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S23 SARM 101: The Bodybuilder’s Guide

Discover the benefits and side effects of S23 SARM, including dosing and cycle recommendations, stacking info, and buying options.
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Disclaimer: The following guide is based on my personal experience and does NOT promote the illegal use of PEDs.

Among SARMs, S23 is no doubt one of the more potent ones. But S23 might also be the most challenging SARM to use.

Are you someone who has heard that SARMs are a great alternative to anabolic steroids if you want to use PEDs but don’t want to deal with those notorious AAS side effects? You’re not alone. And you would be right if we were talking about many other SARMs.

But S23?

This is not a SARM for the faint-hearted. You will want to be fully prepared for what S23 can do (both the good and bad). I’m here to lay it all out for you so you’ll know exactly what you’re in for if you choose to run a cycle of S23. Let’s dive in!

What is S23?

S23 is possibly the most potent SARM created to date. It has a side effect risk profile that can make some anabolic steroids look tame by comparison. As a result of the somewhat negative view this SARM gets, it’s one of the least used and least popular ones.


S23 still has a hardcore fan base, and those who use it praise it and love the results they get. The key is this: You need to think of this SARM like a steroid when using it, and I’ll explain why in more detail throughout this guide.

History and Overview

S23 was created by GTx, Inc. (one of the biggest and most well-known SARM developers). Unfortunately, this SARM has never reached the stage of human trials, so the only scientific data that exists is a tiny amount based on rodent studies.

Bodybuilders have been using S23 long enough to know that it is one of the most potent SARMs and may very well be THE most powerful SARM of all.

Here’s something very interesting about S23:

Most SARMs are developed to potentially treat conditions like osteoporosis and muscle wasting conditions. But S23 was initially intended as a possible male contraceptive. Rodent studies showed that S23 resulted in infertility and a high rate of zero sperm in the testes of male rodents[1].

So, while human studies don’t exist, this information alone gives us a pretty good idea of what side effects you might face with S23 (more on that later). You can understand why a lot of men say they’ll never touch S23 and that you may as well use anabolic steroids instead.

Mechanism of Action

S23 is a SARM, so it works very similarly to other SARMs you might be familiar with by specifically targeting androgen receptors in muscle and bone.

Some SARMs are not particularly effective at targeting only these receptors, resulting in weak effects and/or unintended side effects. S23, on the other hand, is known to have an extremely high binding affinity and to be a complete agonist of the androgen receptor.

What does this mean?

Essentially, S23 can produce the maximum level of response from the targeted androgen receptors it binds to. This gives us a clue as to why and how S23 is so potent compared to other SARMs.

Effects of S23 (Benefits)

I’ve heard plenty of people assume that S23 is best as a bulking SARM due to its potency, but S23 is a fantastic cutting and recomp SARM because of its incredible fat-burning effects and the fact it’s what we call a dry compound.

It’s common for bodybuilders to compare S23 to steroids like Winstrol or Anavar, and you will soon see why that is. Here are the main effects and benefits you can expect to see when you’re using S23:

Fat Burning

S23 will make it easier and faster to lose fat; that’s why we use it on a cutting cycle. Without one human study, knowing precisely how or how much fat can be lost using S23 is impossible. But in a good sign, one animal study found that S23 “reduced fat mass in a dose-dependent manner.”


S23 brings about some incredible strength gains for most users, but I find it difficult to predict how much strength is possible on an S23 cycle. It tends to differ a lot between individuals, and we don’t understand all the factors about why this happens. Guys who don’t use a testosterone base will suffer in the strength department (and everywhere else).

An extremely low-calorie cutting diet and the suggestion that S23 can deplete glycogen are possible reasons for only mild strength gains for some users. But for those happy with the strength increase that S23 provides, it’s one of the best SARMs for boosting strength.

Muscle Gains

Although rarely used purely for bulking, S23 has powerful anabolic effects, making some good gains possible.

Muscle gains are typically limited on an S23 cycle mainly because most of us run on a calorie-deficit diet rather than the calorie surplus needed to make significant gains. But with the right approach, training, and diet, you can see some impressive dry lean gains that are perfect for a recomposition cycle.


S23 is quite Winstrol-like in its effects, giving you a very dry look, and with that comes increased vascularity. So many users rave about the muscle hardness and vascularity S23 brings about and how it’s often better than Winstrol’s effects.

The total lack of water retention from S23 makes it the best SARM to use if you want maximum vascularity.

Bone Mineral Density

Studies have shown that S23 can increase bone mineral density[2]. While this isn’t an effect you can notice, anything that improves bone strength will benefit you as you add more muscle to your frame.

Faster Recovery

You expect this from any anabolic compound, and S23 is no exception. It will help you recover faster after intense training, reduce that familiar muscle soreness, and have you back in the gym much sooner than usual. Turnaround times between workouts can often be reduced to as short as one day instead of three or more with the same muscle group.

S23 Dosing and Administration

With a relatively short half-life, S23 is a SARM you’ll want to take at least twice daily to maintain adequate compound levels.

Have you noticed that some other SARMs have poor bioavailability when taken orally and, in some cases, even have to be injected? You’ll be pleased to know that’s not the case with S23. This is one of the easiest and most effective SARMs to dose and administer.


There have been zero human clinical trials or studies using S23, so no recognized safe or effective doses exist for people. This has left it entirely to the bodybuilding community to determine what works well and where to limit our dose to keep side effects tolerable.

We now have a pretty good idea of a suitable dosage range for S23 for most users, but as always, start at the low end for your first cycle and prepare to be flexible in adjusting your dose up or down if you need to.

And it doesn’t stop there:

The dosages below are for S23 only. Men must use a testosterone base with S23 at TRT doses (at a minimum). 200-250mg weekly of testosterone should be part of your S23 cycle plan. This is essential!

I would never use S23 without testosterone. Even beginners must do this – otherwise, use other SARMs that don’t require TRT. Here’s a general guide to S23 bodybuilding doses for different experience levels:


10mg daily gives you an excellent introduction to S23, and even at this low dose, you can achieve a very aesthetically pleasing dry, lean, vascular look over a 6-week cycle.


20mg daily, split into two doses, will boost the positive effects – more strength, fat loss, better pumps and vascularity, and more gains. You’ll also start to deal with more severe side effects, though, like cholesterol changes (testosterone shutdown is given at just about any dose).

Alternatively, you can start a cycle at 15mg and work your way up to 20mg/day if you want to take a higher dose but are concerned about the increased sides.


I’ve seen experienced competitors do very well on 30mg of S23 daily – ideally split into three doses of 10mg each throughout the day. A testosterone base is needed to get you through the cycle.

Typically, 250mg/weekly of testosterone will do well. Some will go a little higher, but if you’re prone to hair loss, you could start seeing those side effects kick in at over 300mg of testosterone.

S23 taken at 30mg daily should have you noticing visual benefits around the 2-week mark, where the fat loss will start becoming prominent, and from there, pumps and vascularity will only increase throughout the cycle.

A crazy dose of 50mg is known to have been tried by some users, noting extreme pumps but intolerable side effects like severe headaches and liver problems.

Bioavailability, Half-life, and Cycle Length

S23 has exceptional oral bioavailability; it could be one of the most bioavailable SARMs. A study found that S23 has a massive 96% bioavailability[3]. Essentially, you’re getting almost full availability and use in the body of your entire dose. The approximate half-life of S23 is a little under 12 hours.

You should consider seriously how long you’re prepared to use S23 in a cycle. Some guys will run it for as little as four weeks. Eight weeks is my maximum recommendation, but even that will be taxing on your body, and not everyone can make it through the entire eight weeks. Running one single S23 cycle yearly is more than enough for most people.

Dosing Schedule and Administration Methods

Like every other aspect of S23, there’s no complex data about how often you should be taking it, but with a suspected half-life around the 12-hour mark, most of us will take this SARM twice per day. So, if you’re on a 20mg daily dose, split it into 2x 10mg administrations.

Capsules usually come in 10mg doses, while some 5mg are available. Splitting capsules into precise doses can be difficult, so plan if you’re buying S23 capsules to avoid splitting them.

Liquid S23 is best placed under the tongue, held there for 15 seconds, and then swallowed.

S23 SARM Cycles

With the potency of S23, you can run it as a single compound in a cycle (not including testosterone support). You will want to do this if you’re using it for the first time because it’s a full-on SARM, and you’ll want to evaluate your response. S23 works fast, meaning we can run short cycles and still get excellent results.

S23 Cycle for Men

A standard S23 cycle for men taking 15-20mg daily can be run for as little as 4 to 6 weeks with excellent results. But to use S23 without the disaster of crashed testosterone (and it will shut you down), plan for a testosterone base of at least 200mg weekly.

There are other testosterone replacement options if you don’t want to use a standard injection like Testosterone Enanthate (but it IS recommended as the best and easiest choice).

Other options for TRT on an S23 cycle include 4-andro, DHEA, or a SERM. But keep in mind that these are very unlikely to be effective enough to counter the total testosterone shutdown you’ll be dealing with on S23.

So what about those S23 results?

Results you can get with S23 will vary significantly between individuals – depending on your current physique, strength, training techniques, and what you’re trying to get out of this cycle.

  • Guys who want to take advantage of the strength gains can find themselves lifting 40 lbs and more weight just on dumbbells.
  • Muscle gains will be moderate if you’re not focused on bulking, but clean, lean gains of 6 lbs or more are possible.

I’ve spent much time seeking out the experiences and results of men who have used (or are currently using) S23. Here are just a few of the positive comments and reviews that men are sharing about S23:

  • Excellent effects and results start showing up by weeks 2-3, with significant improvements in strength resulting in a boost to how much weight you can lift. Every workout becomes better and heavier than the last, and personal records are broken regularly.
  • Many men find an S23 cycle gives better strength results than a standard testosterone steroid cycle.
  • Comparing S23 to RAD-140, some guys find that size and strength gains are better with S23.
  • Great vascularity and dry gains, which exceeded expectations, are some of the best benefits of S23 for many guys. A lot of users noted pumped and full muscles.
  • Many are comparing it to Winstrol in terms of getting that very dry, lean look.

We can’t ignore the downsides of S23, though, and it’s no surprise at all to find that lots of male users are complaining about some of the side effects or finding that S23 isn’t living up to what they expected. Here are a few of the more negative experiences I’ve discovered from male S23 users:

  • Side effects like acne and hair loss are severe in some men (but not so much in others).
  • Serious changes to cholesterol and raised liver enzymes, discovered through bloodwork, have caused alarm in some men.
  • Anger and aggression became a problem for some men on S23 (but others have been able to channel it into the gym and not allow it to affect regular life).

S23 Cycle for Women

Very few anecdotes and experiences are shared by female users of S23. This is a SARM that is just not often used by women.


Most females who want to use PEDs for contest prep, cutting, or recomp will look at Anavar. It’s a well-tolerated steroid by females and can often be used with no side effects.

Theoretically, if a female uses S23, there should be no androgenic side effects due to S23’s ability to target muscle and bone receptors tightly.

We can’t totally rule out potential androgenic-type side effects for female S23 users, though – and this may be dosage-dependent. Poor quality S23 will also play havoc with unexpected side effects.

Results that women can expect from S23 will be almost identical to those of men:

  • Great vascularity and dry lean gains
  • Fat loss
  • Quick recovery
  • More strength

A simple S23 cycle for women would be a 6-week cycle at 10mg per day, split into two daily doses.

S23 vs. Other PEDs

S23 is powerful enough to compare it to real anabolic steroids. I specifically want to line it up against some of the most popular and legendary cutting steroids like Winstrol and Anavar.

It’s also worth comparing S23 to some other SARMs because I frequently see people asking whether “S23 or RAD-140 is better“, but the answer isn’t always black and white.

Whichever compounds you’re looking to compare, it all comes down to knowing what YOUR goals are and exactly what you’re setting out to achieve with a cycle.

S23 vs. Winstrol

It’s common to hear people say that S23 is a better PED to use than Winstrol simply because the results can be nearly identical, and it causes fewer side effects.

Winstrol AAS
Winstrol AAS

This won’t be everyone’s experience, but there’s no doubt that S23 is one of the rare SARMs that we can realistically compare to a hugely popular and effective steroid like Winstrol!

Winstrol is notorious for drying out the joints and causing some severe joint pain. Some S23 users find this SARM does the same thing, but not usually as bad as Winstrol.

Opinions differ wildly, but a good number of S23 users with background experience with Winstrol confidently state that S23 is MORE potent than Winstrol in its effects and side effects.

S23 vs. Anavar

Anavar is also an anabolic steroid, but S23 is a lot stronger than it and, without a doubt, comes with worse side effects than Anavar.

Anavar AAS
Anavar AAS

So you’ll still find a lot of men saying that Anavar is the superior compound to use for cutting or recomp. And Anavar is a steroid preferred by women above all others. Anavar is a more tolerable and manageable PED overall and doesn’t tend to take such a toll on the body as S23 does.

The fact that Anavar has been used for so long and is thought of as a relatively safe steroid, while S23 is more of a newer unknown, makes the decision easy for a lot of people – they go with Anavar for peace of mind. As for results, Anavar can give you the same (possibly better) strength gains, as well as muscle hardening and vascularity.

Men can typically also run an Anavar cycle with a reduced testosterone base compared to S23. Anavar causes less testosterone suppression compared to S23, and this can often be the deciding factor when you’re choosing between these two PEDs.

S23 vs. RAD-140

RAD-140 is the better choice if building pure size is your priority, as it’s considered a bulking SARM.


RAD-140 and S23 are dry compounds, so any gains will be dry, with no concern for water retention as a side effect. I find the strength gains of RAD-140 can be superior, and muscle fullness is better. If a shredded look is what you’re after, S23 is the better option. RAD-140 is more convenient to take – its half-life makes it suitable for a once-daily administration vs. 2-3 times per day for S23.

Then there’s the issue of suppression: As it’s essentially a male contraceptive, S23 will shut you down harder than RAD-140 ever could. Some guys can use RAD at lower doses and get away without PCT, but that’s not possible with S23. While a testosterone base is not essential with RAD (although it can help enhance strength and endurance), you need the testosterone base with S23.

Stacking S23

Make no mistake: you can and will get fantastic results using S23 on its own. Most experienced bodybuilders run S23 cycles with nothing else except a testosterone base with fantastic results. Stacking S23 can not only multiply its effects but also introduce some different benefits into a cycle.

Although there are people stacking S23 with other SARMs, this doesn’t result in the kind of synergy that you usually want to aim for when stacking. That’s because all SARMs have the same mechanism of action and are all targeting the same androgen receptors. For that reason, I don’t recommend stacking S23 with any other SARM.

There are a few other compounds you can think about stacking S23 with, and these will be PEDs that mainly offer some supportive benefits.

S23 + Cardarine (Recomp Stack)

Cardarine’s big boost to endurance will also boost the strength effects of S23, taking your recomp or cutting workouts up a few more levels. But perhaps the biggest reason to include Cardarine is for its cholesterol-supportive effects. With S23 posing a high cholesterol risk, Cardarine can help offset some of these side effects (to a degree) while also providing additional performance benefits.


  • Big endurance boost
  • Strength increase
  • Dry lean gains with muscle hardness and vascularity
  • Some cholesterol support from Cardarine
  • Fat loss and muscle preservation while dieting


  • S23: 10-20mg/day
  • Cardarine: 10mg daily
  • Testosterone: 200mg/week
  • Cycle length: 6-8 weeks

Possible Side Effects

  • Cardarine has a known cancer risk
  • Testosterone suppression
  • Joint pain
  • Hair shedding


With the increased endurance effects of Cardarine, you can lose more body fat on this stack than with S23 alone. Cardarine will also help preserve muscle in a calorie deficit. S23 will ensure your gains are dry, and vascularity will be impressive.


A full PCT is required due to the total suppression caused by S23: Nolvadex 20mg for three weeks and 10mg for week 4.

S23 + MK677 (Recomp Stack)

MK677 is not a SARM, so it can have some good synergy with S23. Again, you will want experience with both these PEDs separately before combining them into this advanced stack. A testosterone base will be needed to counter the shutdown caused by S23.


  • Muscle growth and muscle preservation
  • Increased strength
  • MK677 may help offset some of the joint pain caused by S23
  • Fat loss
  • Fast recovery
  • Vascularity
  • Improved sleep


  • MK-677: 15mg/day
  • S23: 10mg-20mg/day
  • Testosterone: 200mg/week while using S23
  • Cycle length: 6 weeks S23, MK677 can be extended to 12-16 weeks

Possible Side Effects

  • Testosterone shutdown
  • Cholesterol and blood pressure increase
  • Hair shedding, acne
  • Increased appetite
  • Liver toxicity
  • Anger
  • Joint pain
  • Headaches
  • Some water retention (MK677)


  • As long as you’re not doing an extreme calorie deficit, the increase in appetite from MK677 should be tolerable if the dose is kept moderate.
  • MK677 provides increased support to the joints, which may help minimize the notorious joint pain caused by S23.
  • Sleep and recovery will be enhanced with the addition of MK677.

S23’s primary effects of a dry, shredded physique may be a little less pronounced – with MK677 potentially causing some water retention – but an increase in overall size and strength counters this.


MK677 is often used as part of PCT but is unlikely to be strong enough to get your testosterone back to normal. Therefore, a SERM PCT is still needed: Nolvadex 20mg for the first three weeks and 10mg for week 4.


S23 is a highly suppressive SARM. It’s a very unique SARM in that it’s designed as a contraceptive for men. So that’s exactly what you get: a complete shutdown of testicular function even at the lower dosage range. Both LH and FSH will be shut down when using S23.

So, it goes without saying: PCT is essential after a S23 cycle. And I can’t stress enough that you really should not be using it without a testosterone base!

What about a SERM base instead, you ask? We can often use a SERM like Nolvadex for testosterone support on-cycle with other suppressive SARMs, but a SERM is not strong enough for use with S23.

Some will also go a step further and use HCG on a S23 cycle, similar to that with steroid cycles. This can make your actual PCT easier and quicker to do and will simplify it.

If you’ve used HCG while running S23? Then, a simple Nolvadex PCT for four weeks at 20mg for the first three weeks and 10mg for the final week should have your testosterone function back on track.

For a much more detailed look at SARMs PCT, make sure you check out my in-depth guide: Post Cycle Therapy 101

S23 Side Effects

S23 is a potent SARM, so that you can expect some consequential side effects. Plenty of people will avoid S23 for these reasons alone. Then there’s this: S23 was designed to shut you down (as a male). So you can expect that to happen and more.

Side Effects (Men)

Here are the most critical male-related S23 side effects to prepare for:

Testosterone Suppression

S23 will drastically suppress your testosterone production, resulting in a long list of symptoms: depression, low energy, low libido, weight gain… just for starters. It’s more than possible to have a complete testosterone shut down within just one week of starting S23.

You’re guaranteed total shutdown at some point because S23 is designed to be a male contraceptive by shutting down testicular function. To avert these horrendous low testosterone side effects, you need to use a testosterone steroid (injection) while on an S23 cycle at a TRT dose of around 200-250mg per week.


S23 is capable of causing severe negative changes to cholesterol levels, including increasing LDL and reducing HDL. You’re not likely to notice this side effect, so monitoring cholesterol with regular bloodwork is highly recommended.

Hair Shedding/Thinning

Loss of hair is a big problem on S23 for some men. I’ve heard about a lot of guys starting on S23 and then cutting the cycle short or giving it up solely because of severe hair shedding. Others don’t notice losing a single hair – you won’t know until you start using this SARM.


S23 can be harsh on your liver, even to the point of bringing on jaundice in the most severe cases. But you shouldn’t be waiting for your liver health to become so bad on S23 that jaundice develops. Lower the dosage, get bloodwork, and take an on-cycle liver support like NAC (ideally twice per day for maximum support).

Change in urine color

Lots of users do change their urine color to more orange or brown. Needless to say, this is an alarming side effect if you see it, but it will almost always go back to normal after your cycle ends. This can be a sign of the taxing effect that S23 can have on your liver, so bloodwork and liver support should be a priority when you’re using S23.

Muscle Cramps

Even though S23 aids in muscle recovery, some users find the opposite effect: muscle cramping or aches at varying severity. Again, it’s not known why this happens, but upping your water intake and including a good electrolyte supplement can help alleviate or stop the cramping and muscle aches.

Joint Aches and Pain

Some users find that the joints become painful on S23, while others don’t suffer these side effects at all. A lot of S23 users who have prior experience with Winstrol will note that S23 does not cause the joint pain that Winstrol does.

This indicates individual response, dosage, diet, and perhaps most importantly, the quality of your S23 are the factors playing a role in whether you’ll suffer any joint-related pain with S23.

Blood Pressure

There are plenty of anecdotal reports of significant increases in blood pressure on an S23 cycle. This can be a result of your cholesterol levels rising too much, which S23 is more than capable of doing.


Similar to steroids, some people get bad acne on S23, while others get none, and many get something in the middle with mild to moderate acne. This happens even though S23 shouldn’t have androgenic effects; why exactly it occurs isn’t understood. You won’t know whether acne will be an issue for you on S23 until you start using it.


Anger, rage, aggression. These effects can remind us of ‘roid rage. Not all S23 users will notice these mood changes, and it’s possible in some cases that the cause is testosterone suppression – again, a good reminder of why you need to run a test base with S23.


Some users will always talk about feeling dehydrated or excessively thirsty, even when drinking lots of water. It’s not known why this happens, but possibly an increase in body temperature is occurring, and with this can come some other annoying side effects like night sweats and increased sweating.

Side Effects (Women)

With so few females using S23 and even fewer sharing their experiences, it’s not well known whether S23 could cause virilizing-type side effects in women. In any case, S23 is not recommended for female use due to its unknown effects on fertility. Any woman who does use S23 can expect most of the above side effects, especially those related to the cardiovascular system and the liver.

Where to Buy S23?

Your location will determine how easy or difficult – and how expensive – it is to buy S23. Buying S23 is generally very easy, and you will find countless online suppliers openly selling this and other SARMs.

Strictly speaking, SARMs are classified as research chemicals only, and they should only be sold by research labs. And as there is no approval for medical use for S23 anywhere in the world, it is not manufactured pharmaceutically at all.

Availability of S23

Can you imagine buying S23 online and not knowing if it’s the real deal? That’s just one of the risks we face when buying any SARM or research chemical. The best you can do is to stick with the most reputable suppliers.

With S23 not being one of the most popular or commonly used SARMs and with so many different user experience accounts out there, there may be S23 products that contain all sorts of other substances.

Suppliers will typically provide and promote the fact that their S23 has been third-party tested to confirm the purity of the formula. In these cases, the S23 will be promoted as 99.9% purity (as good as it gets). Remember that no one is checking these third-party lab tests, so it’s on you to determine whether you’re being sold what you want to buy: high-purity S23.

Liquid and capsule forms are the most commonly sold. Powder S23 is also available, but this requires you to mix and create a liquid, which is an inconvenience for most of us.

S23 can be legally bought in most countries, like every other SARM. Classed as a research chemical, suppliers operate in a gray legal area where they can sell S23 with the disclaimer that it must be used for research purposes only.

Should you be worried about getting caught purchasing or using SARMs? No, these are not like anabolic steroids that the authorities can investigate. But if you’re a competitor or athlete or any kind where you’re going to be subject to doping tests, S23 is a prohibited substance. It will be treated the same way as anabolic steroids are if you return a positive test result.

Typical Pricing

The capsule form of S23 is usually the most expensive. This is the most processed product type, and fewer suppliers carry capsules because they blur the line between a product sold for research and one sold for human consumption.

Nevertheless, if you want S23 in capsules, you won’t have any issues finding it for sale. Expect to pay $50-$70 for a bottle of 60 10mg capsules.

Liquid S23 is by far the most popular, cheapest, and easiest to take form. Typically sold in small bottles of 30ml quantity, expect to pay around $60 for a 20mg/ml concentration.

Final Thoughts

So, if you’re considering running a cycle of S23 and think you can get by without a testosterone base – think again! In fact, don’t even THINK about using this SARM without a proper base of testosterone, or you’ll be shut down quickly and severely.

If you haven’t used steroids before, this requirement can definitely come as a shock. And while you might think a SERM will do, you want to use testosterone with S23 – believe me.

S23 is capable of giving you exceptional results, but this is a SARM suited very much to the experienced user only.


— Furious Joe

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Joe Robles a.k.a Furious Joe

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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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