What are SARMs?

Anyone looking to stimulate muscle growth, and searching online for options, will likely come across some mention of SARMs. This leads to more questions: what is the meaning of ‘SARMs’? What is a SARM, exactly? How do SARMs work, and are they safe?

Having been used by bodybuilders for years, SARMs are now becoming more popular among the general public. There are many different types of SARMs on the market; research is still being carried out, and there is no shortage of misleading or incomplete information. 

So, what are SARMs?

SARM meaning

SARMs is an acronym which stands for Selective Androgen Receptor Modulators. It does not refer to a single compound, but rather to a class of therapeutic compounds with similar properties to anabolic steroids. 

Despite having similar effects to steroids, their use has fewer side effects, making them a safer option for users looking to achieve specific changes to muscle mass and bone density, as well as endurance, strength and stamina. This increased safety, as well as their effectiveness in small doses, is what has made them incredibly popular among bodybuilders as well as the general public.

Do SARMs work?

Studies have shown SARMs’ positive effect promoting muscle growth, shedding body fat, and helping with bulking. The results are not unlike those obtained through the use of steroids, but without the same side effects, which were found to include cardiovascular problems, hormonal issues, testicular cancer, and liver conditions. While more research is needed on the full effects of SARMs on the human body, the general consensus is that they are safer to use than anabolic steroids.

SARMs activate androgen receptors by binding androgens, such as testosterone. Unlike anabolic steroids, which bind to androgen receptors in many tissues within the body, individual SARMs selectively bind androgen receptors in certain tissues – for example, muscle or bone – and not in others. 

This means the user can avoid other unwanted androgenic effects (for example, an increased growth of body and facial hair), as well as unwanted side effects in other tissues such as the skin or liver. Different SARMs have different effects, stimulating specific tissue growth; depending on the user’s end goal, they can also be stacked – taken together within the same cycle – in order to maximise the desired effects. 

Safest SARMs

All SARMs are overall considered safer than the most well-known alternative, anabolic steroids. While research is still ongoing on some compounds, there are some individual SARMs which stand out for safety, thanks to a lack of significant side effects. 

Testolone RAD 140, which was initially used to treat breast cancer, was found to help increase muscle mass as well as speed and endurance. It has been theorised that it may provide protection from some neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s, but this has yet to be tested on a human model. Ibutamoren MK 677 mimics the GHS growth hormone for muscle mass, metabolism and bone density, with research flagging no significant side effects. It has been suggested it helps improve sleep quality as well. Ligandrol LGD 4033 is a popular SARM to increase strength, stamina and muscle mass among bodybuilders, taking effect at very low doses with no side effects. 

Another particularly safe SARM is Ostarine MK-2866, which is very popular among beginners. Research on humans has found Ostarine to be highly effective in increasing physical performance and lean muscle mass, as well as retaining existing muscles. Users have reported other positive effects, particularly in repairing damaged ligaments or joints which may become damaged from intense workouts.