The performance supplement market was long dominated by traditional steroids and testosterone. But in the last 20 years some very viable alternatives have hit the market in the form of SARMs and Prohormones.
Both of these new types of supplements have some excellent benefits and in many ways are superior to testosterone because there are less side effects associated to them.
However, one thing we regularly get asked here is which type is really the better choice. There are certainly price differences to keep in mind, but there is a lot more to consider than how much you’ll be out of pocket.
To help you make a more informed decision we have put together this guide that analyses all the pros and cons associated with each of these drugs.
So let’s get right to it and clear up some misconceptions.
What Are Prohormones?
The term might seem to indicate that these are professional types of hormone supplements used by professional athletes. This is certainly something that is commonly mentioned in web forums, but it couldn’t be further from the truth.
You might also see the terms androgen prohormone or proandrogen, which all refer to essentially the same type of drugs. These terms have added a lot more confusion to the mix as many people wrongly believe that they actually contain androgen.
A prohormone is actually very different to all other anabolic supplements out there. Essentially, it is a synthetic substance that acts as a precursor to the actual hormone. They enter the body where they are processed through one or more steps to turn into the actual intended anabolic hormone.
There are many different types of these pro-hormones and you have to be careful to understand what exactly they trigger within the body.
How Do They Work?
As already mentioned, prohormones are products that are synthesized in the body to create an actual target hormone. For example, you can buy products that will be converted into testosterone or oestrogen, and many other anabolic triggers.
The body absorbs these and you gain a significant increase in target hormone levels; beyond an amount that could be naturally triggered through diet and training.
Ultimately though, they do come with a lot of the negative side effects that traditional steroids include. The testosterone that is created targets receptors throughout the body including organs where it can do damage over the long term, e.g. prostate enlargement.
There is also an increased risk of water retention. Some newcomers to these supplements mistakenly identify that water retention as the bulking up process. However, during recovery periods of your training, you will quickly lose that retained water.
Overall, prohormones are effective, but they come with a lot of health risks that are very similar to directly taking testosterone.
How Do SARMs Compare?
SARMs have been around almost as long as prohormones, and since the late 90s have significantly advanced through clinical trials. The main thing to keep in mind is that they are extremely selective in their nature.
What that means is that unlike steroids and prohormones, which trigger reactions in tissue all over the body, SARMs will only bind in very specific places.
For athletes and especially bodybuilders, the target area is skeletal muscles where an increased production of muscle tissue is required. Being able to trigger such boosted growth without having an effect on all other organs in the body was a huge breakthrough in medical treatments.
Now, you do have to keep in mind that SARMs are not as potent in muscle growth as traditional steroids, but in many cases the side effects are minimal to non-existent.
What Results Can You Expect?
When you choose prohormones as your supplement, then you can expect some pretty strong results within just a few days or weeks, dependent on your training plan. There will be a noticeable improvement in stamina, and muscles will grow and recover faster after high intensity weight training.
However, this comes at a price of some side effects that can lead to the development of breast tissue (gynecomastia), severe mood swings, lowered sex drive, increased prostate size as well as water retention.
With prohormones it is absolutely vital to introduce regular and long lasting post cycle times, where you reduce or stop the intake altogether.
SARMS on the other hand have very few side effects, and generally there is no water retention. In some instances breast tissue can slightly enlarge, and a few products have been associated with headaches and dizziness.
The minimal side effects come at the price of them not working as fast as prohormones, and the cost of the supplements is generally higher over the period of the chosen cycle times. Considering though that you will still get to your goals with less of the health risks, SARMs are generally a favourable option.
How Important Is Your Diet?
One thing that bodybuilders new to these types of supplements get wrong is that they don’t match their training plan and diet to their supplement intake. Taking muscle growth boosting supplements is not a replacement for a good diet combined with hard work at the gym.
If you want some serious bulking up then you have to first focus on your diet and make sure you eat a lot. We’re talking multiple times the daily intake for the average person.
And the only way this will not result in an increase of your BMI is to work extremely hard at the gym. This can take multiple trips a day, and certainly will involve a daily training routine.
The obvious supplements like vitamin, mineral and protein are also going to be important to ensure that your body has all the building blocks required for a fast and effective bulking up process.
If you don’t put in the hard work, and your diet is full of crap, then you cannot blame your supplements for not getting to your goals.