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Are SARMs Steroids? The Key Differences Explained

Are SARMs Steroids The Key Differences Explained

Selective androgen receptor modulators (SARMs) have grown increasingly popular among bodybuilders and athletes in recent years. With names like Ostarine, Ligandrol, and YK-11, these compounds seem reminiscent of traditional anabolic steroids.

Are Short Anabolic Steroid Cycles Safer Than Extended Use?

However, SARMs are often marketed as having steroid-like effects without the negative side effects. This inevitably raises questions – are SARMs actually steroids in disguise? Or are they an entirely different class of performance enhancing drugs?

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore what constitutes a steroid versus a SARM and explain the key differences between these substances. Read on to finally understand whether SARMs can be considered steroids or not.

Defining Anabolic Steroids

Before examining SARMs, let’s first establish what precisely makes a substance an anabolic steroid.
Anabolic steroids are synthetic variations of the male sex hormone testosterone. They have both anabolic (muscle-building) and androgenic (masculinizing) effects on the body.

The anabolic effects of steroids stimulate protein synthesis and muscle growth. They enable athletes to gain strength and bulk up far more quickly than possible through training alone.

Meanwhile, the androgenic effects are responsible for changes like increased body hair, a deeper voice, and reproductive changes like testicular atrophy. The ratio between the anabolic and androgenic effects varies between different steroids.

Examples of popular anabolic steroids include Testosterone, Trenbolone, Deca Durabolin, Anadrol, and Winstrol. These exogenous steroids override the body’s natural testosterone production once administered.

Both oral and injectable forms exist, with injectables regarded as more powerful. Most steroids sold illegally today are derived from Testosterone. While they can be used therapeutically, non-medical use carries health risks.

Now that we understand traditional steroids, let’s compare them against SARMs.

SARMs Overview

SARMs stands for Selective Androgen Receptor Modulators. They are called “selective” because they only selectively target muscle and bone androgen receptors as opposed to multiple tissues in the body.

This selective binding results in targeted anabolic effects without unwanted side effects on organs like the prostate, skin, or hair. SARMs produce steroid-like results but in a much more tissue-selective manner.

They are not converted into estrogen or DHT like steroids either. Most SARMs are administered orally in capsules, with a typical cycle lasting from 4 to 12 weeks depending on the goals.

Popular options like Ostarine and Ligandrol do not require Post Cycle Therapy (PCT), while stronger SARMs like YK-11 may necessitate PCT. SARMs avoid aromatization, suppression, and liver toxicity issues seen with most steroids.

At moderate doses, SARMs are selective for anabolic effects in muscle and bone. However, at very high doses, some may begin exhibiting non-selective effects and impact other tissues as well. So proper dosing is crucial.

Now that we’ve covered the basics of both steroids and SARMs, let’s outline the key differences between the two.

Key Differences Between SARMs and Steroids

Now we can clearly see that while SARMs are performance enhancing substances, they are not technically classified as traditional anabolic-androgenic steroids. Here are the main differences:

Steroids demonstrate strong anabolic and androgenic activity. SARMs exhibit mainly anabolic activity in selected tissues like muscle and bone.

Steroids bind to androgen receptors in many tissues throughout the body. SARMs selectively bind to receptors in specific tissues only.

Steroids significantly impact gonadal function and hormone production. SARMs have less impact on these functions.

Steroids commonly cause virilization effects in females. SARMs do not trigger masculinizing effects at recommended dosages.

Steroids can adversely affect the prostate, cardiovascular system, and liver. SARMs have minimal impact on these organs.

Steroids cannot be taken orally due to liver toxicity, requiring injections. Most SARMs are conveniently taken via oral capsules.

Steroids must be cycled since they suppress natural testosterone production. Most SARMs don’t require cycling or PCT.

Steroids carry legal restrictions for use and possession. SARMs are unapproved drugs but generally more accessible.

As highlighted above, we can see SARMs are biologically and chemically distinct from traditional anabolic steroids. They aim to provide targeted, tissue-selective effects with an improved safety profile.

SARMs vs. Prohormones

Prohormones are another category of performance enhancers often mentioned alongside SARMs. Prohormones can convert into active anabolic steroids once ingested.

They act as precursors to active steroids in the body. Prohormones exert many of the same effects as steroids themselves and come with similar risks. SARMs, on the other hand, are an entirely separate class of PEDs altogether.

Best SARMs The Best Option for Your Goals

Selective androgen receptor modulators (SARMs) have become quite popular amongst gym-goers and athletes as performance enhancers. With various SARMs available, it can be hard to determine which one is best suited for your needs. This comprehensive guide will cover the top SARMs and how to use them properly.

Ostarine (MK-2866)

Ostarine, also known as MK-2866, is perhaps the most popular SARM on the market. It’s an excellent choice for those new to SARMs thanks to its mild nature and versatility. Ostarine provides decent muscle gains and fat loss simultaneously.


Good for bulking and cutting
Increases muscle mass
Reduces body fat
Boosts bone density
Low toxicity

Dosage: 25mg to 36mg per day for 8 to 12 weeks. First-time users should start on the lower end of 12.5mg daily.

Stacking: Ostarine combines well with GW-501516 or SR-9009 for cutting, and LGD-4033 for bulking. Using a testosterone base is recommended for more experienced users.

Ligandrol (LGD-4033)

Ligandrol, also called LGD-4033, is a great SARM for building significant muscle mass rapidly. It’s one of the more potent SARMs in terms of size and strength gains.


Boosts muscle mass
Increases strength
Enhances athletic performance
May aid recovery

Dosage: 5mg to 10mg per day for 6 to 12 weeks. 5mg daily is suitable for beginners.

Stacking: LGD-4033 stacks well with RAD-140 or MK-677. Adding a testosterone base can further boost gains.

Testolone (RAD-140)

RAD-140, or Testolone, is another powerful SARM perfect for both bulking and cutting. It stimulates muscle growth while helping burn excess body fat.


Builds lean muscle mass
Increases strength significantly
Promotes fat loss
Boosts stamina
Low toxicity

Dosage: 10mg to 20mg per day for 6 to 12 weeks. 10mg daily is recommended for first time users.

Stacking: RAD-140 combines well with Ostarine, MK-677, or LGD-4033. A testosterone base can maximize gains.

Cardarine (GW-501516)

Cardarine, also known as GW-501516, is a popular endurance boosting SARM. It speeds up fat loss while increasing cardio performance significantly.


Burns fat rapidly
Boosts endurance
Increases energy
Promotes cardiovascular health
Low toxicity

Dosage: 10mg to 20mg per day for 6 to 12 weeks. Start with 10mg daily.

Stacking: Cardarine works well with Ostarine or Andarine during cutting cycles. It can also stack with MK-677.

Andarine (S-4)

Andarine, known as S-4, is a cutting SARM with powerful fat burning effects. It also provides moderate muscle gains. Overall, it’s an excellent option for achieving a shredded physique.


Burns fat
Adds lean muscle
Enhances athletic performance
Improves bone density
Low toxicity

Dosage: 25mg to 50mg daily for 8 to 12 weeks. 25mg is recommended for beginners.

Stacking: Andarine combines well with Ostarine or Cardarine when cutting. Adding a testosterone base can boost results.

The Verdict

SARMs are innovative performance enhancing compounds providing steroid-like results from a non-steroidal substance. Thanks to their selective receptor binding, SARMs offer targeted anabolic effects on muscle and bone growth.

This makes them distinct from traditional anabolic steroids which impact the entire androgen system and can cause unwelcome virilization side effects. SARMs enable bodybuilders to potentially gain size and strength without impacting hormones or organs like the prostate.

While not completely side effect free, SARMs do provide a safer alternative for those seeking performance enhancement with fewer health risks. However, like any PED, they should still be used responsibly under medical guidance.

So in summary – while SARMs are not steroids in the technical sense, they offer a viable alternative for those seeking steroid-like effects with fewer drawbacks. If you’re considering SARMs, be sure to thoroughly research the potential benefits and side effects. As with any supplement, it’s essential to be an informed consumer.


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