Top 6 SARM Cycles for Beginners and Intermediates

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 becoming increasingly popular in the bodybuilding world due to their anabolic and lipolytic effects.

However, there are no official dosing or cycle protocols issued by pharmaceutical authorities. This is due to SARMs being recently formulated substances that have yet to be approved by the FDA.

This guide will detail the common dosages we see being utilized among men and women for cosmetic purposes.

First SARM Cycle

A person’s first SARM cycle is often an Ostarine-only cycle. This is due to Ostarine having notable effects on body composition (with moderate muscle-building and fat-burning), in conjunction with it being the most well-tolerated SARM.

Thus, Ostarine is known to produce the fewest side effects out of all SARMs, providing a positive reward-to-risk ratio.

Anecdotally, we typically see users build up to 10 pounds of muscle on Ostarine while burning approximately 3% of subcutaneous body fat.

Ostarine Cycle

  • Week 1: 10 mg/day
  • Week 2: 15 mg/day
  • Week 3: 20 mg/day
  • Week 4: 20 mg/day
  • Week 5: 20 mg/day
  • Week 6: 20 mg/day
  • Week 7: 20 mg/day
  • Week 8: 20 mg/day

The above dosages are common for beginners during their first SARM cycle. 10 mg/day and 15 mg/day for the first two weeks slowly introduce Ostarine to the body, with the dosage increasing to a moderate one of 20 mg/day for the next 6 weeks.

Some individuals can take up to 30 mg/day of Ostarine; however, this is considered a high dose and thus should not be utilized by novices.

Women typically take 5–10 mg/day of Ostarine for 4–8 weeks.

Ostarine has a half-life of 24 hours, so it only needs to be administered once per day.

ostarine before and after

The above user took 20 mg/day for 45 days.

He lost 3 kg (7 lbs), notably reducing his body fat while simultaneously adding significant amounts of muscle hypertrophy and strength.

Ostarine Side Effects

We have found Ostarine’s side effects to be mild in contrast to other SARMs; thus, it is common for users to not experience any obvious side effects.

However, Ostarine does have the power to cause:

  1. Hepatic inflammation
  2. Cholesterol alterations
  3. Testosterone suppression

TUDCA supplementation (500 mg/day) can be taken during an Ostarine cycle to prevent ALT (alanine transaminase) and AST (aspartate transaminase) levels from rising excessively.

Furthermore, 4 g/day of fish oil, a diet rich in unsaturated fats, and regular cardiovascular exercise can inhibit elevations in blood pressure.

Post-cycle therapy can also be utilized upon cycle cessation to accelerate HPTA (hypothalamic-pituitary-testicular axis) recovery. One effective PCT protocol is 20 mg/day of Nolvadex, taken for 4 weeks.

Disclosure: We do not accept any form of advertising on Inside Bodybuilding. We monetize our practice via doctor consultations and carefully chosen supplement recommendations, which have given our patients excellent results.

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Bulking Cycles

RAD 140 Cycle

RAD 140 (Testolone) is considered by many to be the best SARM due to its exceptional effects on muscle hypertrophy and strength without affecting aromatization or causing excessively harsh side effects.

RAD 140 users can build up to 15 pounds of lean muscle while burning notable amounts of fat. Users can also increase their muscular strength on compound lifts by 20–30%. RAD-140’s potent anabolic nature means it is primarily labeled as a bulking SARM.

This is considered to be the best solo SARM cycle men can utilize; however, it may not be optimal for beginners due to it being harsher than Ostarine. Thus, a RAD-140 cycle makes for a perfect follow-up cycle to Ostarine.

  • Week 1: 10 mg/day
  • Week 2: 10 mg/day
  • Week 3: 10 mg/day
  • Week 4: 10 mg/day
  • Week 5: 10 mg/day
  • Week 6: 10 mg/day
  • Week 7: 10 mg/day
  • Week 8: 10 mg/day

RAD-140 is typically taken in dosages of 10–20 mg/day for 6–12 weeks. However, anecdotally, we have evidence that optimal results can be achieved at 10 mg/day. Beyond this point, further results may be minimal (while exacerbating side effects).

Experienced users who have built up a level of tolerance to RAD-140, however, do commonly increase their dosage to 15-20 mg/day.

RAD 140 has a half-life of 60 hours [1]. Thus, daily dosing is not essential for peak concentrations in the bloodstream. However, the common practice for many users is to take RAD-140 once per day, especially as it was previously believed to possess a half-life of 20 hours.

The above user took 10 mg/day of RAD-140 for 7 weeks, contributing to a 6.2 kg increase in lean body mass and a 2.8% reduction in body fat. He also did not experience any discernible side effects from his cycle, except for increased perspiration.

His strength also improved by approximately 20% on the bench press, squat, and deadlifts.

RAD 140 Side Effects

RAD 140 will replicate the same side effects as Ostarine, but with additional intensity. Thus, liver enzymes will rise, endogenous testosterone will drop significantly, and HDL cholesterol will be negatively impacted.

In our experience, taking a conservative dosage (10 mg/day) is an effective methodology to mitigate the side effects of RAD-140. Furthermore, supplementing with 500 mg/day of TUDCA and 4 g/day of fish oil will reduce hepatotoxicity and cardiotoxicity.

Nolvadex will also be an effective PCT treatment (20 mg/day x 4 weeks), accelerating the full restoration of the HPTA.

Hair loss or acne vulgaris can sometimes be experienced by individuals genetically susceptible to androgenetic alopecia or overstimulated sebaceous glands. These two side effects are possible due to RAD-140 indirectly affecting natural 5-alpha-reductase levels.

LGD-4033 Cycle

LGD-4033 (Ligandrol) is another bulking SARM, similar in potency to RAD-140. We typically see LGD-4033 produce greater weight gain than RAD-140, but both SARMs produce similar amounts of muscle and strength.

LGD-4033 is, however, slightly less popular than RAD-140 due to its ability to increase the body’s natural aromatization levels, thus increasing estrogen. This contributes to additional water retention, potentially obscuring muscle definition. However, higher levels of intracellular fluid may be preferable to some users striving for sheer mass in the off-season over aesthetics.

We typically see LGD-4033 users gain up to 20 pounds, with approximately 25% of this being water weight.

Some individuals respond better to LGD-4033 and some to RAD-140; thus, it is advisable to experiment with each of these compounds.

  • Week 1: 6 mg/day
  • Week 2: 6 mg/day
  • Week 3: 6 mg/day
  • Week 4: 6 mg/day
  • Week 5: 6 mg/day
  • Week 6: 6 mg/day
  • Week 7: 6 mg/day
  • Week 8: 6 mg/day

Dosages of LGD-4033 can typically range from 4–10 mg/day, with 6 mg/day being the most popular protocol.

LGD-4033 only needs to be administered once per day, with it possessing a half-life of 24-36 hours (2).

The above user experienced exceptional results in muscle hypertrophy, strength, and subcutaneous fat loss. He ingested 10 mg/day for 8 weeks (a high dose), which contributed to his gaining 20 pounds of fat-free mass.

Despite taking a high dose, this user did not report any unpleasant side effects, except for an insignificant bout of acne vulgaris. Interestingly, he did not administer post-cycle therapy, as he did not experience any low testosterone symptoms.

LGD-4033 Side Effects

LGD-4033 will mimic the same side effects as RAD 140, to approximately the same degree. Thus, notable cholesterol alterations, liver toxicity, and testosterone suppression will occur.

Therefore, supplements such as fish oil (4 g/day), TUDCA (500 mg/day), and Nolvadex as a PCT (40 mg/day) continue to be necessary.

LGD-4033 is seldom troublesome for androgenic side effects (such as male pattern baldness), as we see 5-alpha-reductase levels remaining stable.

However, aromatization levels can increase indirectly, potentially causing puffy nipples and water retention in users who are genetically sensitive to high estrogen.

Cutting Cycles

Cardarine Cycle

Cardarine is a PPARD (peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor delta) agonist; however, it is frequently referred to as a SARM.

Cardarine’s main two benefits are fat reduction and muscular endurance.

We have had users experience up to 40 lbs of weight loss in 8–12-week cycles, even on a conservative dosage. Research has also shown Cardarine to enhance endurance by 68% in just 3 weeks in rodent models [3].

Anecdotally, Cardarine’s fat-burning effects are quite remarkable, with it being one of the most potent lipolytic compounds formulated. Cardarine decreases fat mass by significantly improving insulin sensitivity, lipid balance, and glucose tolerance. This consequently transitions the body from previously burning glucose for energy to adipose tissue.

Clinical research also suggests that Cardarine has mild anabolic properties [4], which may contribute to muscle retention when cutting.

  • Week 1: 10 mg/day
  • Week 2: 10 mg/day
  • Week 3: 10 mg/day
  • Week 4: 10 mg/day
  • Week 5: 10 mg/day
  • Week 6: 10 mg/day
  • Week 7: 10 mg/day
  • Week 8: 10 mg/day

Cardarine is typically taken in dosages of 10–20 mg/day for 8–12 weeks. However, we have found that lower dosages and shorter cycles can still yield optimal results.

Cardarine has a half-life of 24 hours and thus can be taken once per day for steady blood levels. 

The user above cycled Cardarine at 10 mg/day during week 1 and 20 mg/day during weeks 2–8. His weight dropped from 205 pounds to 165 pounds.

cardarine before and after 2

The above user cycled Cardarine for 4 weeks at 10 mg/day, enabling him to reduce his weight by 20 lbs. This example shows that low dosages of Cardarine and short cycles still remain very potent.

Cardarine Side Effects

Cardarine is not technically a SARM, and thus it has differing side effects [5]. Cardarine does not cause impairment of the HPTA, and thus endogenous testosterone levels remain at a standard level. Cholesterol levels will also not deteriorate but actually improve on Cardarine, making it a cardioprotective stacking option with SARMs that reduce HDL (high-density lipoprotein).

However, due to Cardarine being administered orally, we do see it adversely affecting ALT and AST enzymes. Anecdotally, this may not be problematic for most users in the short term; however, caution is needed if stacking Cardarine with multiple hepatotoxic SARMs on a frequent basis.

Research has shown Cardarine to be carcinogenic when utilized in high dosages (5 mg/kg per day) for prolonged periods of time in rodent models. Thus, if someone has unknowingly experienced the proliferation of cancerous tumors, Cardarine may exacerbate this condition.

The risk of cardarine-inducing tumors in standard dosages (and short cycles) is unclear. However, we are aware of numerous men and women who are taking Cardarine successfully without malignancy.

It would be reasonable to suggest that the carcinogenic risk of Cardarine may be dependent on the individual’s predisposition to cancer, their dosage, and the duration of their use.

Stenabolic Cycle

Stenabolic (SR9009) is a REV-ERB agonist and thus not technically a SARM.

REV-ERB agonists work by modifying a person’s body clock. Thus, they are formulated with the objective of inducing wakefulness during daylight hours.

Our tests show improvements in glucose and lipid metabolism on Stenabolic, increasing basal metabolic rate. Stenabolic also has direct fat-burning properties, as it shifts the body’s primary energy source from glucose to fat stores.

Stenabolic is similar in potency to Cardarine, making it a potential cancer-free alternative compound. Users can expect exceptional fat-burning and significantly improved muscular endurance.

Most users can expect a 5% decrease in body fat from Stenabolic, when administered correctly.

Stenabolic has a very low biological availability when taken in pill form, so users are unlikely to experience any effects. The most optimal methods to administer Stenabolic are by injecting it or taking it sublingually. Merely swallowing will not be enough for sufficient absorption of this compound.

Taking Stenabolic sublingually involves placing the solution under the tongue and letting it sit for 10–15 seconds before swallowing. This enables a fast and efficient entry into the bloodstream due to its making contact with the mucus membrane and thus bypassing first-pass metabolism.

The following dosages are tailored for taking Stenabolic sublingually.

  • Week 1: 30 mg/day
  • Week 2: 30 mg/day
  • Week 3: 30 mg/day
  • Week 4: 30 mg/day
  • Week 5: 30 mg/day
  • Week 6: 30 mg/day
  • Week 7: 30 mg/day
  • Week 8: 30 mg/day

Typical Stenabolic dosages range from 20 to 30 mg/day.

As Stenabolic has a very short half-life (4-6 hours), it should be taken three times per day (10 mg at breakfast, 10 mg at lunch, and 10 mg at dinner). 

stenabolic results

The above user took 20 mg/day of Stenabolic for 8 weeks in combination with 15-20 mg/day of RAD 140. He lost considerable amounts of fat (5% in body fat) and added approximately 8 pounds of muscle tissue while eating in a 500-calorie deficit.

Stenabolic Side Effects

Stenabolic users report very few side effects; however, a temporary stimulative effect on the central nervous system can be expected. Thus, sensitive users may experience increased sweating, caused by higher epinephrine levels.

Note: Ostarine can be stacked with Cardarine or Stenabolic for further fat loss and muscle retention when cutting (Ostarine dosage: 20 mg/day for 8 weeks).

RAD-140, LGD-4033, and MK-677 Cycle

Intermediate users who have already run several SARM cycles and want to maximize gains in muscle hypertrophy may combine RAD-140, LGD-4033, and MK-677 simultaneously.

MK-677 (Ibutamoren) is a growth hormone secretagogue [6], often combined with SARMs to enhance anabolism and the reduction of subcutaneous fat. Its muscle-building effects are considered more potent than its lipolytic properties, and thus it is more commonly utilized in bulking cycles.

We have had reports of MK-677 (by itself) adding 6 pounds of lean muscle tissue to first-time users. When utilized with RAD-140 and LGD-4033, muscle hypertrophy and strength will improve significantly.

This stack is not suitable for beginners, but for intermediates who have already cycled LGD-4033 or RAD-140 with well-managed side effects.

Such a stack will enable users to continue adding muscle mass after initial growth spurts from a RAD-140-only cycle or an LGD-4033-only cycle.

  • Week 1–2: LGD-4033 (5 mg/day), RAD-140 (5 mg/day), MK-677 (10 mg/day)
  • Week 3–8: LGD-4033 (5 mg/day), RAD-140 (15 mg/day), MK-677 (20 mg/day)

sarms before and after

The above user cycled MK-677, RAD-140, and LGD-4033 together, inducing positive improvements in muscle hypertrophy, thickness, and strength.

These results are typical of an individual who has already taken SARMs, or anabolic steroids, and wants to take a potent bulking stack to overcome a hypertrophy plateau.

RAD 140, LGD-4033, and MK-677 Side Effects

We consider this to be a harsh SARM cycle, and thus cholesterol levels will surge, as will ALT and AST enzymes, presenting significant cardiac and hepatic toxicity. With an aggressive stack like this, we typically see users become very suppressed, requiring an aggressive PCT to recover endogenous testosterone.

The following is a very potent PCT protocol designed by Dr. Michael Scally:

  1. HCG: 2000 IU administered every other day for 20 days
  2. Tamoxifen (nolvadex): 2 x 20 mg for 45 days
  3. Clomiphene (clomid): 2 x 50 mg for 30 days

This trio of medications has been used in clinical trials to treat hypogonadal men with 100% success within 45 days.

MK-677 can cause an increase in visceral fat, causing a bloated appearance in the midsection. Visceral fat is the internal adipose tissue that surrounds the organs, which various anabolic steroids also increase, causing a ‘steroid gut’ effect.

MK-677 can also exacerbate blood pressure due to increased blood sugar levels, increasing the risk of atherosclerosis. As RAD-140 and LGD-4033 will also spike blood pressure due to reductions in HDL cholesterol, blood pressure should be closely monitored during this cycle.


How Long Do You Need to Wait Between Sarm Cycles?

Rest time should at least equal the duration of use. Thus, if a SARM cycle lasts 8 weeks, the individual should rest for a minimum of 8 weeks. However, more importantly, a person should be in optimal health before starting any SARM cycle.

Are the Results Permanent?

We often see fat loss results maintained post-cycle, assuming the person eats maintenance calories or less. Muscle gains are predominantly maintained post-cycle if users continue lifting weights.

LGD-4033 users are likely to lose approximately 20% of their weight post-cycle, which can be attributed to water loss.

Endurance gains from Cardarine and Stenabolic can decline post-cycle; however, the majority of the results can be maintained with regular cardiovascular exercise.

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