It seems like everywhere I look people are talking about SARMs or peptides. These “legal” steroid alternatives without the side effects are being hailed all over the place as the next evolution in bodybuilding and the fitness industry. But what exactly is the truth, what legal status do SARMs have in Australia, and how effective are they really? These are just some of the common questions I will answer below.
- What are SARMs?
- Legal Status of SARMs
- How are SARMs taken?
- Types of SARMs
- GW-501516 (Cardarine)
- LGD-4033 (Ligandrol)
- MK-2866 (Ostarine)
- MK-677 (Ibutamoren)
- S-4 (Andarine)
- SR9009 (Stenabolic)
- Where can you buy SARMs?
- My Final Thoughts
What are Sarms?
To start SARMs are an acronym for Selective Androgen Receptor Modulators. Basically they are a class of therapeutic compounds that have similar properties to anabolic agents, but with reduced androgenic properties. This property allows SARMs the advantage of androgen-receptor specificity, tissue selectivity, and the lack of steroid-related side effects. Basically steroids are a sledgehammer when it comes to growth smashing its way through the body for positive (growth, increased muscle, increased sex drive) and negative (testosterone suppression, gyno, liver damage) effects. SARMSs on the other hand are like a pick hammer selectively binding with the androgen receptors for specific desired outcomes.
SARMs were first discovered in 1998 which is basically yesterday in medical terms. Researchers found that there were therapeutic opportunities in a variety of medical conditions including muscle-wasting diseases, osteoporosis, cancer, and hypogonadism. It took another 5 years before researchers discovered the tissue selectivity properties of SARMs in 2003, but popularity amongst fitness users didn’t really start until earlier this decade. This means that there has been little long-term studies on the drugs.
How are Sarms different to steroids?
As I mentioned before the selctivity of SARMS is what makes it most different from steroids. Technically speaking, SARMs accomplish this in two ways:
- They have a special affinity for certain tissues like muscle and bone, but not for others, like the prostate, liver, and brain.
- They don’t break down into unwanted molecules that cause side effects, like DHT and estrogen, as easily.
More specifically one key characteristic of SARMs is they’re not easily converted into an enzyme called 5-a reductase, which converts testosterone into DHT, a driver of many unwanted side effects of steroid use such as thinning hair, emotional changes and prostate enlargement. SARMs are also far more resistant to the enzyme aromatase, which converts testosterone into estrogen as well as being far less suppressive of natural testosterone production.
Unfortunately whilst results are excellent which I will get to in more below, research and anecdotal evidence still has steroids as a superior muscle and strength builder, but lean bulks and fat loss are far superior with SARMs.
Legal Status of SARM’s
SARMs are legal to purchase in Australia but with a major caveat; they can only be sold and purchased for research purposes only. Basically the entire industry in Australia is built on a wink wink relationship between buyers and sellers that it won’t be consumed by the buyer. (Pro tip: don’t ask your supplier directly about use and steroid stacks etc, it puts them in a compromising position. If you need to ask do it on the forum here).
The USADA have not provided full clinical approval for human consumption as prescription drugs has not yet been accomplished for any of the substances in the U.S. I am trying to get clarification from Australian authorities on the current classification of SARM’s but a search through the TGA (therapeutic goods administration) turned up nothing so its safe to assume that we are following the U.S example. In sports the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) has prohibited the use of SARMS since 2008, and it is actively being tested for.
How Are SARMs taken?
Samrs are taken orally without any need for injections (hooray I hear the people cry). Because of its selective properties SARM’s are harmless to the liver so you just need a dropper to measure it and squirt it in your mouth. Unfortunately the taste is harsh, don’t mix it as it will dilute the substance, the best option is to take it straight and follow with a chaser like grapefruit or orange juice.
A look at the Different SARM products
GW-501516 is an extremely popular SARM that is known for its positive effects on endurance and for having minimal side effects. GW-501516 is a selective agonist (activator) of the PPARδ receptor which up regulates the expression of proteins involved in energy expenditure. Furthermore in rats treated with GW-501516, increased fatty acid metabolism in skeletal muscle and protection against diet-induced obesity and type II diabetes was observed making it great for lean gain when stacked or straight fat loss.
- Best for increased Endurance
- 5-20mg day daily (split doses) for 8 weeks
- Fat loss (run with S-4 or Mk2866 to maintain muscle tissue)
LGD-4033 binds to the androgen receptor of muscle and bone selectively, exhibiting similar effects as testosterone*, with only partial agonist activity on the prostate. It has been touted as a safer option then Dbol with similar effects on the body. However it does have the side effect of suppressing testosterone production although its far more mild then the suppression caused by anabolic steroids. Some people recommend a full PCT or a mini-PCT post cycle as well as running a product like hcgenerate on cycle while others think a natural testosterone booster like hcgenerate is more than enough to combat the effects.
Ostarine helps nutrient partitioning to a high degree. This effect has helped many achieve the supposed “impossible” feat of losing fat while gaining muscle at the same time. While MK-2866 is significantly anabolic (about half as anabolic as testosterone), it’s even better at being anti-catabolic, making it ideal for bridges in between cycles of anabolic steroids. In addition, it’s great when you want to jump start your HPTA and keep those hard earned gains, while maybe even adding a few pounds in between cycles.
Mk-2866 has proven to be quite beneficial in healing and perhaps preventing injuries in tendons, bone, and ligaments. Studies have shown, it is better than testosterone at injury prevention.
- Excellent all-round compound: increases muscle and aids in fat loss and endurance
- Great healing properties, particularly for bones, ligaments and tendons.
- Can be paired with nearly anything; great for bridging steroid courses, run by itself with injury or most popularly paired with GW-501516.
- 12.5-25mg/day for 8-12 weeks.
Growth hormone pulse intensity can be increased through 4 possible mechanisms and Mk-677 has been shown to work through all four of the mechanisms. They are:
- Increasing GHRH (growth hormone releasing hormone) release.
- Amplifying GHRH signaling in somatotrophs of the anterior pituitary gland.
- Reducing somatostatin release (somatostatin turns off GH release).
- Inhibiting of somatostatin receptor signaling.
For this reason MK-677 has been suggested as an easier (and cheaper) alternative to HGH with all the added benefits that come from increased Growth Hormone and IGF-1 levels. These include better sleep, improved complexion, increase in energy levels, increase nitrogen retention, increase strength, increase in bone density, improvement in the immune system and an improved sense of well being.
Some of the usual side effects that go with elevated growth hormone levels such as numb hands, some lethargy, as well as slight increased appetite have been reported with the use of Mk-677 but subside quickly after discontinuing use.
- HGH replacement
- Great for lean gains, general well being and improved healing
- Can be stacked with basically anything depending on your goals.
- Common dose is 12.5-25mg/day
RAD-140 is the newest SARM on the block and one of the most promising. It has a unique property of countering prostate enlargement so is a popular choice to stack with androgenic steroids. Rad is known for its lean mass properties and very low side effects which allows it to be stacked with nearly anything but it is most commonly run by itself. As it is the newest SARM being released in 2010 there is little literature on it but anecdotally the reviews have been quite enthusiastic.
- Amazing for lean gains
- Beneficial for endurance and recovery.
- 20-30mg a day
- Cycles much longer at least 8 weeks up to 14 weeks.
Like most sarms it has multiple positive effects on the body but S-23 seems to be particularly strong for growth, more so then say MK-2866 and S-4. Additionally studies have shown increased bone mineral density which is somewhat unique amongst SARMs.
However these come at a small cost, a study using rats showed S-23 to be a very good contraceptive so sterility is one of the side effects. Thankfully after 100 days post use the contraceptive effect subsided with pregnancy rates at 100%. Another side effect though is suppression of testosterone (which is the underlying cause of the sterility) which is more significant than other Sarms such as S4, MK2866 and LGD-4033. A full PCT is recommended as a result.
- Best Muscle Growth
- Increased Bone Mineral Density.
- Temporary Sterility Side Effect
- Heavy Testoterone Suppression requiring PCT
- Dosage 15-25mg for 6-8 weeks commonly stacked with a test base
S-4 is best known for drying out the muscle and skin surrounding it which provides a hard and sharp look. It is often compared to winstrol in that effect and a popular option pre-contest. In addition it aids in significant weight loss by improving the oxidisation of fat and increased uptake of nutrition.
Unfortunately some users have experienced negative side effects with their vision. A shorter cycle (like this testosterone cycle for beginners) of 5-6 weeks is recommended to avoid any issues. Basically S4 is a powerful cutting substance that will harden the muscle and skin for a better appearance, without the usual sides of water retention, reduced strength, sore joints or painful pumps that you may get with winstrol or other cutting steroids.
- Incredible fat loss
- Improved vascularity and muscle hardness and appearance.
- Improved endurance
- Possible vision side effects
- 50-75mg daily for 4-6 weeks.
- Mini PCT is recommended
- Best stacked with MK2866
SR9009 is not technically a SARM as it does not work by activating the Androgen receptors like the other SARMS. SR9009 sets off a host of processes in the body through the activating and binding of Rev-Erb protein. Its greatest potential comes from its ability to stimulate further production of mitochondria, thus enhancing metabolism in the muscles. The results of these are in increase in endurance and fat loss through a boost in metabolism even when resting. In addition SR9009 will reduce cholesterol, glucose and insulin markedly and if that wasn’t enough it also reduces proinflammatory cytokine IL-6 which causes inflammation. The only drawback is the very short half life of the drug. It is recommended to split your doses up so you are taking it every 2-3 hours minimum.
- Great for fat loss
- Improved endurance
- Reduce cholesterol, glucose and insulin
- Reduce inflammation
- No sides
- 20-30mg day (split into at least 4 doses) for 6-8weeks.
YK11 is a muscle building SARM with similar effects as anabolic agents on muscle growth. Where it really shines is as a myostatin inhibitator. Myostatin is a protein that limits the production and growth of muscle tissue. YK11 is seen as an option for bodybuilders to exceed their genetic potential. YK11 doesn’t seem to have any major sides although some people reported hair loss (although they were pre-determined to it anyway).
Where can you buy them?
I recommend AG Pharma for all your SARMS needs. They source direct from a US manufacturer to guarantee the highest quality (at least 99.6% purity) SARMs available in Australia. Their prices are awesome and just real quality guys providing a tremendous service. Check out the site at agpharma.com.au.
My final thoughts
I don’t want to speak as an authority on the subject because I am not, SARMs are relatively new to me and to the whole fitness industry. However personally and anecdotally the science has been proven correct over and over again. The results you can achieve and the distinct lack of sides make them an attractive option for sure, with the price and legal ambiguity making them nearly a must have. I think for pure growth you can never go past anabolic steroids but for lean gains, endurance gains, injury repair and fat loss SARMs by themselves or stacked with steroids will not dissapoint.
Possibly the severe lack of research and limited exposure of SARMs leave some question marks over the long term damage they may possibly cause but common sense should alleviate the worse concerns with moderate dosages, cycling off and vigilance in your own health simple things that you should do to protect yourself. I will be working on another article shortly trawling through the scientific literature on SARM’s which should help back up any anecdotal claims made above. This article will be updated accordingly as I learn more, but I wanted to get the basics out as soon as possible to answer many of the questions I have received recently.