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SARMs vs. Peptides

SARMs vs. Peptides:Understanding The Differences For Better Results

SARMs and peptides are buzzwords in the fitness and bodybuilding industries. Everyone wants to know what these technologies offer, how to use them, and, ultimately, which delivers the best results. What’s interesting about these compounds is they both have the potential to enhance or replace anabolic steroids in the elite bodybuilder’s stack. That’s because they offer novel biological channels for targeted, enhanced muscle growth.But which is better? That’s the topic we address in this post. We look at how each option enhances results in the gym and whether you should use them together.

Why SARMs And Peptides Are Such A Hot Topic In Bodybuilding Circles

For years, bodybuilders relied on protein, creatine, and anabolic steroids to achieve results. But the desire for an edge remained. Many competitors weren’t happy with their physiques even after doing everything right (and following the routines of champions).

The issue is biological. Some bodybuilders find it easier to overcome innate bodily constraints than others. Even the best classic regimens can go to waste if an athlete’s body refuses to play ball.

Furthermore, many bodybuilders have concerns about the long-term impact of anabolic steroids on their health. Some would prefer the same muscle-building results in a safer package.

That’s where SARMs and peptides could help. These compounds represent a step up in the collective understanding of hypertrophy. Users can address innate biological limits on muscle growth and benefit from using more precise methods with fewer off-target effects.

Knowing Your Options: SARMs And Peptides

SARMs target androgen receptors in muscle and bone tissue, similar to testosterone. However, they are more precise, meaning users could experience fewer side effects.

Furthermore, SARMs affect muscle and bone strength simultaneously. The activity may stimulate the body more, encouraging it to increase muscle size by extra.

Critically, SARMs are synthetic compounds. Laboratories must make them from primary constituents.

By contrast, peptides are natural molecules made of chains of amino acids, the building blocks of proteins. The compounds play an essential role in anabolism by regulating hormones and influencing muscle repair.

Theorists propose peptides can assist muscle-building by stimulating growth hormone release beyond other strategies, such as eating protein or intermittent fasting.

SARMs vs. Peptides: Which Is Best?

SARMs and peptides are vying for attention in bodybuilding, but which is better? In this section, we find out. We look at their main differences, muscle-building potential, side effects, and whether they are legal.

Round 1: Mode Of Action


SARMs and peptides work to build muscle in different ways. Researchers are still figuring out the details in the lab so the science is patchy

SARMs are special chemical keys that only fit certain locks in human tissues. These enable them to offer similar benefits to testosterone but without many of the downsides.

For example, when SARMs enter cells, investigators think they attract various “helper” and “blocker” proteins. Which they draw depends on the cell type. For instance, they might lure more helpers in muscle cells and more blockers in prostate cells.

This mechanism of action is why the community is excited about SARMs. These compounds supply stimulation where bodybuilders want it, unlike testosterone which tends to be more indiscriminate.


Peptides are a broad array of compounds and work through different channels. Bodybuilders care most about the peptides class that falls under growth hormone secretagogues (GHS). These stimulate human growth hormone (GH), a chemical associated with superior muscle mass, endurance, leanness, and strength.

In the 1980s, athletes took growth hormones directly. However, safety concerns led many sporting bodies to ban them. Now, many believe peptides are better because they stimulate the body to produce growth hormone instead of relying on an external source.

Various peptide types exist for bodybuilding. One group is the growth hormone peptides (GHRPs), including GHRP-1, GHRP-2, GHRP-3, GHRP-4, GHRP-5, GHRP-6, and hexarelin. Researchers believe these peptides affect GH production through insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1) production. The higher the latter hormone boosts the release of GH, the more muscle growth potential.

Studies show these increase the release of human growth hormone in vivo. However, whether GHRPs generate real results (such as larger muscles) is still under investigation.

Insulin-like growth factor binding proteins (IGFBP) are another class of peptides bodybuilders care about. Researchers believe they are effective because they selectively compete with IGF-1 for special binding sites in the bloodstream. Adding IGFBP to the system may increase the amount of free IGF-1 in the blood, making more of it available to muscle tissues.

Finally, bodybuilders may take additional peptides with anti-inflammatory properties. These compounds may reduce inflammation and muscle soreness, allowing bodybuilders to return to the gym faster.

Round 2: Benefits For Muscle Building

Those were the mechanisms for SARMs and peptides, but which gets the most results?


SARMs offer similar muscle-building results as testosterone. Those using them can expect increased lean muscle mass, reduced body fat levels, higher strength, and better recovery. SARMs also have a short half-life, meaning they don’t linger long after they do their work, unlike anabolic steroids that accumulate in the testicles and other regions.

Consequently, the effects of SARMs on muscle-building can be substantial. For example, one study published in the BMJ found that short-term use increased leg strength when expressed as a percent of predicted. Another paper found that “SARMs are safe and efficacious in increasing lean body mass and possibly strength and stair climbing power.” However, the researchers also suggested that strength training was essential to “translate the physiological benefits of SARMs into functional improvements.”

Unfortunately for strength athletes and bodybuilders, most research into SARMs focuses on tackling chronic diseases, like COPD. Therefore, we are still waiting for large-scale intervention trials.


Peptides may also increase muscle strength and size, but, again, the research is still in its infancy. In 2019, a study found peptide injections increased the level of GHRP-6 in the bloodstream and distributed around the body. However, it didn’t test whether it led to improved athletic outcomes. Other studies show that the body tolerates growth hormone secretagogues well and they may increase fat-free mass, but researchers are still waiting to see if they can build muscle.

Round 3: Side Effects

As with any bodybuilding supplement, SARMs and peptides that alter hormones have side effects. These are usually what determine whether athletes use them.


Some researchers believe SARMs have fewer side effects than conventional testosterone. The drug’s targeted nature reduces off-target risks significantly, such as smaller testicles, sleep apnea, liver damage, and blood clots. Even so, there are risks, including increased risk of cardiovascular disease, sleep disturbances, and sexual dysfunction.


Peptides have similar risks. Patients often experience fatigue, insomnia, headaches, nausea, and increased appetite. However, the specific symptoms depend on the peptides used.

Round 4: The Legality

Finally, it is worth considering the legality of using these supplements. Historically, testosterone fell into a gray area, but what about these new compounds?


The FDA does not approve SARMs for bodybuilding in the U.S. Consequently, it is illegal to buy products labeled for human consumption or marketed as a dietary supplement. However, the

purchase of SARMs is legal for research purposes.

With that said, SARM production is largely unregulated. Consequently, it is up to you whether you use them.


The story is similar for peptide hormones. Selling them as a dietary supplement is illegal but most are obtainable through other channels.

With that said, the number of peptide hormones on the WADA Prohibited list is expanding 

regularly. And even if the list doesn’t mention a specific compound, authorities may still ban it if it is structurally or biologically similar.

Comparing SARMs With Peptides For Bodybuilding

The following table provides a comprehensive comparison of SARMs and peptides, based on the prior discussion:

SARMs Peptides
Origin Synthetic; lab-created Natural or synthetic
Mechanism of action Mimics the effect of testosterone on select androgen receptors while sparing othersVarious mechanisms depending on protein structure, including GH stimulation, improved nutrient uptake, and lower inflammation
Benefits for muscle building Increased muscle strength, greater fat-free lean body mass, enhanced recoveryIncreased muscle mass and strength, higher nutrient update, faster recovery (including injury healing)
Research on effectiveness for bodybuildersLimited. Safety and efficacy are not guaranteed. Limited. Safety and efficacy are not guaranteed.
Side effects Potentially less severe than steroids. Varies depending on the peptide chosen; minimal effects such as
nausea and headaches
Legality Illegal to sell as a supplement; available as a research productIllegal to sell as a supplement; available on prescription

So, Which Is Best: SARMs Or Peptides?

SARMs and peptides are exciting because they provide bodybuilders and strength athletes opportunities to increase their gains without changing anything else in their routines. However, which you choose will depend on your preferences.

Many bodybuilders prefer peptides because they offer a more natural approach. However, those wanting faster gains might opt for SARMs. These mimic testosterone while potentially minimizing the effects through selective action.

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