as well. Few side effects can be expected here. Proviron can cause some hair loss in men who are genetically inclined. S-4 comes with a unique potential side effect involving a temporary change to vision, which should subside on stopping use.

Suppression can happen with both S-4 and Proviron, but it should be mild. Some users find Proviron’s reduced short-term suppression makes it the more favorable compound to use over S-4.

Are SARMs safe?

Most SARMs and similar research chemicals have little scientific data on their safety. Only a small number of SARMs have been put through trials and studies. These chemicals come and go all the time. Some are followed through with trials and studies, but others are halted in research early on. This could be because they are not showing promise for medical use, or something was discovered to indicate that a chemical is going to pose a risk to human health.

BUT!

Even the most studied SARMs have no approval for human use (yet, or maybe ever). So, there’s zero long-term data on possible harmful effects and consequences. So this is what I’d say: If someone tells you, “SARMs are totally safe,” – run away. The fact is that you’re almost guaranteed to have some form of side effects using SARMs.

This is a critical factor to keep in mind: Even those SARMs that have been trialed in humans, doses are usually significantly lower than you’d ever take for performance. So without more evidence of the safety of short and long-term SARM use for performance purposes, it would be irresponsible to ever label them as “safe.”

SARMs exist (currently) in what we would call a legal gray zone. Technically, they are only legal to supply and purchase to researchers for legitimate scientific research into their potential use. But laws will differ between countries, so you know what applies to your home country. In the US and most Western countries, SARMs are classified as research chemicals only.

When it comes to the World Anti-Doping Agency and other professional sporting authorities around the world, SARMs are banned in the same way that anabolic steroids and all other performance-enhancing drugs are.

So why is it so easy to buy SARMs if only researchers can buy them? The main reason is that it’s virtually unregulated, and no one is tracking who’s buying and using SARMs and other research chemicals. The fact is this: Most SARMs you see for sale online will never be used for any scientific research in a lab! You know this, and the SARMs sellers know this, too. However, the sellers still need to sell their SARMs, assuming they are only used for research. Therefore, each product comes with a disclaimer of sorts stating that the SARM must only be used for research.

Needless to say, it’s dead simple to buy SARMs online for personal performance use. Will it be like that forever? We don’t know. But right now, and at least in the foreseeable future, there’s nothing on the horizon to indicate that SARMs will become more challenging to find and purchase soon.

Many SARM products aren’t what they claim to be

SARMs are not regulated products, so as a result, you run the gauntlet of risks when buying. SARMs and similar compounds outlined above can only be sold legally when labeled as a research chemical.

In a perfect world, the only people buying SARMs would be real research scientists wanting to investigate what these chemicals can do in a lab. But in the real world, we know that the vast majority of SARMs being purchased end up with athletes and bodybuilders who have no intention whatsoever of doing scientific research. The SARMs sellers know this, and as a result, we get a whole lot of shady practices that come with what is essentially an underground market:

  • Low or no quality control of the manufacturing process raises the risk of contamination.
  • They are intentionally including or substituting with other ingredients to save money and boost profits (because they know bodybuilders are unlikely to test the purity of the SARM).
  • They are purposely mislabelling products to sell at a higher cost.

This isn’t just speculation. A study by five respected health, doping, and sports medicine experts involving the purchase of SARMs online and testing found some damning results[1].

The researchers went to buy 44 SARMs from many online suppliers, the same types of suppliers that bodybuilders purchase from. They then took steps to identify the exact chemicals and the amounts of ingredients in each SARM product. This analysis led to some alarming information being discovered:

  • 48% of the products contained NO traces of SARMs at all
  • 25% significantly under-dosed compared to what was listed on the label
  • 25% contained minimal or no SARMs from the label; instead, it consisted of other SARMs and compounds like estrogen blockers

All in all, this tells us very clearly that the SARM manufacturing and retail industry is a wild west environment where you never really know what you’re going to get.

With no FDA approvals and no real regulation on the horizon for SARMs and similar compounds, manufacturers are happily going along with the freedom to sell whatever they want, labeled as SARMs. In summary, it’s buyer beware when buying SARMs from anywhere, no matter how positive a reputation any seller might appear to have.

Final Notes

I want to finish off this guide by stating very clearly: Nothing written here should be taken as medical advice or as a recommendation to use SARMs, anabolic steroids, or any other performance substances.

This is what I recommend: That you seriously think twice (no, make that three or four times) before you decide to use SARMs or any of the other compounds I’ve covered here.

And if you’ve already used one or more of them? I hope you’ll be better informed and in a more favorable position to at least use them as safely as possible. As I’ve said, no SARM or research chemical can ever be considered safe when used for performance, bodybuilding, losing weight, or any other purpose.

Remember this: Even a SARM that might be considered mild or side-effect-free to most people will still have the chance of causing issues for you. The chance is always there, no matter how small, that something unexpected could go wrong on a SARM cycle.

I’ve covered all the currently known side effects that different SARMs can cause, but you should know this: SARMs and other research chemicals are constantly being tested in different ways. New side effects and risks we had never considered can be discovered anytime.

Things are constantly evolving in the world of SARMs. So you are advised not to get complacent, and you’re certainly advised to stay up to date with any new developments for the SARMs you’re using or are considering using in the future.

Related:

— Furious Joe

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Joe Robles a.k.a Furious Joe

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Furious Joe

What I talk about here is something I've done. From anabolic steroids to SARMs to peptides and ancillary drugs, I've done it at some point in my life, and I can relate.

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