Selective Androgen Receptor Modulators (SARMs) are relatively new but offer amazing performance benefits.
Some liken them to steroids, and it’s true that they share some commonalities. But the two are not the same. In fact, the benefits of taking SARMS far outweigh the risks of taking steroids when you compare the two next to each other.
This causes many to wonder: What are SARMs exactly? Are SARMs safe to use? And are there tips on how to build muscle or improve performance by taking this chemical?
Because it’s still in its infancy stage, there’s a lot to understand. Here’s a full breakdown for you so that you can make an informed choice based on your goals.
What Are SARMs?
SARMs stands for Selective Androgen Receptor Modulators. In terms of performance enhancement, they are relatively new on the scene. SARMs didn’t become popular until the 1990s—nearly 50 years after some of the first recorded use of steroids in sports.
People who take SARMs generally have a few goals. Popular ones include building muscle, combatting natural decline in muscle mass as you age, and keeping bones dense to prevent things like osteoarthritis.
While many compare them to steroids, they are not the same thing. They have become a popular alternative for many strength athletes instead of taking legal steroids. This is due to the fact that they generally have fewer side effects and health consequences—and the taboo surrounding them is not as large.
How Do SARMs Work?
Selective Androgen Receptor Modulators promote an increase in chemicals in your cells that activate androgen receptors.
Your androgen receptors enable your body to respond to certain hormones needed for muscle growth, like testosterone. When they become activated, SARMs promote an increase in these hormones, which can help you reach your health or fitness goals.
Specifically, SARMs target two types of body tissues: muscle and bone. This actually sets them apart in many ways from anabolic steroids. (See “Are SARMs Safe To Use?” for more.)
Those who take SARMs must do so in an ethical, responsible way. They need to be cycled so the body can balance itself out. Taking any supplement, not just SARMs, is probably not a good idea without some degree of balance.
Are SARMs Legal?
It’s not well communicated whether or not SARMs are legal in America. That’s because they aren’t legal for human consumption. However, one reason many people want to ask, “Are SARMs safe to use?” is because of the way they are marketed.
Typically, SARMS are advertised as a type of research chemical. Sold as chemicals for studies, it is perfectly legal. However, SARMs have not been approved by the FDA.
Since many people take them to promote athletic performance and some doctors prescribe them for cancer treatment, this can be a tricky distinction to make.
Understand that if you’re considering searching for SARMs for sale, you would need to find them from a quality source. Not all supplement distributors are equal.
Also, if you compete in a sport, it’s always best to ask questions and err on the side of caution. Rules constantly change in sports and can differ in various federations. It’s always better to be on the safe side before putting something in your body that could get you disqualified.
Are SARMs Safe to Use?
Currently, not enough medical research and studies have been conducted to determine that SARMs are safe for everyone to use. However, that evidence typically points to the long-term effects. SARMs have not been around long enough for long-term studies to be wrapped up.
The positive news is that there have been some promising studies. It is believed that, eventually, this could be the case.
You also need to consider that not all products are created equally. Since SARMs are labeled as research chemicals and come in different formats, one supplement could vary drastically from the other. You should absolutely do your homework and only purchase from a reputable source when shopping.
Are SARMs Better Than Steroids?
Generally speaking, yes. While it depends on your goals and what you hope to achieve from taking SARMs or steroids, the former is probably the better choice.
The main reason why is that SARMs only target two areas of the body. They are hyperspecific in the types of tissues they influence. Steroids, on the other hand, manipulate hormone production all over the body.
When not taken properly, steroids can lead to a whole host of serious side-effects. Heart disease, liver failure, extreme skin problems, mood disorder, and sexual dysfunction are all possible.
Clinical trials of SARMs, on the other hand, have yielded pretty promising results. So far, scientists have observed that they are generally well-tolerated chemicals by a range of different people.
Where Did SARMs Originate?
The short answer is that the marketplace has called for solutions that help prevent aging and adding muscle in men for years. SARMs were identified as a product that could boost androgen receptor modulators with very few (if any) side effects.
Since the 1990’s they’ve been in use—although some scientists still consider them a product in development. Not enough clinical trials have been conducted on SARMs as of now. But because of their potential medical and performance-related benefits, research in this area is starting to pick up.
Initial research on SARMS began way back in the 1940s. The goal at the onset was to create a drug that responded to the modifications made to testosterone molecules. Over the years, a more pure product has been identified for athletic use.
SARMs Use in America
SARMs are illegal for human consumption in America. But that doesn’t mean people still don’t get their hands on them. From fitness enthusiasts to medical doctors, many people are doing just that.
This is in large part due to something the 1994 Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA) missed. In America, products classified as dietary supplements do not have to be tested or marketed as food and beverages do before being sold.
This leaves the door open for technically illegal supplements like SARMs to find their way into fitness and health products. It’s certainly possible to buy them online. But this is also why you really need to do your research.
Because the supplements aren’t legal, they often contain no actual SARMs. In fact, one study found that only about half of the products on the market being advertised that way contain any actual androgen receptor chemicals.
Today, SARMs are a sort of gray-area treatment or supplement. They’re not technically legal for human consumption in the United States, but they are being used for very different reasons across the country.
SARMS and Cancer Treatment
From a medical perspective, SARMs have been used as a way to prevent muscle waste during cancer treatment.
Muscle wasting is a very common side-effect of cancer treatment. Popular methods like chemotherapy and radiation take a serious toll on the body. When your body loses its lean muscle mass, it’s more susceptible to breaks. The older a person gets, the more serious of a problem muscle wasting becomes.
There’s also a psychological effect to maintaining muscle mass. Being severely weakened through cancer treatment can make it hard to persevere or endure. This is at least one area where SARMs are believed to be effective for treating a health problem.
In some cases, medical doctors have prescribed SARMs to men suffering from breast or other forms of cancers. Early studies on the effects of SARMs and Alzheimer’s are also in the works right now.
SARMs and Bodybuilding
Of the many communities interested in taking SARMs, bodybuilders top the list. That’s because the benefits SARMs offer can help promote muscle mass and combat aging—two big factors in the bodybuilding world.
If there’s a third benefit that SARMs offer, it’s the addition of fat-free mass. Many bodybuilders train in a bulking and cut cycle. In the bulking cycle, they’ll gain fat along with muscle because it’s easier to create an anabolic (growth) state in the body that way.
SARMs help gives you a boost without putting on fat. Because bodybuilders are judged largely on how well their muscles “pop”—and low body-fat percentage doesn’t help in that area—it has become a popular option for this crowd as well.
As with any supplement, it’s important to understand responsible use. SARMs, like any anabolic compound, need to be cycled. This means you take them for a period of time and then ween them off so that your body’s endocrine system can return to a normal baseline.
SARMS and Cycling
If there’s another sport with rampant SARMs use, it’s cycling. For decades, cyclers have looked for a competitive edge to win big races from the low to pro levels. People wondering, “Are SARMs legal to use?” should know the cycling community feels strongly that SARMS do the trick.
One article goes so far as to say that it’s cycling’s biggest threat. That is definitely debatable, considering that cycling is and has been one of the most tainted sports for a number of decades.
It’s become such a popular practice that even the amateur levels of cycling have seen an uptick in taking performance-enhancers. While Lance Armstrong is the only famous name that took a fall for doping in the early 2000s, many sports experts say the sport is thoroughly tainted.
Cyclers need strong bones and lean muscle mass to generate power on a bike. Hanging onto additional body-fat will only hinder their ability to speed up hills. So it makes sense that activating their androgen receptors would become a popular practice.
Should Women Use SARMs?
There is no definitive yes or no answer here that will work for each person. SARMs are okay for the majority of people to take as long as they don’t have pre-existing conditions.
However, it should be noted that women naturally have lower testosterone than men. Most men seem to take well to additional hormones being added to their bodies, and some even thrive. But because women have lower levels that could elevate much higher (relatively speaking) this is something to be aware of.
Women are more likely to suffer from bone loss and ailments like osteoporosis, though. This could pose a good reason to look into taking SARMs as a woman, especially if you are older. After age 50 (and especially after menopause), it tends to be the case that woman rapidly lose their bone mass and density if they don’t take action.
As with any supplement or performance enhancer, it’s important to speak to a doctor first. Let him or her assess your medical condition before deciding whether or not this is a good option.
The Scoop on Taking SARMs
Those asking, “Are SARMs safe to use?” should have their answer. While no long-term studies on SARMS exist, they appear to be about as effective as legal steroids.
In fact, they may actually be better because there are very few side effects as compared to most performance-enhancing drugs. Whereas steroids could literally kill you if you abuse them, all the research done on SARMs seems to show the side-effects are minimal.
The most important thing you need to remember is that these chemicals are sold in a variety of ways. Do your research and buy from a trusted source to ensure you get the right product for you. And be sure to cycle so you don’t mess up your body’s natural systems.
Read our blog for more fitness and life advice!