The 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 consultation.

Selective androgen receptor modulators (SARMs) are non-steroidal investigational drugs currently being reviewed for the potential treatment of cachexia in medicine (1).

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) is a growth hormone secretagogue.
  • Cardarine (GW501516) is a PPAR (peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor) agonist.
  • YK-11 is a myostatin inhibitor.
  • Stenabolic (SR9009) is a REV-ERB agonist.

The 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, as our doctors have 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 20 mg/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), so novices have a more informed idea of what to expect.

In our experience, Ostarine typically adds up to 10 pounds of lean muscle to users while 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.

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.

The 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, as we find them to be the two harshest SARMs (although YK-11 technically isn’t a SARM).

S4 (Andarine) also isn’t optimal, as its potency is similar to that of Ostarine, so 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 greater on RAD 140. Gains in lean muscle mass, however, will be greater on LGD-4033.

Ostarine and LGD-4033 Stack

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

Ostarine and RAD 140 Stack

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

Dosages for women: Ostarine can be dosed up to 10 mg/day (for 8 weeks), LGD 4033 up to 2 mg/day (4 weeks), and RAD 140 up to 10 mg/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 7 pounds of lean muscle from 2 months of use at 8 mg/day (2).

Ibutamoren promotes anabolism by stimulating IGF-1 in the body, which then causes cellular hyperplasia, causing myofibers to split into two and create new muscle fibers (3). 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 impaired effects on insulin sensitivity.

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

Cutting Stack

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

  1. Ostarine (MK-2866)
  2. Cardarine (GW501516)
  3. 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 is a growth hormone secretagogue. Therefore, neither of these compounds will negatively affect HPTA or cholesterol to a significant degree.

Our lipid profiles demonstrate Cardarine having a positive effect on cholesterol, with clinical research also showing reductions in LDL levels by 23% (4).

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 is also mildly anabolic, with research reporting users gaining 1.3 kg after taking 10 mg/day for 12 weeks (5).

cardarine before and after

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

The Best First SARM Stack (For Cutting)

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

Note: 20 mg/day of Cardarine is sometimes taken; however, we find this to be 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 its ability to reduce 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:

  1. Testosterone suppression
  2. Raised LDL cholesterol
  3. Elevated ALT/AST levels

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

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

20 mg/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.

Our LFTs (liver function tests) indicate that Cardarine (despite being a PPAR agonist) can cause hepatic inflammation. Research has also 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:

  1. Water retention
  2. Reduced insulin sensitivity


RAD 140 and liver support

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

Thus, a duo of harsh SARMs should not be used; instead, one mild SARM should be used 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.

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