If you’re interested in exercise, fitness, and bodybuilding, then chances are you’ve heard of SARMs. But what are they, how do they work, and what do they do to the body? In this comprehensive SARMs guide, we answer all your questions…and more.
What are SARMs?
SARMs is an acronym, standing for ‘Selective Androgen Receptor Modulators’. These modulators are synthetic, manufactured chemical substances that behave in a similar way to steroids. However, there is one significant difference between the two.
The type of steroids used for bodybuilding are officially known as anabolic-androgenic steroids, or AAS. This means that they have both anabolic and androgenic effects. Anabolic effects are those relating to cell growth, while androgenic effects are those that affect the body’s sex hormones. This is why bodybuilders using steroids may suffer with unwanted side effects such as reduced sperm count, shrunken testicles, breast development, and erectile dysfunction.
SARMs, on the other hand, have been developed to target only specific tissues within the body, reducing the risk of androgenic side effects. They were engineered as a potential treatment for muscle wasting in patients diagnosed with diseases that can cause weakness and degeneration in the muscles, such as osteoporosis, sarcopenia, muscular dystrophy, and some types of cancers. SARMs have a similar anabolic profile as steroids, but with a much lower effect on the sex hormones.
How do they work?
SARMs work by binding to the androgen receptors in the body and triggering changes in the body’s DNA. This causes growth in the cells, which can have a significant impact on aspects such as muscle mass, bone density, strength, metabolism, blood cell production, blood clotting, and even cognitive activity.
What can SARMs do?
From an official standpoint, this is a tricky question to answer. Neither the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) nor the European Medicines Agency (EMA) have approved the use of SARMs for the treatment or management of any disease. Yet. Research and investigations into the use of these chemicals is still in progress.
However, what we do know is that SARMs are of huge interest to the medical, healthcare, and fitness communities. In medical settings, SARMs have already demonstrated a unique ability to stimulate tissue growth specifically in muscle and bone, without generating side effects on the skin, the hair, or on the prostate. This opens up the door for SARMs to be used for bulking, fat loss, cutting, muscle growth, and improvements in bone density, without the same risks posed by steroids.
And it appears that SARMs are highly effective. One study found that SARMs were capable of completely restoring bone loss in mice following testicle removal. Another, carried out on human participants, showed gains in muscle mass and protein synthesis in boys with the genetic disorder Duchenne muscular dystrophy. Further studies have shown that, when SARMs are used in research for fitness purposes, over 90% of male participants report increased muscle mass and strength.
Types of SARMs
There’s no ‘one size fits all’ when it comes to SARMS. There are a number of different substances that have been developed, each with its own unique chemical structure. This means that different SARMs bind to different androgen receptors in the body, having slightly different impacts on cell development and muscle function.
Some of the most common forms of SARMs include:
- Ostarine MK-2866
- Testolone RAD-140
- Ibutamoren MK-677
- Ligandrol LGD-4033
- Andarine S4
- Myostine YK-11
There are also some other substances that, while they don’t technically fall under the SARMs umbrella, have such a similar effect on the body that they are generally considered to be SARMs. These include Stenabolic SR-9009, a REV-ERB agonist, and Cardarine GW-501516, which is a Peroxisome Proliferator-Activated Receptor.
As different SARMs have different effects – and vary in their level of potency – more research is being undertaken into stacking; using different types of SARMs together to customise the effect on the body. For example, if a bodybuilder wanted to boost lean gains while also enhancing recovery, it is possible that two different SARMs could be used together to achieve both of these exercise and fitness benefits.
Are SARMs safe?
As SARMs are still being investigated, it is impossible to say with any certainty whether these chemicals are 100% safe for human consumption. What we do know, however, is that researchers typically agree that SARMs are safer than AAS steroids.
Despite this, it’s important to be aware that side effects can – and do – happen. One study found that more than 50% of male participants experienced some sort of side effect from using SARMs, including shrunken testicles, acne, and mood swings. The US Department of Defense also warns of possible negative effects on testosterone levels, liver function, and cholesterol. As more research is carried out into SARMs, the safety of the substances and their impact on the body should become clearer.
Are SARMs legal?
As SARMs are classified as ‘research laboratory chemicals’, it is legal to purchase them in the UK, and in many other countries around the world. The only aspect to be aware of is that SARMs are banned by many major sporting bodies. For example, the World Anti-Doping Agency includes all SARMs on the official prohibited list, under ‘other anabolic agents’, so they should not be purchased for competitive purposes.
Where to buy SARMs
As it is legal to buy and sell SARMs in the UK, a quick Google search will show up a huge list of results for companies selling Ostarine MK-2866, Testolone RAD-140, and more. However, it’s important to only buy high quality products from reputable companies due to the increasing number of low quality and fake SARMs out there.
One study, which looked at 44 SARMs for sale online, found that only 52% actually contained the SARMs they were supposed to. A quarter included ingredients not listed on the label, 39% had other unapproved substances in them, and nearly 60% contained ingredients at different quantities than those stated. Therefore, if you’re considering to buy SARMs online, it’s important to do your research, and only purchase from reputable websites selling authentic products, like SARMs.co.uk.