What are SARMs and how do they work?
Selective Androgen Receptor Modulators are a type of synthetic drug that has been developed to treat muscle-wasting symptoms of certain diseases. Due to their consistent effectiveness to significantly improve strength, in recent years they have become popular in the bodybuilding circuit with many websites selling them as “SARMs bodybuilding supplements”.
They carry substantially fewer risks than other performance-enhancing drugs – however, this does not mean they have zero risks! If you have been told this, you have been lied to, and you’ll find out more about the risks in part one.
One quick Google and you’ll read that by definition, Selective Androgen Receptor Modulators belong to a family of androgen receptor ligands with a highly selective nature.
But what does the hell does that even mean?
• Ligands are molecules that are attached to a metal atom.
• Androgens are growth hormones that help build muscle, repair tendons and breakdown fat cells (the most common being known as ‘testosterone’)
• Androgen receptors control the production of androgens.
• A highly selective nature means these ligands will attach to specific androgen receptors and not to other sites, avoiding unwanted testosterone related activity such as enlarging the prostate.
Simply put, each dose contains molecules that bind to androgen receptors and stimulate the production of androgens. Androgens are efficient at building muscle, repairing tendons and breaking down fat cells. Increasing the number of these growth hormones while avoiding unwanted action in the prostate greatly improve the body’s ability to build muscle with seemingly no life-threatening side effects… Sounds too good to be true, right? We’ll get to those risks, but some background information first…
How can a muscle be constructed faster with SARMs?
With an influx of androgens surging round the body (as well as sufficient nutrition and training), the body can readily build muscle faster.
They reduce the effects of catabolism (the breakdown of muscle) which naturally occurs during training. When used by bodybuilders, they’re reducing the rate of this breakdown of muscle and retaining the mass by promoting an anabolic state (muscle repairing).
The muscles are therefore always forced to repair without a period of being broken down.
Reading part one will give you the fundamental knowledge to help you decide if SARMs are for you – if you’re interested I have dedicated another article devoted to the science and physiology of the critical role androgens play and how they contribute to building muscle.
The TL;DR version, muscles require:
• Ample amounts of protein
• A certain level of use
Who created them?
Steroidal versions have been around since the 1940’s. Non-steroidal versions were created by independent work at Ligand Pharmaceuticals and the University of Tennessee in the 1990’s. Since their emergence, a large number of non-steroidal production is underway by major pharmaceutical companies such as Ligand Pharmaceuticals, GTx, GlasoSmithKline, Merck, Viking and even Johnson & Johnson are getting involved in the research.
Why were they created?
Selective Androgen Receptor Modulators are under development as a therapeutic compound. Formulated for those suffering from frailty and functional limitations associated with certain diseases and Sarcopenia. Their particular ability is to maintain muscle, improve physical function and bone health. With little risk of affecting the prostate and cardiovascular outcomes, they appear to be a promising therapy.
An example of their clinical use would be a male who has osteoporosis and suffers from poor mobility but has no signs of hypogonadism – he would need a SARM that targets bones and not muscular receptor cells to increase bone density.
Are SARMs safe?
Based on their ability to select and target tissue, SARMs seem to look promising as a therapeutic option for the treatment of muscle wasting over anabolic androgenic steroids. However as mentioned before, fewer risks do not mean it’s entirely risk-free. As far as our research goes, side effects are temporary and will subside unlike the long-lasting damage caused by other performance enhancing drugs.
Are SARMs legal?
In the United Kingdom, their legality is similar to steroids; they are currently legal for personal use.
However, they now fall into a legal grey area in the United States as they’re legal for research purposes with many suppliers exploiting this loophole.
They are prohibited in sport under every major governing body, and many tests exist as a result of the rise in popularity and notable athletes have been caught out – more on this later.
If they’re so good why doesn’t everyone use them?
Dietary supplements undergo extensive research and trials before approval for use. Clinical pharmacologists are still studying Selective Androgen Receptor Modulators and their effects on the body. Currently, most trials have been rat/mice studies. Although we are similar to rats regarding DNA, these studies must be taken with a pinch of salt.
Fortunately, a lot of unofficial human trials are available online – though these must be taken with an even larger, handful of salt! Each person may experience different results and featured in this guide are the findings from my research of 100 users and their reported benefits and side effects (which is featured just below).
Some websites market for bodybuilders, however, these products may be unsafe. People who buy them should ensure they have been laboratory tested and quality assured. Ensuring they are what they claim to can help prevent some nasty side effects – we’ll get to spotting good quality products in part two.
The reason for conflicting ideas in my opinion is due to the fact they haven’t passed human trials. From what I’ve read online, the concern about their long-term side effects is yet to be known. As mentioned above, Selective Androgen Receptor Modulators have been around for over 70 years with a vast amount of research freely available online, yet it seems people are quick to discard any of this.
What are the current research findings?
As mentioned, vast amounts of information exist relating to Selective Androgen Receptor Modulators and are freely available online. Most of which has been implemented into this guide to save you time. The clinical evidence correlates to them being very efficient for their intended use. However, the variety of available options should be considered when researching as they have been developed with slightly different functions and harbour different risks.
The body naturally produces androgens and the rate of which varies on an individual basis. As mentioned above, androgens play a crucial role in building skeletal muscle mass. Making the body produce more androgens can lead to an enhanced ability to create lean muscle mass, can improve bone density and rapidly break down fat cells. However, this will not guarantee more muscle mass – especially if the user has a poor diet and an infrequent training schedule.
When taken with an established diet and combined with an intense training routine, Some believe that the results are exponential (the more a user takes, the more benefits a user will experience) however, this research suggests that there is a plateau and an optimal dosage for the best results.
The most common benefits found in the survey are:
• 97% of users reported an improvement to strength
• 80% of users reported increased fat loss
If a user takes more than the optimal dosage, they expose themselves to unnecessary risks. If used responsibly, they can provide an athlete with a significant boost of strength, lean muscle and fat loss and this guide will teach you how to do exactly that.
It’s not surprising that SARMs are of interest to bodybuilder and athletes. The products are proving to be popular throughout online forums with many SARM bodybuilding forums being created dedicated to the drugs. Advice can easily be found, but many of it conflicts and won’t be relevant for the average person.
Are they as effective as steroids or prohormones?
Due to the legality of Selective Androgen Receptor Modulators, steroids and prohormones, comparing the effects are difficult outside of a clinical setting. SARMs intend to have the same kind of effects as anabolic steroids. They bind to androgen receptors and demonstrate osteo (bone) and myo (muscular) anabolic activity, but unlike steroids, they are much more selective in their action and as discussed carry fewer risks.
So, are SARMs safer than steroids?
Unlike anabolic steroids, SARMs produce no unwanted growth on the prostate and other secondary sexual organs. Comparatively speaking, they have fewer risks associated than steroids but we’ll get to the risks that SARMs carry, shortly.
As mentioned, SARMs are more selective with their actions which mean they only target specific receptors unlike steroids that are non-specific – basically, they shouldn’t mess with anything that they are not supposed to. Some are less likely to allow the binding of dihydrotestosterone (DHT) to receptor targets. DHT is a weaker androgen regarding muscle building properties but is essential for human growth. DHT is responsible for hair growth, acne and balding. In addition to this, they also seem to be resistant to the enzyme aromatase which means it’s less likely to produce unwanted estrogen – so, very little chance of manboobs!
Steroids have been known to completely shut down testosterone production which can leave people depressed and unable to build further muscle – especially older people. Depending on the quality of the product, SARMs are very unlikely to result in total shut down but won’t lead to the same incredible gains seen by steroid use. This may sound like a downside, but this makes SARMs much more manageable to deal with in terms of mood and stress on the body. You’ll be able to continually build strength over a longer period of time and maintain the levels of training.
Are they safer than prohormones?
Prohormones are c-17 alkylated which cannot be destroyed quickly by the liver, this places an enormous amount of stress on the body. SARMs, however, are not alkylated and only stimulate the production of testosterone that can be broken down by the liver.
Documented side effects
If you don’t understand SARMs side effects, you may have an unexpectedly dreadful time. I’ve seen some websites suggesting that taking 100mg of Ostarine and Andarine is a great idea… Sure, that may have worked for the person making the suggestion, but, we’re not identical.
People then wonder why they’re getting acne they haven’t seen since their high school prom, retaining water like they’ve drunk nothing but coffee for weeks and growing unwanted hair…
The biggest risk is testosterone suppression. If your body receives a massive boost of something that it should produce itself, it’ll stop producing it. 75% of users experience some level of suppression, and we have the steps to help minimize the effects which we’ll be covering in part three.
The most common side effects found in the survey were:
- 70%* of users reported vision impairment
- 41% reported an increase in water retention
- 41% reported low libido (typically libido improves during early stages of cycle)
- 37% reported an increase in acne
*Only affected those who took Andarine
Other side effects left in the comment section included headaches and restlessness. However, different types harbour different risks – more on this coming up.
Why is suppression the biggest risk?
Selective androgen receptor modulators can cause some side effects due to their ability to enhance androgen expression. Once the body receives an external signal to produce a substantial amount of something it can cause suppression because it thinks it no longer has to produce it. Some are more likely to cause suppression than others, C-6 is a particular type which is a notable example of causing suppression and is currently being investigated as a male contraceptive.
Did you require PCT?
Answered: 99 / Skipped: 01
Temporary suppression can be alleviated with the use of PCT (Post Cycle Therapy) which is covered in part four of this guide. Depending on your age, it’ll be likely that you’ll naturally recover by taking a break equal to a number of weeks you were using, e.g. after an eight-week cycle, take eight weeks off. Having Post Cycle Therapy in place should be something you at least consider before taking SARMs.