5 Best SARMs for Bulking (Before/After Pictures)

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.


SARMs (selective androgen receptor modulators) have recently been formulated as a potential medicinal alternative to anabolic steroids.

Scientists’ main objective when synthesizing SARMs was to replicate the anabolic effects of steroids, but without any androgenic side effects. This has been successfully achieved via the mechanism of tissue selectivity, where SARMs bind to cells that promote anabolism and avoid binding to cells that induce androgenic responses (such as hair loss, acne vulgaris and prostate hypertrophy).

The three main benefits of SARMs are muscle hypertrophy, muscular strength and fat loss.

In this article, we will rank the best SARMs for bulking — from best to worst.

Note: Certain PEDs are referred to as SARMs, but are actually different compounds. We will also include these in the list below, as their effects are very similar.

1. RAD 140 (Testolone)

RAD 140 causes significant increases in lean muscle, remarkable surges in muscular strength and notable fat loss.

Users typically gain up to 15lbs of lean muscle, whilst reducing their body fat percentage by 3%.

Major compound lifts can also increase by up to 30%. Therefore, if someone was deadlifting 300lbs naturally, by the end of a RAD 140 cycle they would be bench pressing close to 400lbs.

RAD 140 is typically taken by men in dosages of 10-20mg/day for 6-12 weeks. Women, however, take 5-10mg/day for the same duration.

RAD 140 Results

The above user increased his LBM (lean body mass) by 6.2kg (13.7lbs), whilst reducing his body fat by 2.8%, after taking 10mg/day of RAD 140 for 7 weeks. He did not notice any adverse effects from his cycle, except for increased sweating.

He also reports adding approximately 20% of weight to his main compound lifts, including squats, bench press and deadlifts.

This user’s results are evidence that users can take a conservative dose of RAD 140 and still experience exceptional results.

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RAD 140 Side Effects

One of the main reasons why we rank RAD 140 as the best SARM for bulking is due to its safety profile. There are SARMs that can rival RAD 140 in terms of its bulking benefits; however, RAD 140 produces milder side effects than the likes of S23 or YK-11.

Despite RAD 140 not being regarded as a harsh or toxic SARM, it still causes side effects.

RAD 140 will increase hepatotoxicity, causing ALT (alanine aminotransferase) and AST (aspartate transaminase) levels to rise. To combat hepatic inflammation, users can take 500mg/day of TUDCA (tauroursodeoxycholic acid).

TUDCA is a water-soluble bile salt that has liver protective properties, as it neutralizes acidic bile salts; made possible by its rich H20 content.

RAD 140 will also reduce HDL (high-density lipoprotein) cholesterol, slightly increasing the risk of atherosclerosis. This occurs due to RAD 140 and other SARMs being administered orally, and thus stimulating hepatic lipase; an enzyme that has a lowering effect on HDL levels. HDL is a cardiac-friendly type of cholesterol that users want high to inhibit arterial plaque buildup.

To counteract any surges in blood pressure, RAD-140 users can take 4g of fish oil daily, whilst adding regular cardiovascular exercise to their training split.

RAD 140 is also suppressive, and thus a PCT (post-cycle therapy) should be utilized to accelerate recovery of endogenous testosterone levels. Anecdotally, our clinic knows of one user who took 17mg/day of RAD 140 for 3 months, and experienced a dramatic reduction in total testosterone; dropping from 750ng/dL to 193ng/dL. Such hypogonadal states are only temporary, with users seeing a full testosterone recovery after several weeks.

2. LGD-4033 (Ligandrol)

LGD-4033 could be considered the best SARM for bulking, particularly among those who prioritize weight gain.

RAD 140 produces lean muscle gains, whereas LGD-4033 produces better overall mass gains, caused by additional water retention.

This extra fluid is the result of LGD-4033 increasing the body’s natural rate of aromatization (conversion of testosterone to estrogen).

The amount of lean muscle built on LGD-4033 will be approximately the same as RAD 140; which becomes evident post-cycle when the excess water flushes out. Around 20-30% of the weight gained on LGD-4033 can be attributed to fluid retention.

Thus, users may gain approximately 20lbs on LGD-4033, with roughly 5lbs being water retention.

Some weightlifters favor the feeling of LGD-4033, due to the extra bulky appearance; whilst others prefer a most aesthetic and vascular look on RAD 140.

LGD-4033 is commonly taken in dosages up to 6mg/day for 8 weeks.

LGD-4033 Results

The above user took a high dose of 10mg/day of LGD-4033, for 12 weeks. He gained approximately 20lbs of lean muscle tissue, whilst experiencing a significant reduction in subcutaneous fat (evident by more prominent muscle definition in the after picture).

10mg/day for 12 weeks is considered a harsh LGD-4033 cycle. However, the user did not experience any notable side effects, except for a slight increase in acne. Interestingly, he did not utilize a PCT as he experienced no symptoms of low testosterone.

LGD-4033 Side Effects

LGD-4033’s side effects are generally more pronounced, compared to RAD 140. 

LGD-4033 users are slightly more at risk of developing puffy nipples, due to higher levels of aromatase. However, this is not a common side effect, in contrast to highly estrogenic steroids (such as Dianabol or Anadrol).

LGD-4033 can suppress testosterone levels to hypogonadal levels, requiring a potent PCT to resurrect the HPTA (hypothalamic-pituitary-testicular axis).

Nolvadex (20mg-40mg/day) and Clomid (50-100mg/day) are effective SERMs when taken for 30 days to speed up endogenous testosterone recovery.

LGD-4033 will also increase blood pressure, via the reduction of HDL and increase of LDL cholesterol. In one study, LGD-4033 decreased HDL levels by 40%, on a small dosage of 1mg/day, after just 3 weeks (1).

However, cholesterol did stabilize, returning to baseline levels after 56 days. Consequently, researchers concluded LGD-4033 to be “safe” and “well tolerated”.

In terms of liver toxicity in research, we see no fluctuations in serum aminotransferases when LGD-4033 is taken in very small dosages (2). However, we understand hepatocellular liver injury is possible if: taken in high dosages, the individual already has a compromised liver, or they combine LGD-4033 with other hepatotoxic medications (3). 500mg/day of TUDCA will minimize excessive ALT/AST elevations.

3. Ostarine

Ostarine is considered a mild SARM; however, its benefits largely outweigh its side effects. Thus, it makes for an effective SARM when bulking or cutting.

A first SARM cycle is often an Ostarine-only cycle; which commonly produces gains of up to 10lbs in lean muscle, with a simultaneous 3% decrease in body fat.

Thus, Ostarine is arguably the best bulking SARM for beginners, who are more susceptible to side effects.

For more experienced users, Ostarine will be more frequently utilized during cutting cycles for muscle retention, increased vascularity and enhanced fat loss.

Despite Ostarine being a ‘mild SARM’, it produces exceptional strength gains; with novices commonly gaining 30-40lbs on major compound lifts.

Ostarine is commonly taken by men in dosages of 10-30mg/day for 8 weeks. Women take up to 10mg/day for 4-8 weeks.

Ostarine Results

ostarine before and after

The above user experienced notable increases in muscle hypertrophy, combined with significant fat loss after taking 20mg/day of Ostarine for 6 weeks.

This transformation is a prime example of why results are not always accurately reflected by weighing scales. The user lost 7lbs despite experiencing notable muscle gain. When a person takes a compound that simultaneously is anabolic and lipolytic, weight gain may barely change; despite body composition improving dramatically.

Note: The results of Ostarine, in terms of muscle hypertrophy, are vastly different for women compared to men. Men will gain up to 10lbs of muscle, whereas women can gain 20-25lbs in lean body mass. Thus, Ostarine is considerably more anabolic for women, which may be attributed to their significantly lower testosterone levels.

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Ostarine Side Effects

Although Ostarine has the most optimal safety profile of all SARMs, it still causes moderate testosterone suppression. Some users do not notice symptoms of low testosterone and thus choose not to run a PCT. However, others can experience 60-70% drops in total testosterone, causing them to take at least one SERM upon cycle cessation.

Ostarine may cause a small amount of hair loss in those predisposed to male pattern baldness. This is due to it indirectly raising natural 5-alpha reductase enzyme levels; causing higher conversions of testosterone to DHT (dihydrotestosterone). Acne vulgaris is a possible side effect for users who genetically produce high amounts of sebum.

As with all SARMs, Ostarine will raise ALT/AST enzymes and skew HDL/LDL cholesterol levels; albeit to a lesser degree than other SARMs. As a precaution users may still choose to supplement with TUDCA and fish oil to negate these effects.

4. YK-11

YK-11 is not a SARM, but instead a myostatin-inhibitor.

Myostatin is a type of protein, known as a myokine, that suppresses myogenesis. Thus, the more myostatin a man has, the less potential he has for building muscle.

Therefore, YK-11 does not act like a SARM by stimulating androgen receptors, but instead induces anabolism via a different pathway. This makes YK-11 an excellent compound to combine with SARMs, as users can activate two anabolic hormonal responses synergistically, instead of one.

Research has shown that natural deficiencies in myostatin can result in 2x the amount of muscle mass of a normal person, coupled with significantly enhanced strength (4).

YK-11 produces lean muscle gains without any additional water retention or bloating, making it an ideal SARM for users wanting to maintain a lean and aesthetic physique.

YK-11 Results

yk 11 results

This user gained 15lbs following a 6 week cycle of YK-11. His dosage was 10mg/day for weeks 1-3 and 15mg/day during weeks 4-6.

He also burned notable amounts of subcutaneous fat during this period, hence his improved muscle definition.

YK-11 Side Effects

YK-11’s power to add muscle hypertrophy and strength rivals even the best of SARMs; however, we have ranked it at number 4 due to it causing harsh side effects.

Simply YK-11 will produce the typical side effects of SARMs, but to a greater extent.

Some YK-11 users have likened its side effects to Trenbolone, particularly in regard to their mood on this drug. Users have reported feeling more irritable, aggressive, angry or/and paranoid.

YK-11 is also a dry compound, and thus its diuretic effects can sometimes lead to joint pain (due to less fluid lubrication). Individuals who regularly lift excessively heavy weights, with few repetitions may be more susceptible to joint soreness.

The most troubling side effect of YK-11 is that it is very suppressive. Theoretically, this should not occur as it is a myostatin inhibitor and not a SARM; however, numerous men report low testosterone symptoms on YK-11.

In cases of heavy suppression, a potent post-cycle therapy is utilized to resurrect endogenous testosterone back to normal levels. Below is a PCT formula designed by Dr. Michael Scally, with excellent clinical success in restoring hypogonadal men’s testosterone levels.

  • hCG – 2000 IU every other day (taken for 20 days)
  • Tamoxifen (Nolvadex) – 20mg x 2 doses/day (taken for 45 days)
  • Clomiphene (Clomid) – 50mg x 2 doses/day (taken for 30 days)

Acne vulgaris and male pattern baldness are also possible side effects from YK-11, due to it indirectly increasing 5 alpha-reductase levels; causing increased sebum and DHT (dihydrotestosterone) production.

However, the likelihood of users experiencing acne or hair loss is largely genetically determined. Thus, they often do not occur in users who are not predisposed to such conditions.

Negative fluctuations in cholesterol and ALT/AST liver enzymes are certain on YK-11, with users experiencing subtle or significant changes in each, depending on their genetics and lifestyle choices.

5. S23

S23 is currently the most potent and toxic SARM on the market. It could rank as the best SARM for bulking when judged solely by its benefits. However, the side effects of S23 can be comparable to various harsh toxic anabolic steroids (hence how we ranked it fifth on this list).

S23’s effects are similar to the anabolic steroid Winstrol (Stanozolol); burning considerable amounts of fat, whilst producing significant amounts of lean muscle and strength (without any water retention).

Both of these compounds are particularly hepatotoxic and cardiotoxic, and thus they are only suitable for experienced SARM or steroid users.

Men typically take 10-30mg/day of S23, in 8-10 week cycles.

S23 Results

S23 results

The above user took 32mg/day of S23 for 10 weeks. He gained approximately 20lbs of muscle, whilst decreasing his body fat percentage.

S23 Side Effects

Feeling irritable and easy to anger are some behavioral side effects of S23. People can also feel lethargic or/and depressed, which may signify the body not tolerating this compound well.

S23 is known to be extremely suppressive, and thus users can expect their testosterone levels to fall into a hypogonadal range post-cycle (less than 300 ng/dL).

Reductions in HDL cholesterol and elevations in liver enzymes are to be expected, increasing the risk of atherosclerosis or cholestasis temporarily.

One benefit of S23 is that it will not cause any estrogenic side effects, such as gynecomastia or water retention.

Conclusion

sarms
When weighing up the risks vs rewards of the above SARMs, RAD 140 and LGD-4033 are the clear winners.

However, Ostarine may be a more suitable choice for beginners wanting to bulk up.

Ostarine allows novices to slowly condition their body to the side effects of SARMs, thus by the time they cycle RAD 140 or other potent SARMs, they will more effectively tolerate such compounds.

S23 and YK-11 are also excellent anabolic substances; however, caution is needed due to them being increasingly suppressive/toxic.