Read this FIRST
This post is a mixed bag of thoughts on SARMs – Selective Androgen Receptor Modulator. I do not recommend supplementation with SARMs, designer steroids, prohormones, or steroids. I have personally not tried any of these substances nor do I intend to. I have, intentionally, not linked to any stores / websites selling SARMS, designer steroids, prohormones or steroids. The information posted here is solely based on information I have found from various sources, and not based on any personal experience. Needless to say I’m not a doctor, so the information posted here is not to be used as a guide on supplementation on any of the above-listed substances.
It’s not secret I have never been a fan of prohormone (nor hormone) supplementation, as a shortcut to increase muscle mass. Where I am from, it has always been illegal in this relation and although there have been plenty of opportunities to purchase this in local stores, at the gym and online, I have never taken that route. It crossed my mind when I was younger, but I ultimately decided it wasn’t for me. Today, I am glad that was the decision I took.
I could talk about this for hours, and its a completely different story than what I want to cover in today’s post, but still an important point to state, with what is to follow in this post. I do not recommend hormone, prohormone or SARM supplementation. With that being said, what is the deal with this post? If you have been following along with the news in the bodybuilding space, you probably know that prohormones have been banned. They used to be all over in the place, in many different variations. Every brand out there had their own line of prohormones, but this is not the case anymore. With prohormones out of the picture, people have been searching for the next big thing and people seem to agree this is SARMs; Selective androgen receptor modulator
Prohormones Still Being Sold?
Prohormones were banned roughly a year ago (December 2014), and SARMs started to show on the market at some point in 2013 (as far as I am aware). When the prohormone ban kicked in, the interest for SARMs seemed to take off. As you can see from the graph below (Google Trends), the interest for prohormones has basically been replaced by SARM (or SARMs), at least from a search perspective. I think it’s fair to assume the audience for these search terms are the same.
One thing to note is that, although prohormones have been banned, you can still purchase them some places. It doesn’t take a lot of searching to find online retailers that still has prohormones for sale. Some of them might be doing this legally, if they operate out of a country with lack of regulations on this aspect. Most of them probably do it illegal to clear out their inventory and simply because there still is a huge demand for over-the-counter alternatives to steroids. In the US however, they have been banned, and most vendors don’t carry them anymore. If you do see some on the shelves, its probably only a matter of time before its gone, for good.
Prohormone Alternative – SARMs
So with Prohormones gone from the market, people have turned to SARMs as the new alternative to prohormones. But what exactly is SARMs? SARM is short for Selective androgen receptor modulator. The first couple of lines from Wikipedia reads the following:
Selective androgen receptor modulators or SARMs are a novel class of androgen receptor ligands. (The name follows the terminology currently used for similar molecules targeting the estrogen receptor, “selective estrogen receptor modulators,” such as Tamoxifen.) They are intended to have the same kind of effects as androgenic drugs like anabolic steroids but be much more selective in their action, allowing them to be used for many more clinical indications than the relatively limited legitimate uses that anabolic steroids are currently approved for.
The key point here is that they give the same kind of effects as androgenic drugs like anabolic steroids but be much more selective in their action. Normal steroids and prohormones are nonselective, so they will increase the protein synthesis and optimize your muscle building efforts heavily, but being nonselective, they also come with a wide range of negative side-effects; many of which SARMs supposedly shouldn’t cause. With this in mind, it’s easy to see why the popularity of SARMs has seen such a rapid increase. There is, however, one key aspect to keep in mind here; this is mostly based on theory and not practical testing (not to mention statistical and clinical testing).
SARMs was, by accident, created for the first time around 1997 by James Dalton and Duane Miller, who were looking for ways to block testosterone from aggravating receptors in the prostate. Once discovered, pharmaceutical companies started to dig deeper and develop SARMs, but so far, none of them have made it out clinical trials, as far as I am aware. Because of this, it’s never been possible to purchase SARMs as an OTC dietary supplement; this would be a breach of FDA’s DSHEA law. They are, however, being sold several places online, usually listed as research chemicals, as a way to circumvent the law. While it might be listed as research chemicals, it’s clearly targeted at bodybuilders looking for prohormone alternatives.
So is SARMs a solid alternative to steroids and prohormones?
It depends on how you look at it, but before I go any further, I want to reiterate that I haven’t personally tested SARMs nor do I recommend them, and because of this, what is stated here is solely based on information I have been able to find on this topic.
First of all, you can get a wide range of different SARMs so the effects (and side effects) will vary depending on which SARM you use. With that being said, (some) SARMs sure does seem like a solid alternative to prohormones and “light” steroid cycles, in terms of the desired results from a muscle building and strength enhancing perspective. Needless to say that vendors naturally try to hype this stuff like the best thing since sliced bread claiming you will see results above and beyond what you can expect from any steroid or prohormone cycle, with no side effects what so ever. Now although some SARMs does seem to deliver results, there does seem to be a lot of difference in the outcome, depending on which SARM is used. Personally, I think the key points I have stumbled upon is that;
- People do report side effects
- Several users do suggest you run PCT
- Lack of scientific studies
Since the usage of SARMs in the bodybuilding space is so new and since it’s not legally sold as supplement, there is close to no scientific information on the implications of SARM supplementation.
Information Mismatch on SARMs
One of the online stores selling SARMs is stating the following on their website:
The Benefits of SARMS
SARMS is believed to have the capacity to employ the benefits of anabolic supplements while reducing the side effects of steroids.
- Non-toxic (won’t cause liver damage)
- Avoids bone loss (direct action of testosterone in bone thru the AR-mediated conduit is critical for its anabolic effects in bone)
- Decreases the threat of prostate problems in men without muscle mass loss
- Won’t impede your HPTA
- Similar effects with testosterone
- No estrogen and Dihydrotestosterone (a hydrogen hormone) conversion
For muscle builders, taking SARMS will give:
- Muscle loss prevention (during cutting period)
- Lean muscle development
- Improved strength
- Faster injury recovery
- Joint healing abilities
- PCT use following anabolics
Side Effects of SARMS
What’s great about SARMS is that its side effects are minimal, so you don’t have to worry about anything (unless taken in high doses for a long period). Running it for 4 weeks or more will likely produce these side effects:
- Testicular atrophy (a reduction in size of male reproductive organs)
- Virilization in women (development of male characteristics)
Note: Controlling SARMS consumption will truly help you in achieving the benefits of Selective Androgen Receptor Modulators while avoiding the side effects simultaneously.
When reading this, it sounds pretty good. Lots of benefits and limited side effects that only kick in after “long-term” use. I continued to search for some more information on personal experiences with SARMs and came across this thread over at Reddit. The user tropostil reported vision issues, but no further details on exactly what this is:
vision issues are a thing. go for AAS over sarms.GHRP2 / ipamorelin stacked with MOD GRF are a better choice for a beginner to PED’s than AAS IMO
Tropostil / reddit.com
The vision issue is highlighted by other users as well but no further information on what exactly the issue is. I did some more searching and came across this article over at maxim where there is a bit of information on what seems to be the “vision issue”:
One evening while driving home from work, Daniel noticed his vision had gone green—as though food coloring had been dropped onto his pupils. His eyes were hazy, unable to focus under bright lights. Despite the obvious dangers to patients he operated on, Daniel didn’t seem to worry. “It’s one of the effects recorded in trials,” he reasons. “At least I know I’m getting the real deal
The user Juicedupmonkeyman from the Reddit thread, who seemingly works at a store where they sell SARMs, posted the following:
I’m not here to answer everyone’s questions. Do 2 seconds of research. Put the names of the compounds in Google scholar and you’ll find the studies. Put in a bit of effort to research things. I’ve also posted a lot on this board and answered a lot of questions in the past. Just look through threads here on sarms. The biggest risk is getting stuff that’s adulterated with oral steroids. There is a mild effect on cholesterol as well as a temporary reduction in total test, fsh, LH and SHBG. Anecdotally sarms have helped people I know with certain types of injuries but your question is way too vague tk even say it would help and something like bpc or tb500 would work way better for rehabbing an injury.
Juicedupmonkeyman / reddit.com
The risk of SARMs being adulterated with oral steroids is definitely a possibility, as SARMs isn’t sold as supplements, who is to control what this stuff actually contains. If this is the case, you all of this sudden find yourself exposed to all the possible side effects that come with oral steroids.
WhyAtlas from the Reddit thread reports the following:
Ive been running 20mg of ostarine for about 5 weeks now.I am definitely making faster gains than before. I actually started taking 10mg a day over the course of a two week field exercise. I came back, got a solid days worth of food, got rehydrated, and ended up being 7 pounds lighter than before I left, but my 1 rep and 3 rep squat and bench were the same, and didnt feel that they were any heavier. SARMS will suppress your testosterone production. At high enough doses (>25mg for ostarine and seemingly >10mg for lgd) they can shut you down.Most say run some d aspartic acid at the end and you’ll be ok. Im going to run some nolvadex, cause I am paranoid.
WhyAtlas / reddit.com
He is not the only one in that thread to support the idea that your testosterone production is suppressed. Most of the people there do however, seem to agree that this only happen whey higher dosage than what is actually necessary in order to see significant results.
Ithrowfootballs reports a some good experiences with different kind of SARMs, with no side effects besides from some water retention:
I can give you advice since I’ve taken two types of them. Ok I started taking pro hormones and gained a lot of weight and lost probably half of it within 2 months (I took a pct). The first sarm I took was ostarine. It’s pretty good. Not gonna put on a lot of mass but I was cutting weight when I took it and I ate around maintenance and lost some body fat and gained about 5 lbs. of muscle during the month and a half. While cutting so id say it was pretty good. It was 80$ for 90 pills taking one pill per day so it was a good dealI just finished 30 days of ligandrol. I was told to take one 5-mg pill for 5 days then take two per day for the rest of the cycle. This is like ostarine x 10 on one pill a day my appetite was ridiculous. Like I wanted to eat every two hours and I was eating big meals. I was eating well over maintenance and getting cut and looking bigger and I was able to lift more. I started taking two for about two weeks and I didn’t notice any difference between one and two so I cut it back to one for the last week. I’m taking a week off then I’ll cycle back on next week and just go one per day. I’ve been able to go harder in the gym day in and day out and just felt like a monster in the gym. Idk how else to describe it. It feels great and the pumps are awesome. The only downside for me was that
I’ve been able to go harder in the gym day in and day out and just felt like a monster in the gym. Idk how else to describe it. It feels great and the pumps are awesome. The only downside for me was that ligandrol made me retain a lot of water weight. It was to the point where I almost thought I was getting fat then when I started cycling off I lost it within two days. So far it’s been very similar to when I did a prohormone except I don’t have crazy moods. Also with ligandrol you’ll keep more of the muscle after you finish the cycle.
So in conclusion: pro hormones get a lot of results quickly but in the long run they’re a waste. Ostarine is good for cutting and recomp. Ligandrol is very similar to a prohormone but less crazy emotions and safer. If you’re looking for something like steroids I don’t know for sure I’ve never done steroids. I’ve heard ligandrol is the closest thing you can get to steroids without doing actual steroids.
Ithrowfootballs / reddit.com
There are however, also a bunch of people posting in the thread who aren’t as fond of SARMs as the rest of the group. Fadetojeff states the following:
Probably not?? You mean of course not. I’ve tried them and the benefits are minimal. Price to benefit ratio is way out of whack.
zzfish1095 posted the following:
I personally found them pretty ineffective and not really much more effective than natural.
zzfish1095 / reddit.com
As you can see, the issue highlighted here is not specifically based on side effects, but more that they are ineffective and expensive.
There is another post listed here where there is more information on the vision issue, although this, according to the post, is directly related to the SARM Andarine (S4):
The biggest concern and most commonly known side effect of andarine use is the vision effects.
In short, the S4 molecule will bind to the receptor in the eye, which will cause a yellow tint to be seen in short amounts of time. This generally occurs at night, especially when switching from a dark to lightened area. The effects are not permanent, but they can cause great discomfort if the binding is more aggressive. Predicting the extent and time frame of this occurrence is generally impossible as it is variable from person to person. Some experience little to no effect even after 8-10 weeks, while others can have binding occur in as quickly as 7-10 days.
The key to avoiding or mitigating side effects from occurring is to follow the protocol that I have come up with after many years of trial-and-error. It is a dosing pattern that will help the user adapt to the molecule and allow for a far more optimal chance of completing a cycle. Read on below for the protocol
There is another post on Reddit with an answer from dustofoblivion123 that also highlights possible side effects:
There is little hard evidence available on SARM drugs, so most of what people say is anecdotal, or at best, based on inferences from a shaky understanding of the related scientific principles.
SARMs also act as ligands to the androgen receptor, but they have a much higher degree of tissue specificity. Clinically, the use of AR drugs has been limited by the plethora of adverse effects experienced due to their action upon certain androgenic tissues. So historically there has been two approaches. First, pharmaceutical companies have attempted to develop the not so selective nonsteroidal SARMs; they do not serve as substrates for the conversion of testosterone to 5α-DHT, the latter which seems to have a tissue specific amplying effect on the testosterone action upon androgenic tissues. Second, they have attempted to develop the much more selective steroidal SARMs, which interact specifically with signalling molecules lying downstream of the AR activating pathways which regulate gene expression in skeletal muscle tissue.
To my knowledge, all of the SARMs available on the black market currently belong to the first category, the nonsteroidal SARMs. However, they are not the ‘highly anabolic and side effect free’ drugs that some people like to believe. Their effect upon the AR is not comparable to that of AAS, and they are not very selective, they simply do not serves as substrates for 5α-DHT, which removes some of the adverse effects usually associated with ASS use but not all of them. Non-steroidal SARMs, just like AAS, are atherogenic, suppress gonadotropin secretion, decreases testis size, and depress spermatogenesis, amongst other things, in a dose-dependent manner.
Highly specific steroidal SARMs are an ongoing field of research and there doesn’t seem to be a single company that has managed to develop a highly anabolic steroidal SARM so far. Nonsteroidal SARMs have been studied in humans but they have yet to make it beyond the pre-clinical stage.If you want to use SARMs, fine, but don’t expect a miraculous occurrence. The increase in strength and muscular mass will still be mostly diet and training dependent, and if you use high doses, there might still be some suppression, although possibly not nearly as much as with AAS use.
dustofoblivion123 / reddit.com
Based on all the experiences I have read from various sources online, I would say the pros and cons seemingly can be broken down in the following manner.
- Good Results
- Few side effects reported
- Not liver toxic
- Lack of scientific studies
- Suppress Test
- Water retention
- Vision issues
- Research Chemical / grey zone
SARMs for Sale
When you could buy legal prohormones, there was a wide selection from almost every single brand in the industry. This was a hot topic for years after Patrick Arnold introduced the first prohormone back around 1996. People saw results and shared experiences online. There were (and are) prohormone forums with information on everything from the best prohormones on the market to prohormone side effects, prohormone stacks, best prohormone for mass and best cutting prohormones, as examples. It goes from the very basic end with detailed explanations of exactly what prohormones are and how they work, to the other end of the scale with detailed instructions on how to cycle them and what to keep in mind while doing it.
Now with the prohormone ban in place and the rise of interest in SARM “supplements”, we are seeing the exact same thing happening for this underground research chemical. You might not be able to get your doctors recommendations on which SARMs to use and how to do it, but you can find plenty of guides and instructions online, based on other peoples personal experiences.
I surely would be scared if I were to take SARMs and rely on this kind of guidance, but then again, the only alternative is to base your actions on advice from the vendor of the substances, which is likely to be more biassed and probably less based on experience.
You can buy SARMs from a range of different stores, online. You might be able to find it in some local stores as well, but probably not your local supplement store. People seem to agree that it’s only a matter of time before we see some regulation on this substance, and that you probably won’t be able to purchase it legally (OTC), in a not too distant future; even as a “research chemical”. Just like prohormones and steroids, you can get a wide range of different SARMs. They all seem to come with their own pros and cons, meaning that:
- Some are more dangerous than others
- Some will give better results than others
- Some SARMs might be a better fit for certain goals (bulking, cutting, etc.)
I can, without a doubt say that the name I have stumbled upon the most, in this research process, is Ostarine which is also referred to as MK-2866, Enobosarm and GTx-024. There are however, lots of alternatives and many of them are debated heavily on various forums. Here is a list of what seems to be the most popular ones.
- Ostarine / Enobosarm / GTx-024 / MK-2866
- Ligandrol / LGD-4033
- Andarine / S-4 / GTx-007