by Mike Arnold
“A Closer Look at 5 of Today’s Most Popular Anabolic Steroid Alternatives”
Whenever the subject of S.A.R.M’s is mentioned during conversation, most people tend to think of steroids, or more specifically “steroid alternatives”. This is understandable, given that this class of drugs was originally developed for this purpose, but unlike steroids, S.A.R.M’s are no one trick pony. Muscle growth, elevation of growth hormone levels, fat loss, and increased muscular endurance are just some of the benefits associated with this diverse category of drugs.
In this article, we will take a look at the most popular SARM’s on the market today, discuss their unique characteristics, and examine their potential applications. In days past, there were few effective options for those wanting to improve their physique. Sure, we had plenty of steroids to choose from, and growth hormone was reserved for the financially well-off (or those willing to break the bank), but there was little else. Most OTC supplements were a joke and entire categories of performance enhancers had not yet been developed.
With a preponderance of effective PED’s now widely available, knowing what’s out there and how they can help us provides us with an advantage over the less well informed, allowing us to reach our goals more quickly and efficiently. We are no longer limited to doing things “one” way, as both variety and legality are not only making things easier, but are eliminating many of the obstacles and roadblocks which previously stood in our way. Of the various categories of PED’s at our disposal, S.A.R.M’s are one of the most interesting, acting as suitable substitutes for more side effect-ridden and costly drugs, while also providing us with a host of benefits unavailable elsewhere.
One SARM that has become immensely popular over the last few months is MK-677. Lacking the characteristic “steroid-like” effects of previously released S.A.R.M’s, MK-677 is not utilized as a muscle builder, but is first and foremost a growth hormone secretagogue. While traditional GH peptides have done a great job at offering a solution to the hefty price tag and quality control issues facing blackmarket growth hormone, the biggest knock against these products has always been their comparatively short active-lives within the body.
Aside from CJC-1295 DAC, which needs to be used at fairly high dosages in order to provide meaningful increases in GH (thereby narrowing the cost cap between CJC and exogenous growth hormone), the other GH peptides need to be administered multiple times daily in order to obtain worthwhile elevations on GH, and oftentimes, they need to be combined with other GH peptides. In the minds of many, this can be a real hassle, causing them to forego their use altogether.
In this sense, MK-677 supplies a distinct advantage. Rather than providing a short, single burst of growth hormone, MK-677 works in pulsatile fashion, delivering up to a dozen bursts of GH over a 24 hour period. When dosed at 25 mg daily, user lab work indicates that one would need to administer roughly 2.5-4 IU of GH per day (or inject GHRP-2 & ModGRF1-29 at a dose of 100-200 mcg each, 3X/day) in order to experience comparable increase in IGF-1 levels; the most accurate measure of GH production. Being that MK-677 only needs to be administered once per day, this is pretty impressive, especially when one considers that this compound works in a dose-dependent fashion—meaning that higher dosages will provide even greater elevations in GH/IGF-1 levels.
With MK-677 being a GHRP-mimetic, in theory, it should stack very well with a long-acting GHRH such as CJC-1295 DAC. Fortunately, we don’t have to wait for clinical research to validate this hypothesis, as user lab work has already shown the ability of this combo to elevate IGF-1 levels to over 600 in some users—a massive increase, to say the least. While we can’t discount the possibility of these readings being obtained with the added assistance of exogenous growth hormone or other drugs (as this lab work was not conducted in a clinical setting), as more and more anecdotal evidence begins to accumulate, such results will be difficult to deny.
Regardless, MK-677 has proven, in my opinion, to be one of the best GH secretagogues on the market today, due to its GH elevating potency, ease of use, and affordable price. For some, the fact that it does not have to be injected further adds to its allure. As one of the only highly effective, orally active GH releasers, it opens up a whole new world of possibilities to non-needle using fitness and bodybuilding enthusiasts.
For those of you who have been around long enough to remember the GH peptide cortisol and prolactin scare of the mid-2000’s, you will be pleased to read that MK-677 only results in minimal, transient increases in these 2 hormones, with level reverting back to baseline within 8 days of initialing use. Even during the brief period of elevation, levels never ventured outside of the normal range, making any concerns associated with this short-term elevation a non-issue.
Lastly, MK-677, unlike several of our other GH peptides, does not result in desensitization, even after long-term use. In fact, one study revealed that IGF-1 levels continued to rise between the 6 and 12 month mark, demonstrating an improved response with extended use. All in all, it is hard to find fault with this stuff, aside from perhaps its appetite stimulating effect, but depending on one’s goals/needs, this could very well end up being a positive characteristic.
Like MK-677, LGD-4033 (Ligandrol) is also one of the newer S.A.R.M’s to enter the market. Similar to its older cousin, MK-2866 (Ostarine), it supplies muscle building effects similar to AAS. All the attributes typically associated with SARM’s are present: a lack of androgenic side effects, the inability to convert to other active metabolites, no liver toxicity, reduced HPTA suppression, etc. These are the normal things we would expect from a steroid-mimicking S.A.R.M such as LGD-4033, but what makes it stand out from drugs like MK-2866 and S4?
The most noteworthy characteristic of LGD-4033, and which differentiates it from the rest of the pack, is its potency. With previous S.A.R.M’s failing to deliver true steroid-like results, LGD-4033 is the first S.A.R.M capable of delivering similar gains in muscle mass, per mg, to those of AAS. Research shows it to be roughly 10-12X more powerful than Ostarine in this regard, the 2nd most potent muscle builder in the class.
In contrast to its strength is its mild nature on the cardiovascular system. With traditional oral steroids causing significant, adverse alterations in cardiovascular health markers, LGD-4033 has zero effect on blood pressure, hematocrit, hemoglobin, and lipids when dosed at 5 mg/day and under. While lipids tend to dip outside the normal reference range when administered above 5 mg/day, alterations are less severe than with traditional orals and quickly return to normal upon cessation of use.
With heart attack and stroke occurring with ever-greater frequency among today’s bodybuilders, LGD-4033’s reduced risk profile in this area is a big plus, especially for those at increased risk of developing serious cardiovascular health issues (i.e. long-term steroid users and those with genetic predispositions). AAS are also well known to cause disturbances in heart function; a side effect unobservable when evaluating LGD-4033 during clinical trials.
As is standard for the more potent muscle builders, natural testosterone suppression is to be expected. However, suppression is dose-dependent, with larger dosages having a more pronounced effect. At 5 mg/day, testosterone levels remained within the “normal” range, although a statistically significant reduction was still noted. At higher dosages, clinical deficiency took place across the board.
Although this may sound bad for those unfamiliar with the effects of AAS on T production, it is actually much better than it appears. In almost all cases, traditional AAS quickly cause the user to sink into severe clinical deficiency and almost complete shutdown is frequently encountered. Even with the assistance of PCT, H.P.T.A function can take months to be restored. With LGD-4033, the recovery period is relatively short, with most individuals experiencing a complete restoration of T levels after a brief, well-planned PCT.
Also of interest is LGD-4033’s effect on the prostate and skeletal system. Possessing a high degree of selectivity for muscle over other bodily tissues, LGD-4033 has no affect on the prostate regardless of dosage. This may be of particular value to older lifters actively attempting to avoid further enlargement of this organ.
Although a drug’s effect on bone mass is usually one of the last things a steroid user thinks about when deciding what to include in his program, it is still a side effect worth mentioning. Just like most AAS, LGD-4033 has a positive impact on bone health by preventing mineral loss. This antiresorptive effect can provide substantial benefit for older lifters, especially women entering menopause. While LGD-4033 is more androgenic than Ostarine (androgenicity being a prime consideration of women looking to avoid masculinization), low doses of this drug (1-2 mg daily) are unlikely to lead to any masculinizing side effects, while providing significant benefit in terms of bone health.
In the next part of this article we will pick up where we left off by reviewing the last 3 S.A.R.M.S on the list: Cardarine (GW-501516), Ostarine (MK-2866), and Andarine (S4).
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