by Mike Arnold
Prior to the release of any new drug, there is always a measure of uncertainty regarding both its efficacy and safety in the target population. This is particularly true of those drugs being sold specifically for off-label use in conjunction with untested dosing recommendations and/or methods of administration. Upon its release, Ostarine met these criteria perfectly. With minimal human testing, a lack of FDA approval, and belonging to a brand new category of medicines known as selective androgen receptor modulators, we could only speculate as to what type of effects it might provide.
Sure, prior research had shown us what type of results were possible in untrained test subjects receiving baby dosages, but as bodybuilders, this was hardly sufficient for revealing its true potential as a performance enhancer. It was left up to us to figure out what dosages and cycle lengths were suitable for straddling that fine line between optimal results and negative side effects. But this was only the tip of the iceberg. Was Ostarine really as benign as the research had indicated? Was it a viable muscle builder in its own right, or was it only useful as an adjunct to traditional steroids? What, if any, effect did it have on the H.P.T.A? These questions and many more needed to be answered if we hoped to possess an adequate understanding of the drug.
With Ostarine now having been on the market for a few years and with 1,000’s of individuals having provided valuable real-world feed-back, we are no longer in the dark on these issues. However, with the majority of writings on Ostarine having been penned shortly after its release, most fail to address these issues sufficiently. Therefore, I thought it appropriate to revisit this unique S.A.R.M by putting all of this information together in a single comprehensive overview.
For those of you who may be unaware, let me quickly bring you up to speed on this ever-expanding area of research. The word S.A.R.M., which is short for selective androgen receptor modulator, is a relatively new category of drugs created for a singular purpose—to provide the beneficial effects of steroids without the negative side effects that typically accompany their use. More specifically, SARMS promote anabolism in both muscle in bone while lacking the androgenic, estrogenic, and progestagenic characteristics associated with traditional AAS. This would enable physicians to treat a wide variety of medical conditions in men, women, and children without subjecting them to unnecessary risk. From Big Pharma’s perspective the appeal is obvious, as safer therapies means new patents, translating directly into bigger profits for America’s #1 greed machine.
The original research conducted on Ostarine, although useful for assessing its effectiveness in the elderly, was woefully inadequate for evaluating its potential as a performance enhancer. This is not surprising when we consider that all of the study participants were not only in their last years of life, but were only prescribed 3 mg/day and did no weight training whatsoever. Under these circumstances, it is difficult, if not impossible to determine how well Ostarine might work when utilized at higher dosages in weight training bodybuilders. Fortunately, with an abundance of anecdotal evidence to refer to, we no longer have to rely on such limited studies.
The current dosing range for Ostarine generally falls between 7.5-50 mg/day, with one’s ideal dosage being determined by goals, experience level, and gender. 50 mg is considered a large dose, with most male bodybuilders electing to use between 15-30 mg/day. However, this is largely due to product formulation, rather than an unwillingness to venture outside that range. With most supplement manufacturers choosing to dose their products at 5-10 mg per capsule, users will naturally fall within the 15-30 mg/day range when following label recommendations. However, even at 50 mg daily, side effects are miniscule in comparison to traditional AAS.
When addressing the subject of dosing in females, it is important to remember that women are much more sensitive to androgens than their male counterparts, making them more likely to experience androgenic side effects at an equivalent dose. Although Ostarine is considered female-friendly, it is not completely sterile from an androgenic standpoint. Therefore, women must exercise caution when approaching the higher dosing range. Due to this heightened sensitivity, most women chose remain at 5-15 mg/day, which has proven safe and effective for most users, while more serious trainers may prefer to go higher.
In terms of muscle gain, it is comparable to many of the milder, non-aromatizing AAS, such as Anavar, Turinabol, or Winstrol. But keep in mind, in order obtain comparable gains in muscle tissue, one must dose the drug similarly. For example, you can’t use 10 mg of Ostarine daily and expect to experience the same degree of lean tissue growth as you would when using 100 mg of Winstrol. Unlike many AAS, gains are water-free, both subcutaneously and intramuscularly. What you see is what you get. This allows the user to more accurately gauge the amount of lean muscle added during his cycle. Lastly, gains maintenance is also high, enabling the user to keep a larger percentage of his gains post-cycle in comparison to AAS.
In addition to its effects on lean muscle mass, Ostarine has also been shown to have a positive effect on fat loss. This is not surprising, as activation of the androgen receptor tends to up-regulate the processes involved in fat loss; an effect witnessed with many AAS. You should not anticipate anything dramatic in this regard, but as a secondary benefit, anything is better than nothing. Although fat loss is largely dependent on diet, many who include Ostarine as part of their program notice a leaning out effect over the course of their cycle.
When Ostarine was first released, many claimed that it had no meaningful impact on the HPTA, but without any first-hand experience to corroborate these claims, the best we could do was speculate. It didn’t take long for the lab-work to begin rolling in, which revealed that Ostarine does indeed suppress testosterone production on a dose-dependent basis. However, even when used at higher dosages of say, 25 mg daily, suppression is significantly less than what one would encounter with an equivalent dose of AAS. Consequently, recovery is a breeze, with most individuals achieving full function after just a brief PCT.
In some circles, it has become popular practice to include large doses of Ostarine as part of one’s PCT, with the claim being made that it will not adversely affect one’s recovery. Many of us use to think this was so back in the beginning, but we now know this is completely untrue. No doubt, adding Ostarine to one’s PCT will help the individual maintain a larger portion of their post-cycle gains, but at what cost? Not only will this compromise recovery, but the improved gains retention rate experienced by these individual is only temporary, as any muscle mass that was artificially maintained by the Ostarine will be lost upon cessation of the drug. Ostarine has many potential applications, but this is not one of them.
Technically, you could get away with using a small dose of Ostarine and still make a full recovery, but the degree to which this benefits you will depend on your level of development. If you are someone who has run AAS for years and has amassed quite a bit of size, then a small dose of Ostarine will have very little effect on your ability to maintain your gains during PCT, but for the beginner/intermediate who is still hovering around his natural limit or thereabouts, he will likely be able to maintain a substantial portion of his gains.
Depending on one’s situation, there are some other benefits associated with Ostarine which might make it a preferable alternative to AAS. Aside from the lack of estrogenic, androgenic, and progestagenic side effects (which means one does not need to use any on-cycle ancillaries when using Ostarine), its impact on the lipids is mild, which is in strong contrast to many AAS. This can be a decisive factor for those who already have poor cholesterol/triglyceride readings. It also appears to have little to no effect the other 2 major cardiovascular health markers—blood pressure and hematocrit. For those who do not plan on trying to become “pro” size and who place a premium on cardiovascular health, Ostarine definitely wins out on this one.
Lastly, toxicity is a non-issue with Ostarine. Many seem to be under the impression than any steroid or SARM taken orally has injurious effects on the liver. This is just not the case. The liver toxic effect noted with many oral AAS is due specifically to a methyl group, which has been molecularly attached to the steroid in order to protect it as it passes through the digestive tract and liver. Without this attachment, many steroids would be destroyed long before they ever made it to the bloodstream. However, not all drugs require a methyl group in order to be safely delivered into circulation. Ostarine is one of these.
Overall, Ostarine is a very interesting compound, which maintains a unique place in the world of performance enhancing drugs and with the impending PH ban on the way, it is one of the few which does not appear to be in imminent danger of being schedule as a controlled substance. Of course, this could all change at any moment and given the zealousness of our government when it comes to eliminating muscle building drugs, I would not be one bit surprised if it finds its way into the next Anabolic Steroid Control Act.