SARMs vs Steroids – The New Debate

Will SARMs finally be as powerful? Will Steroids ever have low sides? Find out on the next episode of SARMs vs Steroids!

This is a big one, boys and girls grab your popcorn and gym bag because it’s about to go down! And no, I’m not talking about your liver values I’m talking about the question as old as time.

The ultimate battle, SARMs vs Steroids? Gen Z gym bros say it’s SARMs, while Bald Baby Boomers swear by good ol’ Test and Deca!

Well for the next 10 to 20 minutes, depending on how often you check Instagram, we’re finally putting this question to rest. Let’s go!

Key Takeaways

  • SARMs have fewer side effects compared to steroids, including lower risk of hair loss, aggression, prostate growth, and acne.
  • SARMs (Selective Androgen Receptor Modulators) were designed to have similar muscle-building effects to steroids but with fewer drawbacks, such as avoiding DHT conversion and negative effects on blood lipids.
  • SARMs are more precise in their mechanism and tend not to bind to receptors in the prostate. They don’t suppress endogenous testosterone production like steroids do.
  • Steroids are more effective at building muscle compared to SARMs, as evidenced by the higher lean body mass gained in a comparison study.
  • Both SARMs and steroids can aid in fat loss, but SARMs have fewer documented side effects related to estrogen and liver damage. Steroids can have more pronounced effects on fat loss but come with greater risks.

Warning: The content on and the information included in this article is intended for entertainment and informational purposes only. It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Prior to buying anything, check that it is compliant where you live with your current government laws. We frequently mention research chemicals that are not made for human consumption. Therefore, before purchasing any product for personal use, consult with your doctor or healthcare provider first.

What are SARMs?

SARMs (Selective Androgen Receptor Modulators) are compounds initially designed by doctors and researchers for people who suffer from muscle deteriorating conditions, such as muscle wasting diseases.

These compounds would only bind to certain androgen receptors, like those in the muscles but not those at the prostate, and this receptor would then signal the body to have a change in DNA, promoting muscle growth and reducing muscle wasting.

SARMs vs Steroids

SARMs were designed to have similar effects to their steroidal counterparts but with fewer drawbacks, such as the conversion of testosterone into DHT (Dihydrotestosterone), which can have severe effects on your prostate and a catastrophic effect on blood lipids.

Unlike steroids, SARMs do not suppress natural testosterone production, which is crucial for maintaining natural testosterone levels and reducing the risk of adverse effects on other organs.

In the battle of SARMs vs Steroids for building muscle, steroids, including anabolic androgenic steroids, have been shown to be more effective at increasing lean muscle mass and muscle growth.

Steroids mimic testosterone and improve bone density, making them potent muscle-building agents, especially when combined with intense workouts.

However, it’s important to note that steroids come with the risk of testosterone suppression, mood swings, and other adverse effects.

On the other hand, SARMs are known for their potential to increase muscle mass and improve athletic performance without the adverse effects associated with traditional anabolic steroids.

SARMs do not suppress natural testosterone production, reducing the risk of erectile dysfunction and other health risks.

They are also less likely to cause liver toxicity and have fewer adverse effects on blood pressure.

LGD 4033 Summary

Ligandrol LGD-4033

Ligandrol LGD-4033 is a selective androgenic receptor modulator (SARM) that was developed by Ligand Pharmaceuticals. It is primarily a mass-building SARM that was originally developed to treat muscle-wasting conditions.

Ligandrol is one of the best SARMs for increasing lean mass and it activates the muscle regeneration process after a workout. This SARM also increases both energy and strength.

Ligandrol can be stacked with a cutting SARM for weight loss in order to preserve muscle size while you are stripping off body fat.

In terms of weight loss, Ligandrol is able to attach to fat receptors and stimulate fat loss. It will boost the metabolism for faster calorie burning.

Ligandrol LGD-4033 Overview

⭐️ Top Benefits: Muscle growth, strength gain, fat loss
🧪 Form: Liquid, Powder
⌛️ Cycle Length: 6 – 10 weeks
💰 Average Cost: $59.99
❤️‍🩹 Side Effects: Aggression, acne, liver and kidney issues, and hypertension
☢️ Dangers: Hepatotoxicity, Renal toxicity
📚 Best Stack: MK-677 / Cardarine / RAD 140
PCT Required: Yes
🧍‍♂️🧍‍♀️Men/Women: Men
🔄 See Results
➡️ Go to the Full review

  • Better recovery
  • Improved fat loss
  • Massive muscle gains
  • Aggression
  • Androgenic sides
  • Liver and kidney toxicity
  • Hypertension

What are Steroids?

The word steroid conjures up images of jacked bald guys, deep-voiced women, and just way too many needles.

Actually, the term “steroids” is such a diverse term that we could talk about them for literally hours.

The words anabolic steroids refer to hormones used in sports or recreation in the pursuit of growing more muscle or losing fat.


The most common steroid is pure testosterone, the male sexual hormone. This is the base of most steroids (or rather steroidal products) as derivatives of pure Testosterone can yield certain results.

For instance, removing the 19 Methyl group changes Testosterone into a 19-nortestosterone (or Nandrolone) which has more anabolic effects than pure Testosterone.


As you can see, the changes are subtle on a molecular level, but the differences between testosterone and nandrolone in the body are significant.

Steroids were usually designed, like SARMs, for health applications. Oxymetholone (Anadrol) was given to AIDS patients who suffer from muscle wastage.

Not long before powerlifters figured “Ey this thing makes my nose bleed when I can finally squat 900 lbs! Not a bad trade!” – or so they thought.

Compared to SARMs, steroids have more prevalent side effects. Imagine SARM sides as 2003 The Rock, while steroid side effects are full-blown Fast and Furious, baby oil devouring The Rock.

We’ll get into the nitty gritty a bit later on, but the thing is these have been documented. Steroids aren’t new like SARMs. These sides have been documented and have been known for years.

Advantage, steroids.

SARMS vs Steroids: How do SARMs work compared to Steroids?

SARMs are relatively precise in their mechanism when compared to steroids. Because of their selective nature, they tend not to bind to receptors in the prostate.

Due to the fact that they are not a hormone, they also don’t suppress endogenous Testosterone production which is a large drawback of Testosterone in the first place.

YK 11

As you can see, something like YK-11 is not dramatically different from testosterone in the first place, hence the similarities.

So, compared to steroids, SARMs are just a more precise tool for activating androgen receptors. Unfortunately, the fact of the matter is that SARMs just aren’t as strong as steroids.

SARMs VS Steroid Side Effects

Side Effect ⛔SARMs 💊💧Steroids 💉Winner 🏆
Hair LossNot seen, low DHT conversionDHT’s can definitely cause hair lossSARMs
AggressionVery low, only prevalent in someLow, but more than SARMsSARMs
Prostate GrowthOnly with certain SARMsHighSARMs

Which builds more muscle?

In the ongoing debate over SARMs vs. Steroids and their ability to promote muscle growth, it’s clear that steroids have the upper hand.

The evidence supporting this is as bright as day. Consult any professional bodybuilder, and you’ll discover that their regimen doesn’t include S 23, YK-11, or Ostarine.

Instead, they rely on specific steroids in substantial doses. Even powerlifters prefer traditional needles over SARMs. But why does this distinction exist?

The answer is straightforward. Steroids are unequivocally more potent in terms of muscle-building capacity per unit. Let’s take Testosterone and Ligandrol, for example.

While Ligandrol may flaunt a more favorable anabolic ratio (10:1 vs. 1:1 for Testosterone), the literature demonstrates that Ligandrol administration doesn’t result in the suppression of endogenous Testosterone, unlike exogenous Testosterone.

Although direct comparisons between SARMs and Steroids are somewhat limited due to the paucity of head-to-head studies, let’s delve into two relevant studies for a more comprehensive understanding: 1.0 mg of Ligandrol per day versus 600 mg of Testosterone per week.

The unequivocal truth is that individuals in the Testosterone study achieved a remarkable 86% greater lean body mass compared to those in the Ligandrol study.

It’s imperative to note the study’s limitations, one of which is the difference in the study’s duration—three weeks for the SARM study versus six weeks for the Testosterone study.

When it comes to building muscle, steroids unquestionably have the upper hand over SARMs.

They are synonymous with rapid and substantial muscle gains, making them the preferred choice for many experienced athletes and bodybuilders.

Steroids exhibit unmatched potency in this regard, thanks to their ability to mimic testosterone’s effects and promote efficient protein synthesis in muscle cells.

It’s not just muscle growth that sets steroids apart; they also offer remarkable improvements in athletic performance.

This boost in performance can be attributed to the increase in red blood cells, which enhances oxygen delivery to muscles, ultimately leading to enhanced endurance and strength during intense workouts.

However, it’s essential to acknowledge the potential adverse effects of steroids, including mood swings, liver health concerns, and the suppression of natural testosterone production.

Steroids, including injectable and oral varieties, come with these risks, which can have long-term consequences on one’s health.

In contrast, SARMs, or Selective Androgen Receptor Modulators, present themselves as an alternative option that aims to strike a balance between promoting muscle growth and reducing the risk of adverse effects.

SARMs have gained popularity for their ability to selectively target androgen receptors in muscle tissue while sparing other organs.

This selectivity is what sets SARMs apart from traditional anabolic steroids.

SARMs offer a more nuanced approach to improving athletic performance and building lean muscle mass.

They are designed to mimic the benefits of anabolic steroids while minimizing the potential for liver toxicity and natural testosterone suppression.

Moreover, SARMs do not convert to estrogen to the same extent as steroids, reducing the risk of estrogen-related side effects.

While SARMs have gained recognition for their potential to enhance muscle growth, it’s important to note that their effects may not be as pronounced as those of traditional steroids.

Additionally, the long-term safety and efficacy of SARMs are still subjects of ongoing research, and their legality can vary by region.

S 23

S23 is a Selective Androgen Receptor Modulator (a nonsteroidal SARM) that as the name suggests, only binds to selective Androgen Receptors in the body. Once these receptors have been bound, they release a signal to the body that will result in more stimulation and thus, growth. S23 is also currently being tested as a potential male contraceptive.

S23 has never been tested on humans, ever, and has only been tested on animals – rats to be particular. In the tests various effects have been found, ranging from muscle gain to fat loss.

The muscles and bones of the human body contain androgen receptors. S23 works by binding to these receptors, stimulating changes similar to that caused by testosterone. These changes include but are not limited to hypertrophy of muscle cells, bone density increase, and perhaps even fat loss.

Conversely, other side effects that are similar to those of testosterone usage are to be expected. S23 is such a powerful SARM with such high bioavailability that side effects such as testosterone suppression can be expected. This is because of the androgenicity of S23 which can also lead to hair loss.

S23 is, without a doubt, one of the most powerful SARMs and should therefore be used very carefully and with great care.

S 23 Overview

⭐️ Top Benefits: Muscle growth, strength gain, fat loss
🧪 Form: Liquid, Powder
⌛️ Cycle Length: 7 – 8 weeks
💰 Average Cost: $54.99
❤️‍🩹 Side Effects: Aggression, hair loss, androgenic sides, and testosterone suppression
☢️ Dangers: Hypogonadism
📚 Best Stack: MK-677 / Cardarine
PCT Required: Yes
🧍‍♂️🧍‍♀️Men/Women: Men
🔄 See Results
➡️ Go to the Full review

  • Better recovery
  • Improved fat loss
  • Massive muscle gains
  • Liver toxicity
  • Cholesterol
  • Hair loss
  • Aggression
  • Testosterone suppression

Which can aid Fat Loss more?

Fat loss is of course determined by good old caloric deficit. Ew, dieting. How dismal. However, you and I both know that certain “special supps” or “bro-tein” as my ex called it, will aid in fat loss.

Ligandrol – LGD 4033

SARMs are very popular for a cutting phase because aesthetics are very popular in the current bodybuilding and fitness world. Ever since Chris Bumstead became Mr. O classic, aesthetics have been all the rave. Young guys see this as the prime goal, and are afraid of taking steroids and rightfully so! Hence, why we see a massive amount of younger guys using SARMs like this LGD-4033 to amplify their training.

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Read Full Sports Technology Labs Review


  • Can increase muscle mass
  • Can increase strength
  • Some evidence shows that it can aid in recovery after training
  • Could also help a lot with fat loss


  • Ligandrol has little side effects, though some anecdotal evidence reports nausea, fatigue, headaches, and low libido.
Cardarine Summary

Cardarine (GW-501516)

Cardarine is also known to be a PPAR (Peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor) agonist. These receptors are located at various sites in the body, one of which is on muscles. Cardarine binds with PPAR and carries out multiple effects such as reduction in glucose metabolism, promoting fat loss, and enhancing endurance.

Cardarine enhances Lipid metabolization, meaning that it speeds up the rate at which your body takes stored body fat and converts it into energy. Bodybuilders often use this supplement when they are prepping for a contest, as it fits very well into a cutting stack.

Cardarine has been found to lower harmful LDL cholesterol and boost healthy HDL cholesterol.

That means that the drug can potentially help people to avoid suffering from heart attacks, cardiovascular disease, strokes, blocked arteries, and much more besides. It’s rare that performance-enhancing drugs actually promote cardiovascular health and well-being, but that is precisely what Cardarine appears to do, making it very popular.

Cardarine (GW-501516) Overview

⭐️ Top Benefits: Endurance and fat loss
🧪 Form: Liquid, Powder
⌛️ Cycle Length: 6 – 8 weeks
💰 Average Cost: $59.99
❤️‍🩹 Side Effects: Liver toxicity and stomach pain
☢️ Dangers: Hepatotoxicity
📚 Best Stack: MK-677 / Testolone / LGD 4033
PCT Required: No
🧍‍♂️🧍‍♀️Men/Women: Men and Women
🔄 See Results
➡️ Go to the Full review

  • Better recovery
  • Improved fat loss
  • Stomach cramps
  • Liver toxicity

But are they effective? Short answer – yes. Products such as this GW 501516 have been known by anecdotal evidence to help with fat loss.

They cause an increase in metabolism because the SARM itself can increase lipolysis (fat burning).

A second method is by increasing muscle mass, an individual with more muscle mass can burn fat easier compared to someone smaller.

In the steroid corner, we have a tremendous amount of options.

The main fat-burning, options are Clenbuterol, T3 (or T4), and ECA. Others like Winstrol, Trenbolone, and Masteron might help a lot, but limited compared to the first one mentioned.

T3 (or T4)

One hell of a name, and one hell of a tool! Cardarine is an exceptional tool for weight loss. It’ll preserve muscle loss while you’re in your diet, but also massively accelerate weight loss. As mentioned earlier, Cardarine is technically not a SARM but actually a PPAR Delta Agonist. It’ll bind to PPAR Delta receptors, and cause the body to just burn more energy.

Usually dosed as a liquid shown here by Amino Asylum, you do sometimes find pills or capsules. Cardarine is also known to increase vascularity – combined with the weight loss this could also massively help with cardiovascular capabilities.

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  • Lowers the levels of LDL (bad) cholesterol
  • Improved athletic performance
  • Greater fat loss


  • Liver toxicity and damage
  • Stomach pain
  • Not approved for human use

Unfortunately, it’s hard to compare fat loss from both parties as studies are limited.

Even something like this T4 from Pure Rawz has limited studies, however, the science behind T4 and T3 is sound, as it has been documented that T3 massively increases metabolism – even burning muscle.

Something like Clenbuterol can also massively increase fat loss and preserve muscle loss! However, due to the lack of science, we need to rely on anecdotal evidence.

Ask any bodybuilder, they ain’t popping SARMs, they’re popping Clen. So. Advantage steroids.

At this point, you’re probably thinking “So SARMs are just losing completely?”. Not really…

What about Side Effects?

Time for SARMs to pull back a few wins after the catastrophic L’s. SARMs were specifically designed to have less of the stereotypical steroid side effects, hence the name “selective”.

The compound is designed to only bind to the receptors that actively build muscle and aid in losing fat, and will be less impactful on your prostate and liver function. But, let’s start at a point:

1) Testosterone Shutdown

Testosterone Shutdown

Hypogonadism is the term used when males no longer produce the male sex hormone Testosterone.

This can be a natural occurrence that happens with age, however, we see this more commonly in men who use exogenous hormones.

When you use something like Testosterone or Anavar, your endogenous Testosterone production shuts down.

This is due to LH and FSH (Luteinizing hormone and Follicle-stimulating hormone respectively) production stopping.

The body sits back, pops a cold one, and lets the new guy do all the work.

This leaves the male in a bit of a predicament because they’ll need to make use of a PCT (post cycle treatment) to restart Testosterone production.

If not, they will have low Testosterone which can lead to muscle loss, depression, fatigue, and libido loss. No hot girl summer for you.


Now while it is very common for Steroid users to run even more products during their PCT like Tamoxifen (Nolvadex), wouldn’t it be great if you could get the gains but not have to put your balls on a chopping block?

Oof. Bad image. Anyways, that’s what (most) SARMs grant you. Because SARMs are not hormones, they typically won’t shut down your endogenous Testosterone production.

In fact, only certain SARMs are strong enough to do that, whereas every single Testosterone or Testosterone derivative will. Advantage, SARMs.

2) Estrogen


Now I’m sorry to say this Mr. I drive a Dodge Demon, but you need Estrogen in your body. Without it, you won’t be able to get an erection.

Wild. Basically, men need a tiny amount of estrogen to remain healthy, and suppressing too much Estrogen with a product like Aromasin can lead to super high cholesterol, libido problems, and surprisingly limited gains.

In a normal and healthy male, the correct amount of estrogen is produced by a process called Aromatase. Testosterone is Aromatized into Estradiol (estrogen), and that is what is used in your body.

Things change when you decide to release your inner Thanos and give yourself one or two cc’s of power stone per week, i.e. steroids.

Because more Testosterone is available, more of it will be aromatized and you sit with a lot of Estrogen. Too much in fact.

This has side effects like messing with your libido, fat mass increase, depression, and crying in the latest Ryan Gosling movie.



Aromasin is a drug that belongs to a family known as aromatase inhibitors, or AIs for short, such as Arimidex.

Aromasin is the brand name for a drug known as Exemestane and it too is an anti-estrogen drug.

Primarily, however, the main difference between these drugs is how they can control and regulate estrogen levels in the body.

When people look for AIs after running a course of steroids, they often turn to Arimidex.

Despite this, there is evidence to suggest that Aromasin is, in fact, a great deal more beneficial and effective.

I would be remised if I didn’t say that too high Estrogen is something lots of steroids users just deal with. Technically, unless you are preparing for a show, you wouldn’t want to limit Estrogen.

So while yes you could pop over to Pure Rawz and get yourself some Aromasin, doing so in the off-season isn’t that smart. Estrogen helps you grow.

In fact, bulls who were injected with Trenbolone vs bulls who got Trenbolone and Estrogen, grew less.

Thus a balance is really good. And, cry about it all you want Mr. Dodge Demon, but most SARMs don’t cause estrogenic side effects.

Because SARMs aren’t pure Testosterone, they don’t interact with aromatase and cause an increase in Estrogen. No need for an AI (aromatase inhibitor). Victory, SARMs.

3) Liver Damage

Organs. You need them, they don’t taste that great, and they make great music in big ‘ol churches. So to understand why we’re discussing them, let’s look at how steroids are digested in the body.

Oral steroids are metabolized by the liver, steroids such as Anavar, Winstrol, and Anadrol.

Orals have been linked to some nasty stuff, transient serum enzyme elevations, acute cholestatic syndrome, chronic vascular injury to the liver, and hepatic tumors including adenomas and hepatocellular carcinoma. Say that 4 times fast.

Needless to say, oral steroids tax your liver dramatically and make your liver values peak – just like you did in high school. But do SARMs do the same?

Ostarine Summary


Ostarine is an orally-active, non-steroidal selective androgen receptor modulator (SARM ).

It’s considered to be the best SARM for beginners and it is most commonly used during bulking and recomp phases.

In a 12-week double-blind placebo-controlled phase II clinical trial involving 120 healthy elderly men and postmenopausal women, ostarine was shown to significantly increase muscle issues, and improve physical function and insulin sensitivity. [4]

Ostarine selectively binds itself to proteins within the body that are called androgen receptors. When attached to the androgen protein, it communicates the message for it to get bigger.

Unlike anabolic steroids, Ostarine does not convert to estrogen or DHT. [5]

Ostarine is legal, but only for research purposes. It has not been approved by the US Food & Drug Administration (FDA) and as a result, cannot be sold as a dietary supplement.

Ostarine MK-2866 Overview

⭐️ Top Benefits: Muscle growth, strength gain, fat loss
🧪 Form: Liquid, Powder
⌛️ Cycle Length: 6 – 7 weeks
💰 Average Cost: $54.99
❤️‍🩹 Side Effects: Stomach pain, headaches, cholesterol increase, liver strain, and hypertension
☢️ Dangers: Hepatotoxicity
📚 Best Stack: MK-677 / Cardarine / RAD 140
PCT Required: Yes
🧍‍♂️🧍‍♀️Men/Women: Men and Women (Lower dose)
🔄 See Results
➡️ Go to the Full review

  • Better recovery
  • Improved fat loss
  • Massive muscle gains
  • Stomach pain
  • Headaches
  • Liver toxicity
  • Hypertension
  • Cholesterol

There was a study published in early 2021 (1) where one individual had quite bad effects after using the SARM Ostarine.

Now, Ostarine has been tested in larger studies to show that it doesn’t have an impact on your liver function. Stronger SARMs like S23 might have an effect, however nothing nearly as bad as oral steroids. Advantage, SARMs.

4) Other Side Effects

Look the list of side effects can go for longer than Game of Thrones did, so let’s just neatly summarize the rest in this little table.

Side Effect ⛔SARMs 💊💧Steroids 💉Winner 🏆
Hair LossNot seen, low DHT conversionDHT’s can definitely cause hair lossSARMs
AggressionVery low, only prevalent in someLow, but more than SARMsSARMs
Prostate GrowthOnly with certain SARMsHighSARMs

So as you can see, SARMs have without doubt fewer side effects. I will be remised if I didn’t mention that more studies are needed on SARMs.

Steroids? No. You have to be diagnosed with hypogonadism in order to get TRT (Testosterone replacement therapy), and then you’ll still just get a Test.

Nothing spicy like Tren. SARMs on the other hand can legally be sold as experimental products, and not for human consumption.

Are SARMs as good as Anabolic Steroids?

If you’re looking at it from a longevity point, sure. From a muscle-building view, no. Steroids have a higher affinity to build muscle.

Do SARMs (Selective Androgen Receptive Modulators) require a PCT?

Some do yes! While most SARMs don’t cause Testosterone shutdown, a select few (the stronger ones) do cause Testosterone shutdown and will require a post-cycle treatment.

How long before SARMs start working?

Most oral products (steroids included) start working within a few hours of taking it. This is why certain steroids are used pre-workout as a workout booster.

Do Pro Bodybuilders use SARMs for lean muscle mass?

No. Pro Bodybuilders use steroids. Because as a Pro you make certain sacrifices, sacrifices that will affect you for life. So don’t do anything stupid.

So, which is better?

First off, neither is. Better isn’t a scientific term, what is the unit of measure for better? Beats per minute? Gallons per mile?

The choice is yours at the end of the day. I was always told, “If you still have to ask “Should I take steroids?” – you aren’t ready”.

And that’s true. You aren’t. In that case, SARMs might be better for you.

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Daniel Louwrens BSc PT

Daniel Louwrens BSc PT | Writer

Daniel Louwrens is a well-rounded fitness professional with over 10 years of experience in bodybuilding and fitness. He holds a BSc in Chemistry from the University of Western Cape and is a certified International Personal Trainer and Nutritionist. He is also a skilled bodybuilder and head coach for Muscle and Brawn. With his knowledge and expertise, he provides personalized training, nutrition, and recovery guidance to help clients reach their fitness goals.

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1 year ago

Looking for domestic raws for PED’s

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