Ligandrol, also known as LGD-4033, is a selective androgen receptor modulator (SARM). Androgen receptors are involved in the expression of male sex characteristics, especially muscle growth.
SARMs are non-steroidal anabolics. At the molecular level, they behave much like anabolic steroids but with one distinct difference: they target certain kinds of cells such as muscle or bone.
Research into Ligandrol, considered one of the most potent SARMs, shows that it can help build lean muscle. For this reason, it holds promise for therapeutic treatment of conditions that cause muscle deterioration such as muscular dystrophy. However, more studies are necessary before LGD-4033 dosage, long-term safety, and therapeutic protocols can be known.1,2
LGD-4033 was discovered by Ligand Pharmaceuticals in the 1990s. Exactly when and how it was introduced to the bodybuilding and athletic communities is unclear.
Why it became popular is easier to see: it works. Athletes and bodybuilders who orally ingest LGD-4033 can increase lean muscle mass without gaining fat. Higher muscle to fat ratio is a desired outcome for people seeking to improve physical performance. Prior to the availability of LGD-4033 and other SARMs, some athletes and bodybuilders used anabolic steroids to get those results.
By most accounts, LGD-4033 and other SARMs do not work as quickly or dramatically as anabolic steroids. At the same time, they don’t produce the severe side effects associated with anabolic steroids. The perceived “safety” of SARMs has been a significant contributor to their widespread use among many groups seeking greater muscle development.
Like all SARMs, LGD-4033 is considered a performance enhancer. The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) first banned LGD-4033 and all other SARMs in 2008. Soon after, the National Football League (NFL), International Federation of Body Building and Fitness (IFBB) and most other major sporting organizations followed suit. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) that governs the Olympic Games follows WADA’s anti-doping guidelines and rules.
No SARM, including LGD-4033, has been approved in the U.S. for pharmaceutical use or for use in dietary supplements.3
Further, the Federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issues warning letters to producers of dietary supplements that contain any SARMs.4
Health Canada has also not approved SARMs. In early 2017, the Canadian government issued a warning about the illegality and potential ill-effects of buying SARMs online.5
There is no definitive statement from either the FDA or Health Canada to explain why SARMs are not approved substances. It’s generally accepted that inadequate data on the long-term effects on human tissues and systems is the reason for the agencies’ refusal to approve SARMs for commercial use.
Still, the potential benefits of SARMs has not gone unrecognized. In the U.S., Canada, and several other countries, various SARMs, including LGD-4033 are authorized for use in clinical trials. Such clinical trials are related to the treatment of diseases and conditions that affect muscle and/or bone.
Despite the warnings and absence of government approval, it is possible to legally buy LGD-4033 in supplement form. It’s possible because of loopholes in regulations and laws related to dietary supplement production and sale.
It’s also worth noting that the absence of FDA or Health Canada approval means that products may be manufactured without regulatory oversight and quality, purity, and dosage can’t be monitored or validated.
Ligandrol Side Effects
Clinical studies of low doses of Ligandrol taken for short periods of time have not revealed significant negative side effects.6 Further LGD-4033 review in controlled studies is necessary before the long-term effects are known.
Some LGD-4033 side effects reported by people taking it for bodybuilding or weightlifting performance are joint pain as well as extreme lethargy. There are also anecdotal reports of rapid fat gain after using LGD-4033 for several weeks then stopping.
Frequent users say that compared to anabolic steroids, LGD-4033 libido side effects are less severe but can happen.
Again, without controlled clinical studies of dosage and long-term use, the full extent of side effects is unknown. However, people who have used LGD-4033 and other SARMs for many consecutive months often say that side effects such as low libido, reduced testicle size, diminished sperm count, and joint pain dissipate within weeks of stopping intake.
Among women users, there are few stories of significant side effects associated with anabolic steroids. Those side effects include increased facial hair, deeper voice, acne, breast atrophy, and male-pattern baldness. Most women who self-report LGD-4033 use include cessation of menstruation among their list of side effects.
There are anecdotal medical reports that indicate extended use of LGD-4033 overtaxes the liver and can lead to irreversible damage.
With LGD-4033, bodybuilding results are accelerated. Most bodybuilders who use LGD-4033 say that it helps with both bulking up and cutting (losing fat without losing muscle), depending on how it’s used in relation to workouts and diet.
Knowing what dosage will yield the desired results requires a trial and error approach. It’s advisable to speak directly with others who have used LGD-4033 before determining dosage. By most accounts, it takes 3-4 weeks of daily use to begin noticing muscle building and definition results.
Those who self-report about dose commonly say that with daily doses of LGD-4033, gains in lean muscle mass can be 5-10 pounds per month.
It is widely accepted that metabolic changes induced by LGD-4033 lead to rapid muscle growth and higher rates of burning fat. This is why LGD-4033 and other SARMs are popular for attaining the desired high muscle to fat ratio.
Scientific Research Referenced in this Article
- Chen, J., Kim, J., & Dalton, J. T. (2005). Discovery AND Therapeutic Promise OF Selective Androgen Receptor Modulators. Molecular Interventions, 5(3), 173–188. http://doi.org/10.1124/mi.5.3.7
- Zhang, X., Sui Z.(2013) Deciphering the selective androgen receptor modulators paradigm. Expert Opinion on Drug Discovery. (Abstract). 8(2). 191-218. doi: 10.1517/17460441.2013.741582
- Editors. “Selective Androgen Receptor Modulators (SARMs) – A Prohibited Class of Anabolic Agents.” U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, November 18, 2015, https://www.usada.org/selective-androgen-receptor-modulators-sarms-prohibited-class-anabolic-agencts
- Editors. “Inspections, Compliance, Enforcement, and Criminal Investigations – Biogenix USA, LLC 12/11/14”. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, December 11, 2014, https://www.fda.gov/ICECI/EnforcementActions/WarningLetters/ucm434928.htm
- Editors. “Heath Canada warns consumers about unauthorized drugs sold online”. Government of Canada Recalls and Safety Alerts, April 27, 2017, http://healthycanadians.gc.ca/recall-alert-rappel-avis/hc-sc/2017/63162a-eng.php
- Basaria, S., Collins, L., Dillon, E. L., Orwoll, K., Storer, T. W., Miciek, R., Bhasin, S. (2013). The Safety, Pharmacokinetics, and Effects of LGD-4033, a Novel Nonsteroidal Oral, Selective Androgen Receptor Modulator, in Healthy Young Men. The Journals of Gerontology Series A: Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences, 68(1), 87–95. http://doi.org/10.1093/gerona/gls078