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What is The Best First SARMs Cycle: Ostarine (MK-2886) vs Ligandrol (LGD-4033); Which is Better? My Experiences

So you’ve been training for a while and want to do your first SARMs Cycle, but don’t know where to turn.

You are bombarded by various choices in compounds for your first SARMs cycle but struggle to sift through the voluminous information out there.

Please read our article on how long you should wait before taking performance enhancing drugs (PEDs). We recommend that you stay natural for life or as long as possible.

Usually, your choices — provided you haven’t been tricked into considering harsher compounds — would be between Ostarine (MK-2886) and Ligandrol (LGD-4033).

But which would do you go for?

The Best First SARMs Cycle: Ostarine (MK-2886) vs Ligandrol (LGD-4033)

There will be a few things to consider before diving in and choosing your first SARMs cycle. They are as follows:

  • testosterone suppression
  • side effect profile
  • duration
  • what your goals are (bulk, lean bulk, strength)
  • how much of your gains will you keep post cycle?

Before jumping in on your first SARMs cycle, you have to know what you’re taking inside out.

Experienced users will know how their body responds to certain compounds and prepare to assume certain protocols to mitigate side effects of compounds.

Make sure you have a Post-Cycle Therapy protocol on hand after your first SARMs Cycle. Although some users’ testosterone levels may not be suppressed, this might not apply to you. Make sure you keep your blood work in check throughout your cycle to prevent any severe damage to your health.

Before your first SARMs cycle make sure you read our master document on SARMs before making your decision.

What is Ostarine (MK-2886)

Ostarine, otherwise known as enobosarm or MK-2866, is a selective androgen receptor modulator (SARM) that was initially developed as a means to combat muscle wastage and osteoporosis, by mimicking the effects of testosterone. Since its creation at the turn of the millennium by GTx Inc., ostarine has been used in a variety of clinical trials for conditions including post-menopausal tissue wastage, tissue wastage in lung and prostate cancer sufferers and even urinary incontinence.

Ostarine.svg

The ostarine molecule (C19H14F3N3O3)

What interests us here, of course, is ostarine’s properties for healthy individuals seeking strength and fitness benefits. 

So: can ostarine actually confer such benefits? 

The answer is a very firm ‘yes’; but as with all the other SARMs in this series – ligandrol, RAD140, cardarine and andarine – ostarine has specific uses and will suit some more than others.

Ultimately, you must know who you are, and that includes whether you are male or female, and what you want to achieve, before deciding on which SARM to take. You must also be in no doubt of the potential risks and side effects, which we will discuss below.

The Lowdown — What it Can Do For You (What to Expect on Your First SARMs Cycle)

Ostarine is often referred to as the ‘most anabolic’ SARM, and it’s for this reason that bodybuilders, strength athletes (powerlifters, Olympic lifters, strongmen), practitioners of contact sports, martial artists and gymbros are the ones you’ll find taking it.

All of these groups seek the following benefits:

  • Loss of unwanted body fat
  • Increased lean muscle mass (even in a caloric deficit)
  • Increased energy levels
Jon Anthony SARMs results
Jon Anthony SARMs results in 2 months

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It’s worth noting right away that, because of its anabolic and performance-enhancing properties, ostarine is a prohibited substance and is listed as an S1 Anabolic Agent on WADA’s prohibited list. A number of athletes have been given bans as a result of testing positive for ostarine. These include:

  • UFC fighter Tim Means (2013)
  • Boxer Lucian Bute (2016)
  • Boxer Alexander Povetkin (2016)
  • Triathlete Beth Gerdes (2017)
  • Major League baseball player Frankie Montas (2019)
  • Cyclist Matteo Spreafico (2020)
Hughie Fury makes Alexander Povetkin admission as heavyweight fight is  confirmed - Mirror Online

Russian boxer Alexander Povetkin, who was banned for ostarine use in 2016

How ostarine works

SARMs induce anabolic activity – growth – by directly stimulating the body’s androgen receptors. These are specific sites within the body to which androgenic (i.e. male) hormones, including testosterone and androsterone, bind. 

The activity of these androgen receptors, and the binding of androgens to them, is crucial to the proper expression of male characteristics, including muscle growth and reproductive function.

In the womb, androgens are responsible for sexual differentiation, and then during puberty they regulate the development and function of the penis, prostate and other sexual organs, as well as inducing growth spurts, larynx development and growth of skeletal muscle.

For adults, androgens regulate behaviour, the production of sperm, muscle growth, bone function and aspects of the cardiovascular system.

Androgens regulate sexual function and are responsible, in part, for aggressive behaviour in men. As a result, disregulation or blocking of the androgen receptors can lead to all sorts of conditions. 

Ostarine binds to the androgen receptors and mimics the effects of testosterone, increasing protein synthesis and therefore muscle growth.

This is also what steroids do, but SARMs generally have an advantage over steroids, because they only bind to receptors in skeletal muscle tissue.

Steroids, by contrast, work on other tissues in the body and have, as a result, been linked to all sorts of side effects, including prostate and heart problems.

SARMs are also non-aromatising, meaning that they are not converted to estrogen by the body in an attempt to maintain the body’s testosterone-to-estrogen balance.

By contrast, aromatisation can occur when using steroids or testosterone injections, which upset that balance, leading to problems such as gynecomastia (formation of breast tissue) which are ubiquitous among irresponsible amateur lifters.

Although there is no certified research on the use of this SARM for bodybuilding purposes, research in other contexts indicates that ostarine can significantly enhance lean muscle mass for both men and women [R]. 

Even with a dose as low as one milligram, ostarine can have significant effects.

A study on muscle-wasting in cancer patients showed that a one-milligram dose of ostarine led to a substantial increase in power climbing stairs, and those administered higher doses saw even greater effects [R].

Again, this is strong evidence for ostarine’s muscle-building effects.

Animal trials have also indicated that Ostarine can increase bone density and prevent bone loss, which should be of interest to weightlifters in general, but especially to those who lift heavy weights and are therefore at increased risk of bone injuries including fractures [R].

Of course, it would be strange for athletes and competitors to be taking ostarine, and running the risk of being caught, if it didn’t have the desired effect.

Besides the clinical evidence, there is plenty of anecdotal evidence for the muscle-building effects of ostarine.

It is important to note that anecdotal evidence is often the gold-standard, or the closest to it, that we can achieve in the world of fitness.

As Mark Rippetoe notes, there are no clinical peer-reviewed studies on the effectiveness of a particular dose of the steroid dianabol, but there is a wealth of anecdotal evidence that will tell you what you need to know.

Users report gains of around 5-7lbs of lean mass over a period of six weeks (you should cycle ostarine, see below), as well as increased strength and endurance. One experienced powerlifter on Reddit describes his experience with ostarine thus.

“The first week, I immediately noticed the effects of the drug. At first I thought it was a placebo effect. However, the effect continued- I was not getting sore after my training sessions and I was able to perform significantly more volume work during the training sessions.

“As an experienced lifter, I am not often “de-trained,” so I am seldom “sore” after lifting.

“However, the type of pain I usually feel is fatigue and deep soreness of your body being wrecked from very heavy weight. Sets of 5 at 85% of your 1RM will wreck you.

“With Ostarine, they didn’t wreck me. I really didn’t feel wrecked. I felt like I lifted the next day, sure, but I didn’t have the “hit by a truck” feeling. It was crazy. I couldn’t believe it.”

Although he only took Ostarine for a short period, he noticed serious changes within a week.

My Experience With Ostarine — First SARMs Cycle with Ostarine

The gains you can expect on your first SARMs cycle if you were to choose Ostarine wouldn’t be as immediate or explosive as with Ligandrol.

Ostarine’s gains are less noticeable, but present. However, the strength gains with Ostarine were, in my opinion, far greater than with Ligandrol.

Ostarine made my numbers soar through the roof.

As I’ve mentioned in the past, I was a former powerlifter until lower back problems forced me to rethink my training.

Having said that, I still somewhat train for strength in the bench press.

I smashed an all-time 30lb PR on the bench press after FOUR weeks on Ostarine — and I was training to break my national record, once upon a time. The precise stack I took is called Slyced from Rats Army and contains Ostarine, Cardarine, and Stenabolic.

For building muscle, the gains you will receive on your first SARMs cycle are subtle, but more sustainable.

I experienced far fewer side-effects on Ostarine than on Ligandrol. The only think I really noticed was some tenderness in my manhood area in weeks 2-3.

In hindsight, I wish I had done this for my first SARMs cycle.

What is Ligandrol?

Ligandrol, otherwise known as VK5211 or LGD-4033, is a selective androgen receptor modulator (SARM) that was initially developed as a means to combat muscle wastage and osteoporosis.

As with Ostarine, it has been shown in clinical trials since its discovery by Ligand Pharmaceuticals to help significantly in the increase of lean muscle mass and strength.  

Ligandrol molecule
The Ligandrol molecule (C14H12F6N2O)

Again, as we cautioned in the Ostarine article, you must understand that ligandrol has specific uses that will suit some people and purposes more than others. If you put it to the right uses, you will see very positive results, with fewer of the side effects associated with the use of performance-enhancing substances like steroids. 

You must, however, be in no doubt of the potential risks and side effects, which we will discuss below.

The lowdown

Ligandrol is another anabolic SARM, like ostarine, and is generally sought out and used by the same groups: bodybuilders, strength athletes (powerlifters, Olympic lifters, strongmen), practitioners of contact sports, martial artists and gymbros. The benefits of ligandrol are more or less the same as those of ostarine.

  • Reduced body fat
  • Increased lean muscle mass (even in a caloric deficit) and therefore strength
  • Increased energy levels
  • Increased bone strength 

The anecdotal evidence seems to be that ligandrol may even help you put on more mass than ostarine, but some of that extra mass may be of a lesser quality, i.e. may be water weight due to mineral retention.

Ostarine appears to have better fat loss properties than ligandrol and can be used effectively to gain muscle during a caloric deficit.

Ligandrol may also have more potent side effects than ostarine; although, in both cases, the side effects are mild compared to steroids, unless you use the SARMs at much higher dosages than normal, and even then you won’t encounter problems like an enlarged prostate or gynecomastia.

Ligandrol, as a SARM with performance-enhancing effects, is listed as an S1 Anabolic Agent on WADA’s prohibited list.

A number of athletes have been given bans as a result of testing positive for Ligandrol, including: 

  • Florida Gators quarterback Will Grier (2015)
  • NBA player Joakim Noah (2017)
  • Australian swimmer Shayna Jack (2019)
Accused drug cheat Shayna Jack can return to the pool next year | Daily  Mail Online

Australian swimmer Shayna Jack

As with the other SARMs in our Ultimate Series, the list of athletes who have received bans for using ligandrol is a good illustration of its desired effects.

All are athletes who would benefit from increased muscle mass and strength, and reduced body fat.

How Ligandrol Works (First SARMs Cycle)

SARMs induce anabolic activity – growth – by directly stimulating the body’s androgen receptors. These are specific sites within the body to which androgenic (i.e. male) hormones, including testosterone and androsterone, bind. 

The activity of these androgen receptors, and the binding of androgens to them, is crucial to the proper expression of male characteristics, including muscle growth and reproductive function.

In the womb, androgens are responsible for sexual differentiation, and then during puberty they regulate the development and function of the penis, prostate and other sexual organs, as well as inducing growth spurts, larynx development and growth of skeletal muscle.

For adults, androgens regulate behaviour, the production of sperm, muscle growth, bone function and aspects of the cardiovascular system.

Androgens regulate sexual function and are responsible, in part, for aggressive behaviour in men. As a result, disregulation or blocking of the androgen receptors can lead to all sorts of conditions. 

Ligandrol binds to the androgen receptors and mimics the effects of testosterone, increasing protein synthesis and therefore muscle growth.

This is also what steroids do, but SARMs generally have an advantage over steroids, because they only bind to receptors in skeletal muscle tissue.

Steroids, by contrast, work on other tissues in the body and have, as a result, been linked to all sorts of side effects, including prostate and heart problems.

SARMs are also non-aromatising, meaning that they aren’t converted to estrogen by the body in an attempt to maintain the body’s testosterone-to-estrogen balance.

By contrast, aromatisation can occur when using steroids or testosterone injections, which upset that balance, leading to problems such as gynecomastia (formation of breast tissue).

Although there is no certified research on the use of this SARM for bodybuilding purposes, research in other contexts indicates that Ligandrol can significantly enhance lean muscle mass for both men and women. 

A 21-day study on 76 healthy young men taking their first SARMs cycles found that all the participants experienced increased lean muscle mass.

They also showed increased leg press strength and power climbing stairs.

Ligandrol, like Ostarine, has a very high potency, and doses ranging between 0.1 and 1mg yielded significant results [R].

Animal trials have shown similar results. Ligandrol may increase bone mass and strength, muscle mass and sexual function, without interfering with sensitive areas of the body like the prostate, as steroids do [R].

Total gains over the course of a cycle are generally in the same ballpark as with ostarine. After eight weeks, you can expect to gain 5-7lbs, or perhaps even 10lbs. 

In our piece on ostarine, we noted that, in the absence of clinical studies within a bodybuilding or weightlifting context, anecdotal evidence will have to suffice.

In fact, anecdotal evidence from first SARMs cycles is in many ways the gold standard in such contexts, and should not be treated as inferior. 

Here are two testimonies, taken from Reddit, from users of Ligandrol.

‘I finally gained 3 pounds after only 2 weeks! Solid mass! All of my max weights have been upped by at least 20 to 30 pounds. I’m hitting weight I’ve never even touched before. My wife straight asked me if I was on roids and I said no but close, sarms.’

Another user wrote:

‘I am now a week into a cycle and have the gains of a month straight of me working my ass off… I’ve got my 6 pack back in a week and all the fat on my stomach that was my original problem is now almost non existent. I will post before after pictures so I may prove the effectiveness of this SARM but damn I’m… elated right now. I’ve recommended it to my skinny brothers as well as I know they will gain and bulk up with just 4 weeks of this supplement. Guys, I’ve taken oral gear before and had gyno [gynecomastia – growth of breast tissue] issues almost immediately. So far no side effects’ 

A user from the Anabolic Minds forum, who was almost certainly taking a higher dose than the usual dose most users of Ligandrol take, reported the following increases over a period of just a single month.

  • 12lbs increase in body weight
  • 60lbs increase in squat
  • 45lbs increase in bench press
  • 60lbs increase in deadlift
  • 35lbs increase in standing press

My Experience With Ligandrol — My First SARMs Cycle

For a first SARMs cycle, I put on around 7-8lbs, but, in hindsight, these gains weren’t very clean. The water retention wasn’t pleasant and on occasion made my blood pressure rise.

But it did increase my strength quite considerably — as I will outline below.

First SARMs Cycle Size Gains

My quads have grown significantly; but my pecs have lagged a little bit, indicating a potential genetic weakness.

Training endurance has been a major player in evolving my training.

I have now incorporated a lot of high volume training schemes such as 10x10s to hit my legs, for example — as I can’t go heavy due to my back.

My arms are stretching the sleeves to most of my t-shirts more than ever.

Overall, if I were to guess, I have gained a good 5lb of muscle so far with a fair amount of bloat. Having said that, I have lost a considerable amount of fat — which is why the scales have barely budged.

First SARMs Cycle Strength Gains

It is a shame I can’t squat or deadlift heavy anymore, otherwise I would be dying to test them.

But, having said that, I am chest-supported rowing the full stack for working sets — something I couldn’t do in my final natty days.

The most noticeable leap in strength has been in my shoulders.

My shoulder strength was always a weak point for me as I have long arms.

On my final natty workout, I Military Pressed 225lb for a grinding one-rep max; 6 weeks into my cycle I Military Pressed 225lb for 9.5 reps (yes, I’m still salty AF about missing that 10th rep!).

My bench press 3-rep max has also jumped by 20-25lb — even though I’ve only bench pressed a couple of times on this cycle as I’m focusing on hypertrophy over raw strength.

The most noticeable strength gain estimates after 5-6 weeks:

  • 50-60lb jump in Military Press 1RM
  • 20-25lb jump in Bench Press 3RM
  • 25% increase in chest-supported row
  • Noticeably faster sprint speed

First SARMs Cycle Workout Quality

As a 30-year-old natty lifter, my recovery time was in the toilet; one pressing session would leave my anterior deltoids smoked for over a week!

My pumps would suck unless I ate enough raw garlic to repel all vampires in a 5-mile radius or drink enough beetroot juice to turn my insides bright purple.

In fact, the past 9 months sucked training-wise. I lost my love for lifting as it felt like I was only losing hard-earned strength and mass.

On LGD-4033, my pumps are insane and my workouts have been metaphorically injected with a shot of adrenaline.

Even without pre-workout, my training intensity and endurance are both sky high to the point where I have to force myself to leave the gym.

First SARMs Cycle: Side-Effects

With all good things, there is a catch — and for SARMs it’s no different.

Before diving into this cycle, I had researched the compounds I was going to take, but the side-effects you’ll experience vary from person to person.

The most commonly reported side-effects for LGD-4033 are:

  • Testosterone suppression
  • Raised Liver Enzymes
  • Elevated Blood Pressure
  • Dry Mouth
  • Headaches
  • Proneness to Upper Respiratory Tract Infection

I am prone to stomach problems as I damaged my stomach lining when I was 10. I have to be cautious with certain foods and acidic drinks such as soda and alcohol, plus I have to be cautious with anti-inflammatories/aspirin.

From around week 2, I was having abdominal pains consistent with my stomach condition as I attempted to intermittent fast to keep my caloric intake down. To remedy these pains, I took a daily dose of Omeprazole and ate a light snack whenever these pains flared.

I also decided to buy some Rats Army NAC and Milk Thistle to alleviate some pains on the right side of my abdomen as I believed the compounds may have also been affecting my liver.

From around week 5, my blood pressure shot up to the point where I would experience as I raised my daily dose of LGD-4033 to 10mg. To counteract this, I would lower my dose to 7-8mg a day, do daily cardio, plus supplement garlic extract and niacin.

I did not experience other side-effects; test suppression appears to be minimal with no noticeable hypogonadism (shrinking testicles) and my mood, energy levels, and libido are about the same overall.

We have an article on how to know whether you have low testosterone levels.

Side note: I haven’t been able to get blood work done to ensure everything is order, but this will be something I shall document in future cycles. This is something you should do on your first SARMs cycle.

Appetite

Rats Army‘s SARMs or otherwise, I have not experienced such hunger since my teenage years.

I had been intermittent fasting for about 6 months prior to commencing this cycle — but that quickly went up in flames shortly after commencing this cycle.

This Rats Army cycle left me constantly hungry. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying this is a bad thing — especially if you want to bulk — and I have lost fat in the process.

Conclusion

Ostarine is a dry, milder compound than Ligandrol, which means that its side-effect profile is a lot smaller.

Ligandrol can suppress testosterone production as well as Follicle Stimulating Hormone which means that you might have to take certain precautions if you are prone to hair loss and to restore testosterone levels following your cycle.

For a first SARMs cycle, Ostarine’s gains are far more keepable than on Ligandrol, whose gains may dry up in the post-cycle period.

Ostarine is far less suppressive which means that no or a very mild post-cycle therapy protocol must be adhered to following cessation of your first SARMs cycle.

A lengthy or rigorous post-cycle therapy after your first SARMs cycle isn’t necessarily something you’d like to pursue.

Likewise, losing all of your gains and wasting money on your first SARMs cycle isn’t desirable either.

Depending on what your goals are on your first SARMs cycle, Ostarine is best for the following:

  • a recomp
  • lean bulk
  • build sustainable muscle
  • strength
  • low side-effect profile
  • mild results

For a first SARMs cycle, Ligandrol is best for the following:

I personally recommend Ostarine for your first SARMs cycle as you will keep the bulk of your gains with greater ease, experience fewer side-effects, and require a less demanding PCT after completion.

Disclaimer: We are not medical professionals and we advise that you make sure you consult a physician and take all the necessary precautions before taking PEDs such as SARMs. Many competitions outlaw the use of SARMs; be sure to check with your official doping agency ahead of time.

Don’t hesitate to email us at herculeanstrength1@gmail.com for personalized coaching and a client questionnaire if you’d like DEDICATED tailor-made personal training on strength training, building muscle, losing fat, developing athleticism, and more — all to your liking, lifestyle, habits, and taste!

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