SARMS 101: What are SARMs & How to Use them for Bodybuilding

what are sarms

Athletes looking to take their bodybuilding gains to the  next level require the correct use of health and dietary supplements to achieve optimal muscle growth. SARMs supplements boost the naturally produced hormones like testosterone in the body to help you achieve maximum efficiency and growth. While there are many supplements in the bodybuilding world, medical experts and professional bodybuilders recommend thoroughly researching any fitness supplement before using it. Read on and learn more about SARMs and their role in bodybuilding.

What are SARMs?

SARM refers to selective androgen receptor modulators and is generally defined as a group of new generation investigational androgen receptor ligands possessing anabolic properties. These anabolic compounds are synthesized, making them more effective than the standard anabolic steroids or exogenous testosterone. They have gained much traction in bodybuilding because they function differently by binding to the body’s androgen receptors. Thus facilitating faster muscle recovery and growth.

When creating the SARMs, the researchers aimed to develop a high binding capability to the body’s androgen receptors with tissue selectivity. Ultimately copying the muscle-building effects triggered by anabolic steroids but having lesser side effects on the human body. Research studies are still ongoing to determine whether medics can use SARMs in treating the following health conditions:

  • Cachexia (muscle wasting)
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Osteoporosis
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Cancer,
  • Multiple sclerosis

Previous studies show that anabolic-androgenic steroids (AAS) can be used to treat the above conditions. However, the treatment has to be done under certain precautions, with a critical focus on the Anavar, testosterone and Deca Durabolin. The three compounds are not only FDA-approved but are used by millions globally as prescribed medication.

Many health experts and researchers believe that the selectivity of SARMs in their actions triggers fewer side effects. The key objective of selective androgen receptor modulators is inhibiting side effects caused by anabolic steroids by implementing a tissue selectivity mechanism. The side effects are androgenic, cardiovascular and estrogenic. On the contrary, there is no complete understanding of the SARMs’ tissue selectivity and transcriptional activation. Thus they can still trigger other harsh side effects linked to anabolic steroids. Bodybuilding experts consider SARMs to be the ‘safe version of steroids‘.

Different Types of Selective Androgen Receptor Modulators (SARMs)

There are various types of SARMs being sold for bodybuilding athletes. Below are the types of SARMs available for purchase on the market today:

LGD-4033 (Ligandrol)

LGD-4033 is commonly referred to as Ligandrol in the bodybuilding world and has undergone several human trials. Clinical data from human trials show that the compound can be very potent in small doses, or even 1mg daily. But there was hormonal suppression when the compound was administered in lower quantities. Most athletes prefer using LGD-4033 when bulking since it has muscle enhancement and growth capabilities.

RAD140 (Testolone)

RAD140 is considered one of the industry’s most potent selective androgen receptor modulators. RAD140 binds to the body’s androgen receptors, thus stimulating the protein cells and the muscle fibers. There have been several studies done on animals which support the potency of Testolone for muscle growth. During the studies, the test animals showed a significant increase in lean muscle. Despite being very potent, it’s also associated with many side effects, and there have been no controlled tests on human subjects in the lab to date.

S4 (Andarine)

The S4 is an investigational SARM and was developed to act as a subsidiary treatment of muscle wasting diseases. The SARM is famous for its increased strength and speedy muscle growth capabilities when consumed. Some bodybuilders have been staking the S4 with other supplements like MK-2866 and LGD-4033. While its potency might attract many, others shy away from it because of its many side effects, which include vision issues and hormonal suppression.

Are SARMs Safe?

Even though SARMs are getting a lot of popularity now, they have been in production since 1940. They were initially referred to as steroid SARMs, the derivatives of testosterone. In the 1990s, non-steroidal SARMs were introduced into the bodybuilding scene. There was little information about the effects of the nonsteroidal SARMs at that time. Many research studies are currently underway to explore the full extent of their effectiveness and effects on the body.

Since controlled lab studies haven’t been able to back up the effects of SARMs to fully satisfy the regulatory boards, they aren’t approved by the FDA.  Hence the legal gray area for human use. In 2017, FDA labeled selective androgen receptor modulators as “potentially dangerous”. The FDA warned the public against consuming the SARMs. While the FDA stated that the long-term side effects of SARMs were unknown, the compound triggered several side effects when used for a short period. The side effects of using SARMs in the short term were liver and cardiovascular complications.

Despite the stigma associated with anything not fully approved by the FDA, SARMs are widely used by pro athletes and amateur bodybuilders alike. There is a vast amount of anecdotal information available on the Internet from regular SARMs users. While everyone’s body is different and therefore hard promises of effectiveness are hard to make, SARMs are seen to be safe and effective when consumed in a moderated cycle and according to the correct dosage for your BMI.

Are SARMs Legal?

These selective androgen receptor modulators are legal to purchase in the USA for research purposes. They are currently being sold under the category of ‘research chemicals,’ since you cannot technically sell them for human athletic consumption. Hence they are only sold in liquid form. However, with its increasing usage among bodybuilding athletes, companies making compounds have started selling them in capsule forms. 

Manufacturers of SARMs face legal complications when they label the compounds as dietary supplements or health supplements for human consumption. The FDA disapproves of the companies marketing the benefits of these anabolic compounds to potential buyers. Thus most distributors market them as research chemicals for use in lab work only.  You can use them however you see fit, of course. 

The Benefits of SARMs

SARMs are all the rage in the fitness world right  now because they’re easier on the body than traditional steroids and yet more effective than not using anything at all.  Below are the key benefits associated with using SARMs, particularly for bodybuilding and muscle growth.

Increased muscle growth and strength

Bodybuilding enthusiasts and athletes looking to gain more strength and muscle growth are using SARMs for that extra edge in the gym. The compound has a muscle hypertrophy (size) effect when consumed while increasing muscle strength and density. Studies routinely show that anabolic steroids can build more muscle and increase muscle strength faster than SARMs but are known to have more complications and side effects, therefore most guys shy away from them in favor of SARMs.

In a controlled study where subjects were administered equal doses of anabolic steroids and SARMs, researchers reported the following findings:

  • Subjects who consumed anabolic steroids gained five to seven kilograms within 4 to 6 weeks.
  • Subjects who consumed the SARMs gained 1 to 1.5kg within four to six weeks.

The subjects were administered 300 to 600 grams of the two compounds for four to six weeks.

  • Facilitate loss of body fat

Every supplement used by bodybuilding athletes has to ensure there is maximum fat loss and maximum muscle growth and strength. The selective androgen receptor modulators are a practical option for individuals looking for a balanced mix of the two. When consumed, these selective modulators stimulate the body’s receptors, thus boosting lipolysis. Lipolysis plays a crucial role in burning fats. It helps the body eliminate substantial amounts of subcutaneous fat.

The body will then use the broken fat as a new energy source. Apart from the subcutaneous fat, SARMs will help your body burn any fat beneath your skin. Increasing muscle definition and toning also make the SARMs ideal for individuals suffering from muscle wasting health conditions.

  • SMEs are more socially accepted.

There are plenty of social stigmas associated with bodybuilding anabolic steroids. Luckily there is not much of a stigma regarding SARMs because they are pretty unknown to most folks.

While anabolic steroids were exceedingly prescribed to bodybuilding athletes in the 1960s, very few athletes used SARMs. Thus when the side effects of anabolic steroids became obvious, little was known or related to SARMs and they survived the mass stigmatization that followed that era. Since the general public demonizes them less, selective androgen receptor modulators have gained positive popularity compared to anabolic steroids.

  • Female athletes can use them.

The use of steroids among female athletes is very tricky, especially with the health factors involved. Anabolic steroids, for decades, have proven to have more severe side effects on females, especially the virilization effects. Female athletes can use selective androgen receptor modulators, which are more friendly to them and don’t trigger any virilization effects, which appear to make female athletes become more masculine in their physical features and affect significant mood swings.

SARMs achieve tissue selectivity and have weak androgenicity levels when used in moderate doses, hence zero virilization effects. SMEs are still undergoing more clinical studies to determine their impact. Therefore it’s highly recommended for female athletes to go for steroids which have been tested and confirmed to have zero virilization effects, like SARMs.

  • A more reliable treatment for osteoporosis

Osteoporosis is a medical condition that causes the bones of the human body to become brittle and weak. Anabolic steroids, when consumed, can increase bone mineral density (BMD), which plays an essential role in dealing with osteoporosis. When the body lacks bone mineral density, one has osteoporosis and has a significant risk of suffering from disability or fractures. SMEs can increase bone mineral density while increasing muscle growth and strength. It also improves bone mechanical strength, offering much better treatment options for individuals dealing with osteoporosis.

Possible Risks Associated with Using SARMs

The safety of SARMs is a crucial aspect of the compound that athletes must cover before they begin their fitness journey. Like other muscle-building compounds taken by athletes who want to build muscle and lose fat, there are associated risks with taking SARMs. Below are some of the side effects of taking SARMs;

  • Gynecomastia and Hair Loss

Gynecomastia is a physical condition that occurs in men or boys, where the breast glands are increased or enlarged due to an imbalance of the body’s hormones (estrogen and testosterone). The condition can affect one or both breasts. Even though theoretically, the selective androgen receptor modulators don’t induce gynecomastia since they hinder enzyme activity, some athletes using SARMs reported experiencing breast enlargement while also experiencing muscle growth and strength.

Medical experts have attributed the gynecomastia to be triggered by the compound since SARM competes with the body’s natural testosterone levels. Since SARMs have higher and much stronger bonding capabilities, they are likely to bond faster to the body’s receptors, leaving the testosterone levels to be converted into estrogen. Therefore consumption of SARMs indirectly triggers the excess production of estrogen hormones, creating a hormonal imbalance. In order to prevent possible gynecomastia and estrogenic side effects, athletes are advised to use aromatase inhibitors, like Arimistane.

  • Testosterone Levels Suppression

The selective androgen receptor modulators lower follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH). The SARM’s excessive binding capability ultimately leads to a decrease in testosterone hormone levels in the human body. The relationship between SARMs and Testosterone is worth exploring. The suppression of testosterone levels in the body varies depending on the type of SARM used by the athlete, forcing some bodybuilders to resort to PCT (post-cycle therapy). The more potent a SARM compound is, the higher the rate of testosterone suppression is.

Athletes who still take high doses of the less suppressive SARMs are still at risk of suffering from testosterone suppression. Since SARMs have short half-lives because they are administered orally, administration of PCT can be done within a few days. Anabolic acids have much longer half-lives requiring athletes to wait several weeks before issuing PCT. The most recommended PCTs for athletes using SARMs are Nolvadex or Clomid, with the latter being more potent.

  • Increased Blood Pressure

SARMs underwent trial periods, and during the first and second phases, the subjects experienced a significant decrease in the High-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol. HDL cholesterol is considered “good cholesterol”  since it helps the body eliminate the other cholesterols. Therefore, high HDL cholesterol levels are medically associated with decreased risks of heart disease and high blood pressure.

When SARMs reduce HDL cholesterol levels, users have a greater risk of hypertension. The cardiovascular strain is attributed to the oral consumption of SARMs. Oral steroids are known to harm blood lipids. Deleterious cholesterol levels can also trigger a lack of aromatization, leading to a decreased production of estrogen hormone. Estrogen hormone plays an essential role in the production of HDL cholesterol.

To deal with this SARMs side effect, athletes are advised to consume fish oil supplements or foods rich in healthy fats like olive oil, avocado and salmon. They should also engage in regular cardio during their SARM consumption period.

  • Liver Toxicity

Research studies on selective androgen receptor modulators show that it triggered the elevation of liver enzymes. Increased elevation of the ALT/AST liver enzymes indicated hepatic strain. Therefore athletes using the compound should use the TUDCA supplement to protect the liver from toxicity during cycles. TUDCA reduces damage and inflammation of the liver. It’s highly discouraged for athletes to use SARMs together with hepatotoxic oral steroids.

  • Possibly Carcinogenic

During a long-term clinical study of cardarine (GW 50156) on animals, certain SARMs caused cancerous tumors on the test subjects. The test subjects were rats who were continuously administered a high dosage of cardarine (3mg/kg) for two years, equal to 2/3 of their lifespan. However, scientists did a contrast study on humans, where humans were administered small doses of cardarine for a short period, and the results showed no development of cancerous tumors. The scientists, on the contrary, observed that cardarine had anti-inflammatory effects on the body’s pancreatic cancer cells.

The first study suggests long-term overuse of the SARMs can trigger the development of cancerous tumors. On the other hand, the second study confirms that proper short-term use will provide medicinal benefits.

  • Additional Side Effects

Apart from the above side effects, there are other possible side effects that athletes can experience when using SARMs. These possible minor side effects include:

  • Acne
  • Nausea
  • Headaches
  • Loss of libido
  • Mood swings

The possible side effects may vary from one athlete to another depending on various factors like body metabolism and additional supplements used together with the SARMs. To avoid any side effects, it’s best to seek professional consultation from your doctor and use various tips and tricks to reduce the chances of side effects.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the benefits of using SARMs by bodybuilders?

SARMs help facilitate muscle growth and strength and also reduce body fat. However, when compared to anabolic steroids, SARMs build a much smaller fraction of the body muscles, though they are much safer than anabolics. The selective androgen receptor modulators help in increasing the bone mineral density (BMD) and bone mechanical strength of the body, thus more body strength.

Can professional athletes competing at international levels use SARMs?

In 2008, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) included selective androgen receptor modulators in their list of prohibited drugs. WADA conducts frequent tests on athletes participating in various local and international games, including the Olympics. Additionally, natural bodybuilding federations test for SARMs and disqualify athletes who test positive for the compound. Hence, it’s greatly discouraged for professional athletes to use SARMs, especially when playing or participating in any tournament.

 Are selective androgen receptor modulators (SARMs) fitness supplements?

No, they are categorized under “research chemicals” because the FDA does not approve them. Companies making SARMs compounds aren’t allowed to label them as fitness supplements. Nevertheless, the SARMs offer the same benefits as anabolic steroids and other muscle-building supplements.

What are the possible side effects of using selective androgen receptor modulators?

Many anecdotal experiences and clinical studies show the possible side effects that bodybuilders and athletes can experience when using SARMs. Possible side effects include:

  • Gynecomastia (gyno)
  • Loss of libido
  • Testosterone suppression
  • Mood swings
  • Acne
  • Hair loss
  • Headaches
  • Nausea
  • Liver toxicity

The side effects vary from one athlete to another depending on the individual body’s metabolism and the additional fitness supplements used by the athlete.

Bodybuilders and other athletes looking to gain muscle growth and strength and reduce body fat speedily will be intrigued by the selective androgen receptor modulators. These nonsteroidal SARMs offer an excellent chance for athletes to achieve speedy muscle growth and strength with minimal side effects compared to anabolic steroids. Even though it’s not FDA-approved, more builders are likely to experience negative downturns, thus proving to be a more reliable replacement for anabolic steroids. As more clinical studies are being done on SARMs to determine their effects, athletes are encouraged to take the necessary precautions when using the compound.

Where to Buy SARMs

Using SARMs to achieve your bodybuilding goals can prove to be very effective. Like any other supplement or research compound in the bodybuilding industry, you need to be extra cautious of the possible side effects and learn how to buy SARMs safely online.  Explore a reputable retailer like Beyond Research to safely purchase SARM supplements and explore our website for more information on how to safely and effectively use SARMs to meet your gym goals!