SARMs have taken the bodybuilding world by storm, despite their lack of science and controversial usage. The potential to pack on muscle fast or maintain it while you’re cutting has been a big factor in making it as popular as it has become. But how do SARMs work and are they even safe?
Here is everything you need to know about how SARMs work and whether you should consider taking them.
What Are SARMs?
Selective androgen receptor modulators, otherwise known as SARMs, are new compounds out on the market that is meant to mimic the usage of steroids, without the negative effects of steroids. They work by binding to specific tissues, in this case, the androgen receptors that exist in the sexual organs, prostate, and even muscles, and tell the body to produce more testosterone.
The only problem is that when the body produces too much testosterone, which then converts into dihydrotestosterone, it can start to produce estrogen. While the male body does need estrogen to function properly, too much estrogen can lead to issues like gynecomastia.
History of SARMs
SARMs became relevant in the 90s when looking for ways to treat those with prostate cancer. One compound tested produced little results for prostate cancer, but remarkable results when it comes to muscle growth and the prevention of muscle waste. The only problem was that this SARM was still steroidal and could cause the adverse effects that are associated with steroid use.
Later on, the product was refined to come out to be the first SARM that was non-steroidal, that being Ostarine. Ostarine is currently going through trials to consider it as a treatment for muscle-waisting diseases like osteoporosis and Alzheimer’s. Only in the last 10 years has there been an uptick in personal usage.
What Are the Benefits of SARMs?
Right now, all benefits from SARMs are anecdotal. There are still studies going on to justify whether SARMs actually do what users have said they do. Because there are still studies, the FDA has not approved SARMs for human consumption.
One of the most talked-about benefits of SARMs is their ability to help with body muscle building and preventing muscle wasting. Muscle building refers to when you’re in a bulking phase and want to put on more lean muscle mass.
Preventing muscle wasting refers to those that are currently in the middle of a cutting phase. A cutting phase means you’re trying to cut out excess body fat while maintaining lean muscle mass.
There are a group of compounds that get grouped into the SARMs categories but are not SARMs. Those would be Ibutamoren and Cardarine. Both work as a selective tissue modulator, but they don’t target the androgen receptors as SARMs do.
What Are the Different Types of SARMs?
Each SARM available has a different effect and potency. If you’ve never taken a SARM before, you should start with Ostarine, as it is the most basic of basic when it comes to SARMs.
Certain SARMs can be suppressive to your testosterone levels in the long term and you should take a post-cycle therapy (PCT) supplement afterward. These will be labeled accordingly.
There will also be mention of the half-life of the compounds. The half-life refers to how long it takes the body to break down the compound into half of the original potency.
For instance, if you take an Advil of 200 milligrams, in two hours (Advil’s half-life) only 100 milligrams will remain in the body. After another two hours, only 50 milligrams will remain, and so on and so forth until the body has eliminated it.
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Ostarine is the go-to when it comes to those that want to experiment with SARMs. If it has been tested and the source is true, the Ostarine substance itself should not be steroidal, but produce the same effects. Most individuals will anecdotally take it while they’re in a cutting phase.
Those that do take Ostarine will take it in six to ten-week cycles. For beginners, it is said that you should only take around 10 to 15 milligrams once a day. For more advanced users, that dosage can go upwards of 25 milligrams a day.
The half-life of Ostarine is around 24 hours. That means you should really only be taking it once a day, preferably at night. Your body tends to produce the most amount of testosterone naturally while you’re asleep.
Because of the sketchy nature of poor companies, you should take a PCT after taking Ostarine, just to be on the safe side. Often, companies will put the steroidal version of Ostarine in their product, leading to adverse effects.
Ligandrol is a more powerful variant of Ostarine and tends to accomplish the same aspect, just quicker. Those that have started a bulking cycle have also tended to start a cycle of Ligandrol at the same time.
Because of the ultra-high potency of Ligandrol to Ostarine, the anecdotal dosage is only around 1 milligram. Those taking that little have still noted significant results when it comes to putting on muscle mass. Do note that you need to be in a caloric surplus and training regularly to see quality lean muscle put on.
Cycles of LGD-4033 start with three weeks and can go up to eight weeks. Though it is not recommended to go above this because of the suppressive effects of Ligandrol. You should take a PCT during or right after taking this compound.
The half-life is anywhere between 24 hours to 36 hours, so you should only take Ligandrol once a day. Following the same routine as Ostarine, you should aim to take it at night for optimal results.
Testolone (RAD-140 or Radarine)
Testolone is another extremely powerful SARM that should be used with caution. It is still new to the market and there have been very few studies done to verify the claims made on the SARM.
It is said to be just as potent if not more potent than Ligandrol. Though there are still studies needed to verify if that is true or not. This can make Testolone appealing for those that are looking to increase muscle mass while on a bulking cycle.
Those looking to take Radarine should aim for around 4 to 12 milligrams a day. The cycle should be kept short and only aim for four to six weeks.
The half-life on RAD-140 is still being determined, with conflicting studies saying anywhere between one to two and a half days. Try to stick with just one dosage first thing in the morning to determine how you feel about it.
YK-11 is still so new, that there hasn’t been a true name associated with it yet. Rather than focusing on androgen receptors like the rest of the SARMs, YK-11 is meant to help the body decrease myostatin.
Myostatin is a natural compound that the body release that can negatively impact muscle growth. The more myostatin your body produces, the more likely it is to limit the number of muscle gains you make. YK-11 also seems to have the potential to boost follistatin which can help with muscle growth, though there need to be more studies done to confirm this.
The standard dosage of YK-11 taken by users seems to be around 5 milligrams twice a day for four weeks. That is because the half-life for this compound seems to only be around 6 to 12 hours, depending on the study.
At the time of writing, Andarine has no studies conducted on it and only has the support of the community to support the claims they make. It is meant to work similarly to Ostarine when it comes to preserving muscle while in the middle of a cutting phase.
Because it preserves muscle mass and lean muscle mass is one of the best ways to increase metabolism, it helps you get to your goal weight that much faster.
The current thought process is to take 25 milligrams of S4 twice a day for four to eight weeks. The twice-a-day dosage is because the half-life of Andarine is only four hours.
Selective Tissue Modulators That Are Not SARMs
There is also the category of compounds that typically gets grouped into SARMs, but are entirely different. The two major ones that most people talk about are Cardarine and Ibutamoren.
Ibutamoren is actually an agonist of the growth hormone secretagogue receptor. This receptor is responsible for managing our growth hormone and IGF-1 levels. Because of its non-androgenic use, most individuals will stack Ibutamoren with a SARM for optimal results.
If you’re taking MK-667, you should look to take it for a longer period of time compared to SARMs. The average dosage reported by users is around 25 milligrams daily for around 8 to 12 weeks.
Your body produces the most IGF-1 during the night, making Ibutamoren another good option to take before bed. The half-life of Ibutamoren is 24 hours.
Cardarine is an agonist of the peroxisome proliferator-activated receptors that are responsible for the regulation of cellular development and metabolism. Those that are on a cut often stack Cardarine and Ostarine together, because of their dual effects of helping the body lose weight.
Cardarine is meant to work by allowing the body to uptake and utilize your energy sources (fats and carbs) more effectively. Though this still needs research done to back the claims.
For those looking to take GW-501516, the current user dosage is 14 milligrams a day for 4 to 12 weeks, depending on how long your cutting cycle is. You should only need to take it once a day, as the half-life for Cardarine is 24 hours.
Are SARMs Safe?
The Food and Drug Administration has deemed SARMs unsafe and is not recommended for human consumption. There are two main reasons for that.
The first reason is because of sketchy companies providing inadequate ingredients. These ingredients can be worthless like snake oil or too much and fall into the steroid category. When they have the stronger steroidal versions, improper use can quickly lead to negative health effects.
The other reason why they fall onto the “do not use” list is because they’re still conducting studies to ensure the safety of the product. Relying strictly on what a fellow gym bro says can quickly lead to a bad time, so the FDA is trying to look into everything positive and negative that can happen with SARMs.
Who Should Use SARMs?
If you’re looking to put on muscle fast or preserve your muscle while cutting, you might want to consider SARMs. You should understand the risks that these compounds are not recommended for human consumption first.
Any gender can take SARMs, just with modified dosages. In fact, Ostarine is being used in trials for women that suffer from osteoporosis and how it can improve both bone density and the amount of muscle maintained.
Currently, you can not ask your doctor or physician to prescribe any type of SARM because it has not been approved by the FDA. There are limited studies going on that you could ask to participate in.
Are SARMs Legal?
SARMs are not currently legal for human consumption. The ones that you find are only for research purposes instead.
For those that are competing in sports or bodybuilding competitions, currently, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) has banned any use of the compounds at any time. It falls into the “performance-enhancing” category that can give users an unfair edge over their opponents.
If your sport or agency uses WADA standards, you should not be using these compounds.
How Do SARMs Work: Key Takeaways
So, how do SARMs work? They work with androgen receptors to tell your body to go ahead and produce more testosterone if possible. From there, the goal is to hopefully see an increase in muscle mass, whether you’re bulking or cutting.
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