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What Are SARMS?

Said to produce similar muscle-building and fat loss effects as anabolic androgenic steroids, and even providing cardiovascular benefits while minimizing adverse effects commonly associated with steroids, SARMS have undoubtedly caught the attention of the entire fitness community.

Just because they are technically legal, doesn't mean they are safe.

But are SARMS effective and safe? Here is everything you need to know about SARMS so you can be on the forefront of the supplement industry and educate yourself on this controversial class of pharmaceutical drug.


SARMS is an abbreviation for Selective Androgen Receptor Modulators. To understand why SARMS are so appealing, it’s important to understand their intended use within clinical treatments in comparison with steroids.

In a clinical setting, anabolic steroids are used to help treat muscle wasting and other functional limitations. Steroids bind to androgen receptors across the board, so to speak. Their binding isn’t targeted. So while steroids can help build muscle by binding to androgen receptors in non-reproductive tissue like skeletal muscle, they also bind to androgen receptors in reproductive tissue causing unwanted and unfavorable adverse side effects like enlarged prostates, hair growth, and liver toxicity 1. Other side effects like high cholesterol and blood pressure may occur from oral steroid use.

In an effort to provide the muscle building benefits that steroids offer while also minimizing the unwanted, adverse effects associated with steroids, big pharmaceutical companies have turned to developing SARMS. Research shows safety profiles of SARMS are much higher than anabolic androgenic steroids 2.

Medical professionals indicate anabolic SARMS are “expected to display antagonistic or weak agonistic activity in the prostate, but strong agonistic activity in skeletal muscle”2. In other words, anabolic SARMS are studied for their ability to positively affect skeletal muscle tissue and bones while minimally affecting the prostate – and this is a big deal when it comes to pharmaceutical treatments.

Considering anabolic SARMS benefits towards skeletal muscle and higher safety profiles than testosterone 2, it’s no wonder those wanting to maximize their muscle gain have become interested in SARMS.

In an effort to provide the muscle building benefits that steroids offer while also minimizing the unwanted, adverse effects associated with steroids, big pharmaceutical companies have turned to developing SARMS.


The legality and hype around SARMS use is questionable at best. SARMS are considered research chemicals and are studied for potential use during certain medical treatments. Much like anabolic steroids, however, SARMS use outside of the medical realm is still prevalent. The selling of SARMS for purposes outside the medical world is unregulated and is quite a grey area. Additionally, SARMS sold on these sites are NOT dietary supplements, despite what labels state on the bottle.

Consequently, some supplement industry experts speculate that SARMS will eventually become a banned substance under the Designer Anabolic Steroid Control Act (DASCA), the same act that banned prohormones in December of 2014 3. The verbiage of this act basically makes it possible to ban any ingredient deemed anabolic.

Considering the legalities and controversy surrounding the ingredient, you most likely won’t find SARMS for sale on reputable, well-known bodybuilding supplement websites. It’s also important to note that SARMS are banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency 4, so competitive athletes, beware.


There are too many variables and unknowns surrounding SARMS. For treating certain medical conditions under professional care, SARMS may prove especially beneficial. Using SARMS for improving your gym performance, however, is controversial and dangerous at best.

It is still too early to make an official ruling on SARMS.

There is not enough research surrounding SARMS side effects and safety. Long-term studies have not been conducted, and the outcome of using SARMS to improve workout performance is unknown. If you scan the internet, however, you’ll see quite a bit of horrifying personal experiences from supplementing with them.

Also, because SARMS aren’t regulated, there’s no way to ensure the safety and legitimacy of alleged SARMS products sold through secondhand websites and other means. This means that even though a supplement may list SARMS on the label, that doesn’t mean that you’re actually getting what you think. Additionally, there are several forms of SARMS, each displaying different actions and mechanisms, and using SARMS as a blanketed term is both dangerous and ignorant, but this doesn’t stop many companies from using this generic term in an effort to make a quick buck.

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Mike Jackson
Mike Jackson is nutritional consultant as well as a freelance writer in the field of health and fitness. He specializes physique transformation and contest preparation for all levels of competitor. Mike is currently based out of Salt Lake City, Utah.


  1. Text of the Designer Anabolic Steroid Control Act of 2014.
  2. Seul Min Choi & Byung-Mu Lee (2015): Comparative safety evaluation of selective androgen receptor modulators and anabolic androgenic steroids, Expert Opinion on Drug Safety, DOI: 10.1517/14740338.2015.1094052.
  3. US Food and Drug Administration; “Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994”; October 25, 1994.
  4. World Anti-Doping Agency; The 2015 Prohibited List; September 20, 2014.
Leave a Comment



November 7, 2015

wondering if at my age,57, would I get any of the supposed ‘Benefits’ from trying these ‘supplements’???? My doc is suggesting test gel because my T-levels are pretty low…Any info would be appreciated..


    Mike Jackson

    November 9, 2015

    It is always important to err on the side of caution when dealing with pharmaceutical treatments. These types of treatments should be run by your doctor. While it may be possible for you to experience benefits from these supplements, it is highly recommended that you take supplements under the recommendations of your doctor as they will know your health better.


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