Steroids are bad news bears.
I'm sorry to burst the bubble of meatheads and Russian athletes everywhere, but they just are.
-increased risk of liver damage and liver tumors…
-increased risk of tendon tears…
-psychological problems and anger issues..
-significant blood pressure increases…
Oh yes, and athletes with underlying cardiovascular abnormalities or large amounts of fight-and-flight, sympathetic nervous system stress can experience cardiovascular complications and sudden death when using anabolic steroids. There's that too.
Now I'll readily admit: if you’re trying to build muscle, fix an injury fast, recover from a workout with lightning speed or get big breakthroughs in athletic performance variables like strength or power, it’s pretty darn tempting to consider steroid use. Just ask Maria Sharapova, Tyson Gay, Lance Armstrong, Ben Johnson, Floyd Landis, Mark McGwire, Marion Jones, pretty much anybody who sprinted for Jamaica or lifted for Russia, and of course, Sylvester Stallone and Hulk Hogan (I'll admit, I'm very glad those last two guys used steroids as it made for great childhood entertainment for me).
So why are steroids so tempting for both endurance and power athletes, anti-aging enthusiasts, weekend warriors with nagging injuries that won't go away and beyond?
Anabolic-androgen steroids can increase muscle mass and strength, and they can do it very effectively and quickly – it's been proven time and time again. For example, the primary anabolic steroid hormone produced by your body is testosterone. Testosterone promotes anabolic effects that cause injury healing, muscle building, faster recovery, and (of course) the complete loss of the ability to make your own testosterone along with shrunken balls and anger issues in males and deep voices and facial hair in females.
Nonetheless, synthetic forms of testosterone are taken by athletes, anti-aging enthusiasts and exercisers all over the globe. But you should know that steroid use will slowly kill your biology, and it’s just not worth the temporary improvement of muscle growth and athletic performance if you’re in a coffin or feel like crap or break the law of any sport for which you might be competing…
Like most of these folks who use steroids, I certainly desire to improve my own recovery, drive, endurance and strength, and I also desire all the anti-aging effects of muscle as I grow older, but I'm not willing to risk the huge number of adverse health effects associated with steroids. So recently, I began looking for a safe and natural alternative to steroids for myself and for my clients, since I know there is only so much we can do, so much we can lift, so much we can supplement, and so much of our diets we can change to reach our optimal human performance.
And that's when I stumbled across SARMS. I briefly touched on SARMS in podcast #357 when I took a deep dive into maintaining muscle during long endurance events or during calorie restriction, and in this article you're going to discover what SARMS are, how SARMS work, why they're a safe and effective alternative to steroids, and how to use SARMS for everything from drive enhancement to faster recovery to muscle building to anti-aging, without spending a fortune.
Disclaimer: just like the TB-500 I wrote about a couple weeks ago, and to my dismay upon researching this article and realizing that I can't use these myself because I'm still competing, SARMS are absolutely, 100% banned by WADA and most other global sporting organization both in-competition and out-of-competition. You should NOT use this if you are competing in any such sanctioned sport as it definitely falls under the banned category of a prohibited class of anabolic agents. If you're still competing and want something legal, use BPC-157 peptides instead.
What are SARMs?
Let’s get to the big question first: What the heck are SARMs?
SARMs – or Selective Androgen Receptor Modulators – are therapeutic compounds, according to the USADA, that mimic anabolic agents. The USADA points out that the difference between the two is that SARMs have fewer androgenic properties, which permits SARMs to target tissues much more directly and reduce the host of known negative side effects experienced with steroids. Quite simply, SARMS provide the benefit of steroids without the dangerous and annoying mental and physical reactions to steroids.
Now SARMS do indeed contain androgens, which are a special kind of hormone that connect to cellular androgen receptors. The androgen receptor then creates a signal that leads to a magnified expression of particular genes, such as muscle growth genes. The fact that SARMS are a selective receptor modulator means that they both block or activate hormone receptors in different conditions, meaning they have the ability to replicate the effects of hormones in one tissue and at the same time reduce the adverse effects of synthetic steroids or hormones in other tissues.
I'm not going to geek out on the nitty-gritty science too much in this article as there is a vast wealth of information on how SARMS work on the Wiki page for SARMS, but in a nutshell (from Wiki):
“…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.
…SARMs provide the opportunity to design molecules that can be delivered orally, but that selectively target the androgen receptors in different tissues differently. The goal of research in this area is to allow a customized response: Tissues that are the target of the therapy will respond as they would to testosterone; other tissues where undesirable side-effects are produced will not.
None of the SARMs yet developed are truly selective for anabolic effects in muscle or bone tissues without producing any androgenic effects in tissues such as the prostate gland, however several non-steroidal androgens show a ratio of anabolic to androgenic effects of greater than 3:1 and up to as much as 10:1, compared to testosterone, which has a ratio of 1:1.”
Yes, you read that right…SARMS produce anabolic to androgenic effects of up to 10:1 compared to testosterone. So what's that mean exactly?
It means SARMS differ from Testosterone Cypionate products for many reasons – reasons that benefit you and your body benefit quite directly, but ultimately make them far more efficacious than testosterone, without the side effects. Testosterone Cypionate is probably a steroid you are familiar with. Testosterone Cypionate is an injection that many athletes and bodybuilders and folks pursuing anti-aging use quite frequently, and it is typically injected into the muscle for increased recovery or mass or strength.
But Testosterone Cypionate is one of the more common steroids that you probably associate with the bad side effects of steroids. Since it is an exogenous hormone getting injected intramuscularly into your body, it can alter your body’s hormonal balance and natural hormone production, and I delve into why exactly that is in this short podcast about increasing testosterone. Testosterone Cypionate has been linked to prolonged erections (which sound good in theory) but it can have a real effect on all other aspects of your daily life, including drive fluctuations, gastrointestinal disturbances, stroke, blood clots and more, and this could be why it is a Schedule III controlled substance under the Anabolic Steroids Control Act.
In contrast, SARMs do not come with these same risks or hormone imbalances. They are a more targeted treatment without the side effects (but with more benefits), they can be more powerful than traditional Testosterone Cypionate injections, they don’t have to be injected into your right butt cheek, thank you very much, and they can be taken orally from a little dropper, eliminating the risks associated with increased levels of testosterone or other exogenous hormones and steroids or steroidal precursors in your blood.
In fact, the use of SARMs has been growing exponentially because they produce the desired use and effectiveness of traditional steroids without the side effects. Take this recent article on steroids reducing the rate at which telomeres shorten, for example: “Scientists think they've found a hormone that reverses cell ageing in humans“. In the article, the steroid danazol is discussed – a steroid wrought with all the same side effects as typical steroids. But if you take a look at SARMs, like the studies here and here show, you can get a similar anti-aging effect on telomeres without the deleterious steroidal side effects.
Oh yeah, and SARMs are legal for anybody except athletes competing in sanctioned sports, unlike, any other controlled substance – so you won't get arrested crossing international borders like good ol' Rocky Balboa.
And then of course, there are all the anecdotes from the broscience forums by bodybuilders and fitness pros, who, frankly, have a host of N=1 experience with SARMs that can't be ignored, including:
- SARMs produce the same effects as testosterone injections without the estrogen conversion, man boobs and other side effects.
- Users have reported quicker recovery from injuries, increased stamina, healthier and fluid joint mobility, all without causing damage to the liver and other organs.
- Many users of SARMs will “stack SARMs” together for a targeted strength and endurance training plan (more on that later).
- No emotional roller coaster, loss of drive, withdrawal symptoms, etc. compared to steroids.
So let's take a look at some of the most popular and effective SARMs, shall we?
GW-501516: The SARMS That Burns Fat and Keeps Muscle
GW-501516, also known as “Cadarine” is touted among SARMs users as the ultimate performance enhancer. The nature of GW-501516 is that it has been linked to reversing metabolic irregularities in obese men who have been diagnosed pre-iabetic metabolic syndrome. That syndrome basically means there is too much glucose in the blood, and GW-501516 may have the potential to reverse this, serving as a potential solution for fat loss and insulin insensitivity.
Sure, we all want fat loss, but GW-501516 achieves this differently than severe calorie restriction or copious amounts of exercise, which can cause muscle loss. It’s a non-catabolic, which means GW-501516 has the potential to burn fat quickly, and it does so without negatively impacting the muscle.
Keep the muscle, burn the fat. Great idea.
GW-501516 may also attract folks who crave higher endurance and improved recovery. GW-501516 provides athlete users with an unsurpassed edge over others (which is – attention athletes who are still competing – one of the reasons why it was banned by the World Doping Association in 2009). GW-501516 has a unique ability to significantly increase VO2 max, or maximal oxygen uptake.
I know what you are thinking if you are a well-versed anabolic geek in a white lab coat: GW-501516 is not exactly a SARM. You are kind of right. It could technically be classified as more of a PPAR agonist – or peroxisome proliferator-receptor agonist – which means it plays a critical role in therapeutic instances to balance energy metabolism and inflammation. But no matter what you “classify” it as (which is a silly rabbit hole in my opinion) the fat loss and muscle preserving effects of GW-501516 are undeniable and have long been studied by the scientific and medical community.
How to Dose GW-501516
There are two things you need to know about the use of GW-501516 to increase muscle strength, endurance, and recovery. Because of its long-lasting benefits and effects, you should “pace” your oral doses (or injections if you decide to go that route, although it's not significantly superior to oral dosing) throughout the day. Typically, most users limit doses to two doses in a 24-hour cycle and an approximate daily dose is 10-20mg (split into two 5-10mg doses). When you add SARMs to your regimen, consider cost and quality. It is possible to have both together. Don’t think you have to spend hundreds of dollars on single vials, because you don’t. You can get GW501516 from SARMS Warehouse for about $55.
The second thing you need to know is that you need to remember GH-501516 is part of a regimen. So, to maximize the benefits of the SARMs you take, you can combine the best ones. And GH-501516 works best when combined with the next SARMs covered here: SR9009.
SR9009: Exercise in a Bottle
SR9009 is a rather new SARM, called a “Stenabolic”, or a Rev-ErbA ligand. If Stenabolic sounds strange to you, it is because it is a chemical we have never seen before, and in its short life of discovery so far, it has already been praised as “exercise in a bottle.” Stenabolics offer users a wealth of physical benefits and users report increased endurance, increased fat loss, and a list of health and wellness benefits.
A study with mice discovered that SR9009 promotes lean muscle mass improvements, while significantly boosting performance. In this study, the researchers discovered that the mice with SR9009 could run as much as 50% faster and for longer periods of time.
SR9009 was developed by Dr. Thomas Burris at Scripps Research Institute. Like GW501516, it has a unique ability to promote weight loss and curb increased glucose levels. The best part about this unique product is that you can experience the benefits of working out without working out. Of course, working out improves the performance of SR9009, and I in no way condone putting dropping a dropperful of some liquid in your mouth each morning so you can skip the gym. But this feature is indeed great for those who can’t work out for medical reasons, people who are stuck at desk jobs all day, and maybe even the days you yourself are on vacation and don’t make it to the gym as often as you should.
How to Dose SR9009
SR9009 can be taken orally, just like the other SARMs. SR9009 is best when you consume about 30mg to 40mg per day. It is recommended to split the 30mg into 6 single doses, which you can take every two to four hours. And finally, don’t trust labs and suppliers that cannot prove that the SR9009 you need for your workout is not shipped in from overseas, as SARMs can be tainted with plenty of nasty additives, or steroids. Do your research on sourcing before you buy, as this stuff is notoriously tainted.
LGD4033 Treats Muscle Wasting & Enhances Muscle Gain
The third SARM you can take solo or add to an entire regime of SARMs, including the other two SARMs above, is LGD4033. It was developed to treat muscle wasting often associated with cancer, as well as age-related muscle-loss. It’s said to be similar to testosterone with the therapeutic benefits, but safer to use than testosterone. Several research trials show that use of LGD4033 increases lean body mass while decreasing body fat. It has the potential to offer healing, increase strength, and it is one of the better known SARMs for increasing drive, erections and sex drive.
How to Dose LDG4033
The recommended dosing range for LGD4033 is between 5mg and 10mg. Most users recommend starting at 5mg per day and increased dose 2mg every week to two weeks, and to cycle on for four weeks, then cycle off for two to four weeks. LGD4033 has a half-life of 24-36 hours, so you'll maintain stable blood levels throughout the cycle no matter what time of day you take it.
SARMs are not steroids.
Steroids have their benefits, yes, but the fall can be brutal on your psychological and physical health. Steroids have been linked to enhanced performance and providing athletes with a competitive edge but there are just a few major things wrong with them: they are banned, they have huge negative side effects, and in many cases, the damage caused by steroids are irreversible, including:
- Increased irritability and emotional imbalances
- High toxicity levels, resulting in liver damage and multi-organ failures and damage
- Reduced fertility
- Reverse anorexia
- Increased instances of cardiovascular diseases
- Increased body hair growth, or baldness
- Full body acne
Plus, steroids are illegal, and you are not a criminal…are you?
In contrast, the risks associated with using SARMs are minimal when compared to anabolic steroid use. With proper dosing, these risks can be avoided, too. The side effects reported with excessive SARMs use, overdosing on SARMs, or taking all year long with no breaks (remember, go about 4 weeks on and 2-4 weeks off) include:
- Premature baldness, if you are susceptible to baldness because it’s present on your mother’s side of the family
- Infertility in women
That's why it is important to note that the side effects are often associated with prolong use, often longer than 4 weeks at a time. So regulate your SARMs intake, and stick to the appropriate dosing schedule and SARMs cycle (good recommendations here) to avoid such reactions.
So that's it. Be careful, but if you're not competing in a sanctioned sport (check GlobalDRO.com if you are unsure) SARMs are a safe, potent and effective alternative to ‘roids. Sure, the Russian Olympians and Jamaican Track & Field team can't use either, but if you're a recreational athlete, you want to put on some muscle, you want to burn fat faster, you need to heal up a nagging injury, you want to boost your drive, etc…
…then SARMs are worth a try, and you can simply keep a bottle in your fridge to cycle on and off throughout the year (remember to check out this article on cycling your SARMs properly).