anabolic steroids vs sarms

Anabolic steroids Vs. SARMs – which are the more potent substances? Which are better for building muscle mass and seeing faster gains?

While either will net you faster results than going full natty, there are a number of side effects to consider when it comes to using either. 

While anabolics and prohormones can shut down natural testosterone production, SARMs are known for a number of unwanted side effects themselves, including: diminished hormone levels, gyno, hair loss, liver toxicity, and increased lipids. 

We’ll explore the key differences between the two, to help you better decide which one may be right for you. Most people on Reddit or bodybuilding forums will automatically jump to recommend a test cycle or anabolics over SARMs, but there is legitimacy to incorporating SARMs into a workout routine. 

SARMs – Selective Androgen Receptor Modulators

Known as SARMs, these are “anabolic compounds that bind to androgen receptors.” Commonly used SARMs within the body building community include: LGD-3033, RAD-140, S23, Ostarine (MK-2866), and S4. 

SARMs have been studied clinically for uses other than increasing muscle mass and fat burning. 


Among their range of uses, includes therapeutic potential for addressing: osteoporosis, Alzheimer’s Disease, cancer, muscle wasting, bone density, and sexual dysfunction (loss of libido or ED). 

Much like traditional anabolic steroids, they do have their own range of side effects – which need to be monitored closely by anyone opting to use SARMs in opposition to anabolics. 

SARMs are perhaps more appealing than traditional testosterone injections because they are more widely accessible to the public and can be ordered online without any scripts. 

Despite this, they won’t get you the same sorts of results you’d see using anabolics. They can offer an alternative, provided you educate yourself. The comparison, of course, is that people could pay the same for real anabolics compared to ordering SARMs, while getting better results compared to SARM use.

What Are the Differences Between Steroids and SARMs?

Anabolic steroids have been around for much, much longer – since the 1930’s. As such, they have a much lengthier database of research from which we can consult when compared to SARMs, which are a more recent medical discovery (1990’s). 

anabolic steroids

While SARMs are “newer,” we can see that for the most part, their side effects are less prominent. 

The primary concern most men have starting testosterone therapy or running a cycle of steroids is endogenous hormone production shutting down – with its noted impact on the testicles and reproductive health. 

Primarily, the chief difference is that SARMs are selective androgen receptor modulators. 

This means that they bind to androgen receptors in specific tissues. The binding capacity is what makes SARMs different from anabolic steroids (AAS). 

They do not convert to Estrogen hormones or DHT and are believed to interfere less with the HPTA. This means less suppression. 

The Reasons People Avoid Anabolic Steroids – Should You Be Worried?

No. Not if you are being monitored by a healthcare professional – such as an endocrinologist, and have demonstrated that you have low testosterone levels prior to going on anabolics. You also need to ensure you have taken it upon yourself to have done the proper research required to fully educate yourself. 

anabolic steroid capsules

Generally, people seem to opt for SARMs over anabolics for 2 or 3 primary reasons. These are: 

  • Younger; either a teenager in high school or early 20’s in university, while at home with their parents and don’t want to get “caught” with substances like steroids or needles.
  • Extremely afraid of ‘pinning’ or have an aversion to needles. Running a test cycle or anabolic steroid seems more complicated and complex. It is also much easier to order SARMs online. 
  • Assume SARMs are automatically ‘safer’ because ‘they aren’t steroids.’ 

The primary concern with SARMs first and foremost is that they’re simply ‘too new.’ We don’t have a ton of established history on their use or side effects like we do with traditional steroids like testosterone – liver toxicity is well documented in a number of SARMs with prolonged use. 

That being said, SARMs can still have their place if used responsibly and cycled

anabolic injection

Most of the above concerns can be called out. 

Those who are younger and in their early twenties likely have some sort of underlying medical issue as the root cause of low testosterone. Or, they simply have normal testosterone levels, but want to amp them up for faster gains. 

We wouldn’t recommend this. Testosterone therapy is extremely safe when done responsibly and researched, but we would strongly caution 20 year olds from jumping the gun straight to anabolic steroids. 

Instead, they should rule out any other underlying factors that may be contributing to low testosterone levels, and look into alternatives which are less likely to interfere with the HPTA. 

Most SARM use can be comparable to that of running a cycle of Anavar

Anabolics Vs. Steroids – Which One Is Right for You?

steroid pills

Anabolic steroids, or “anabolic-androgenic steroids” (AAS) are androgens that can be naturally derived, or synthetic and structurally related. 

SARMs, or “selective androgen receptor modulators” target specific muscle receptors in fat, bone, and muscle to promote a specific response. 

Many will opt for SARMs over traditional steroids because of ease of access. SARMs can be purchased online, without a prescription from a health care practitioner, and are usually less targeted as pharmaceutical drugs. 

SARMs are not as potent as anabolic steroids, but can still help to promote lean mass, improve strength, shorten recovery time, and most of all — have a much shorter half-life compared to steroids.

Due to their selective nature and shorter half-life, most people running shorter cycles do not see the same amount of suppression that they do with the HPTA compared to those on steroids. 

The problem with SARMs is that they have not been as extensively studied, so we don’t know the long-term effects of continual use for many of the newer ones on the market. 

So, which one is right for you? 

Both have clear benefit, and both can be used safely. This is provided you do proper research into the different types of SARMs now widely available, monitor your bloodwork, and cycle properly

The choice comes down to your need – if you actually have clinically low testosterone levels, you’ll want to opt for steroids and devise a long-term plan. 

For those merely looking to put on some muscle mass or add strength to their workout without the added risk of hormone suppression, SARMs or peptides might be a wiser choice. 

Cody Yurk
Latest posts by Cody Yurk (see all)

Cody Yurk

After several near-death surgeries and a heart attack at 29, I decided to get serious about my health and went from 278lbs to 181lbs in only six months. How? I built an entire team, including a personal trainer, nutritionist, psychologist, physical therapist, and sports masseuse. Having the same team as Hollywood stars allowed me to reach my goals fast and produce insane results.

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