Best First Sarm Stack (Must-Read for Beginners)

Dr George TouliatosDisclaimer: SARMs are only to be used for research purposes, as they are non-FDA approved compounds and thus may cause adverse effects. If you have any questions or concerns, Dr. Touliatos is currently available for consultations.

Selective androgen receptor modulators (SARMs) are non-steroidal investigational drugs, currently being reviewed for the potential treatment of cachexia in medicine.

In this guide, we will advise on various SARMs, and the options beginners have, when constructing their first SARM stack.

Below is a list of SARMs:

  • Ostarine (Mk-2866)
  • RAD 140 (Testolone)
  • S23
  • LGD-4033 (Ligandrol)
  • Andarine (S4)

Several other compounds have also been (unofficially) labeled as part of the SARM family, but are not technically SARMs. These are:

  • Ibutamoren (MK-677) – a growth hormone secretagogue.
  • Cardarine (GW501516) – a PPAR (Peroxisome Proliferator Activated Receptor) agonist. 
  • YK-11 – a myostatin inhibitor.
  • Stenabolic (SR9009) – a Rev-ErbA agonist.

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Best First SARM Cycle

Ideally, a novice’s first experience with SARMs should not be a stack, but a solo cycle. This is due to SARMs causing moderate side effects, and thus it is important not to cause unnecessary damage prematurely, but instead build up a tolerance to these drugs slowly.

SARMs are not to be underestimated in this regard, with our doctors having observed harsh side effects, even from ‘mild SARMs’. That is, if too much is taken too soon, or for excessively long durations.

The most commonly taken SARM for a first cycle would be Ostarine (MK-2866), at 20mg/day for 8 weeks.

Ostarine is often chosen because it is the mildest SARM in terms of side effects. Ostarine is also the second most researched SARM (behind LGD-4033), thus novices have a more informed idea of what to expect.

Ostarine typically adds up to 10lbs of lean muscle to users, whilst simultaneously reducing visceral and subcutaneous fat mass.

Once a user has comfortably cycled Ostarine, it may be time to cycle more potent SARMs, or stack Ostarine with other SARMs to continue making gains.

Note: It is important for a beginner not to stack SARMs during their first cycle, so they know how each compound affects their body. They may find out that a certain SARM causes their ALT/AST levels to rise exceptionally, but they won’t know which SARM it is if they don’t run a solo cycle prior.

Best First SARMs Stack

Bulking Stacks

If the objective is to gain muscle and strength, users will want to combine Ostarine with LGD-4033 or RAD 140 for a first stack.

S23 and YK-11 should be avoided for a first SARM stack, with them being the two harshest ‘SARMs’ on the market (although YK-11 technically isn’t a SARM).

S4 (Andarine) also isn’t optimal as its potency is similar to Ostarine, thus additional results will be minimal. Also, S4 can cause temporary alterations in vision in users, creating a yellow tint.

LGD-4033 is a potent bulking SARM that will produce notable increases in muscle mass and strength. RAD 140 is similar to LGD-4033; however, the strength gains will be slightly more on RAD 140. Gains in lean muscle mass, however, will be more on LGD-4033.

Ostarine and LGD-4033 Stack

  • Week 1-8: Ostarine – 20mg/day, LGD 4033 – 6mg/day

Ostarine and RAD 140 Stack

  • Week 1-8: Ostarine – 20mg/day, RAD 140 – 20mg/day.

Dosages for women: Ostarine can be dosed up to 10mg/day (for 8 weeks), LGD 4033 up to 2mg/day (4 weeks) and RAD 140 up to 10mg/day (8 weeks).

Ostarine and Ibutamoren Stack

Ibutamoren (MK-677) may also be a worthy addition to a first SARM bulking stack, with it notably increasing fat-free mass.

In one clinical study, male participants gained 7lbs of lean muscle from 2 months of use, at 8mg/day (7).

Ibutamoren promotes anabolism by stimulating IGF-1 in the body, which then causes cellular hyperplasia; causing myofibres to split into two and create new muscle fibres. Ibutamoren also has lipolytic effects; however, its ability to build muscle outweighs its ability to burn subcutaneous fat.

Although Ibutamoren burns subcutaneous fat and builds lean muscle, it will cause some visceral fat gain (causing the stomach to bloat and protrude). This occurs due to Ibutamoren’s impairing effects on insulin sensitivity.

  • Week 1-8: Ostarine – 20mg/day, Ibutamoren – 20mg/day
  • Week 9-16: Ibutamoren – 20mg/day

Cutting Stack

There are three main compounds generally considered when planning a first SARM stack for cutting.

These are Ostarine, Cardarine and Ibutamoren (MK-677).

Taking all three will be the most potent stack and is unlikely to cause excessive side effects, considering only one of these three compounds is actually a SARM.

Cardarine is a PPAR agonist, and Ibutamoren a growth hormone secretagogue. Therefore, neither of these compounds will negatively affect the HPTA or cholesterol to a significant degree.

In fact, Cardarine even has a positive effect on cholesterol, with research showing it to reduce LDL levels by 23% (1).

Cardarine is an exceptional fat-burning compound, with it having very positive effects on insulin sensitivity, glucose tolerance and lipid balance — significantly increasing lipolysis.

By reducing the utilization of glucose, Cardarine induces fatty acid oxidation. This means the body will use fat stores as the body’s primary energy source. Cardarine also is mildly anabolic, with research reporting users gaining 1.3kg after taking 10mg/day for 12 weeks (2).

cardarine before and after

The above Cardarine user lost 40lbs from a 12-week Cardarine-only cycle, consisting of 10mg/day for the first week; and 20mg/day for the following 11 weeks.

Best First SARM Stack (For Cutting)

  • Weeks 1-8: Ostarine – 20mg/day, Cardarine 10mg/day.

Note: 20mg/day of Cardarine is sometimes taken; however, this would be considered a high dose (and only typically taken by experienced users). For a first-time stack, such a dosage may cause notable hepatotoxicity.

Ibutamoren is a mild fat burner in comparison to Cardarine. Some consider Ibutamoren a worthy addition to any cutting stack (due to it reducing subcutaneous fat mass). However, perhaps it is not the wisest inclusion, given its ability to increase visceral fat. Thus, Ibutamoren can create a ripped, yet simultaneously bloated look.

Side Effects

All of the SARMs mentioned in these stacks will cause testosterone suppression, raised LDL cholesterol and elevated ALT/AST levels.

Consequently, it is possible that testosterone will reach hypogonadal levels, blood pressure will increase and a user’s liver become temporarily inflamed.

These side effects will diminish quickly upon cycle cessation, with the exception of low endogenous testosterone (which can take several weeks to recover).

20mg/day of Nolvadex, taken for 4 weeks, is an effective PCT that can accelerate testosterone recovery. This protocol is advised when taking any of the stacks in this article. 

Cardarine (a PPAR agonist) will also increase hepatic inflammation. Furthermore, research has shown that very high doses of Cardarine, when taken continuously for years, may result in cancer. Thus, users should be conservative with their doses and cycle duration.

The main two side effects associated with Ibutamoren are water retention and reduced insulin sensitivity.


The best first SARM stack is one that enables users to achieve their goals, with as minimal risks as possible.

Thus, a duo of harsh SARMs should not be used; but instead, one mild SARM alongside another moderately potent compound.

For bulking, Ostarine and LGD-4033 are the best duo for building muscle mass.

For cutting, Ostarine and Cardarine are a potent duo for experiencing rapid fat loss and muscle retention.