Beginners Guide to Cardarine: What You Need To Know

What is Cardarine? A brief introduction

What is Cardarine

Cardarine, or GW501516, is one of the most controversial supplements of all time.

It is a delta PPAR activator (not a SARM), meaning it speeds up your body’s fat burning ability. Cardarine also increases endurance in sedentary individuals.

Basically, Cardarine makes you leaner, faster, and quicker. Many people say that it unlocks a performance level that you can’t achieve naturally.

Knowing that, it’s no surprise that athletes are being popped left and right for it.

But with all good things, there comes a catch.

GW-501516 was originally studied by GlaxoSmithKlein (gsk) as a potential treatment for diabetes. Unfortunately, it did not make it past Phase II trials after it was found to cause cancer in mice.

That study was in 2009. But even today, over 10 years later, GW remains popular in the underground fitness community.

In this article, I am going to break down everything you need to know about GW 501516. I’ll discuss the cancer issue, what dosages to use, what results to expect, and even share my cycle log.

With that said, let’s go ahead and jump right into it.

Endurance athlete preparing to run over a bridge.
GW-501516 is popular with endurance athletes.

Does Cardarine cause cancer? Here’s what the science says


I don’t typically start a SARMs write up with side effects, but I realize that Cardarine presents a special case. After all, a cancer causing supplement is a deal breaker for most (myself included).

There are three things to look at when analyzing the Cardarine cancer study:

  1. What doses the study used
  2. Whether a study done on mice can predict human responses
  3. What the available data for humans looks like.

Let’s start with number one. The study reports that cancer occurred with a dose of 3mg per kg of body weight.

This alone should set off a red flag for anyone paying attention.

Let’s assume you’re a pretty healthy athlete, weighing in at 190lbs.

190lbs is equal to ~86kg.

86 multiplied by 3mg = 258mg.

That is 10 to 25 times higher than what bodybuilders are using to promote fat loss and endurance gains.

Next, we need to decide if a mice study can predict accurate human responses.

There’s no question that animal studies are an important part of testing new drugs. But this article from the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine points out that rodent studies are not always reliable.

And of course they’re not. After all, humans are not mice.

Lastly, I’d like to point out that I can’t find a single case of someone getting cancer from using GW-501516. Trust me, I tried.

Why is that? You’d expect to see a lot of cancer stories due to how much GW501516 is being consumed by athletes every day. The media would have a field day!

Yet, they don’t exist.

Listen, I’m not saying the studies are incorrect, because they’re not. It’s clear that a dose of 3mg/kg causes cancer in mice.

All I am saying is that there are a lot of safe drugs and supplements that can kill you if you take 10-20x the normal dose.

So does Cardarine cause cancer? I don’t believe so, but then again I don’t have the authority to say for certain that it doesn’t. I personally use it, as well as many others, so take that for what it is.

Other Side Effects

Cardarine doesn’t possess any of the normal side effects of performance enhancing drugs because it is not anabolic. It does not have any affinity for the androgen receptor in the body, and is not suppressive.

A lot of websites classify GW 501516 as a SARM. This is incorrect. We group it together with SARMs because it is almost always sold by the same companies.

Physique athlete flexing his muscles.
Good results come with proper training and supplementation.

What kind of results can one expect to see from Cardarine?


Now that we have that out of the way, let’s talk results. Most people use Cardarine as part of a cutting stack, but it can also minimize body fat gains when bulking.

The first thing you will notice is the boost in endurance. It kicks in FAST.

I tend to struggle with cardio. Always have. When I am on GW, that struggle becomes laughable. I am able to run much longer and at a much higher intensity than my natural state.

It’s a bit of a wonder drug, really. I’ve seen people say that GW 501516 isn’t something that “you feel”.

To be honest, those people are most likely buying fake products.

I don’t fault them. By our estimates, up to 75% of SARMs and similar drugs sold online are either fake, under dosed, or contain unlisted ingredients. That’s why it’s so important to buy from a reputable source.

💡 Top Cardarine Sources in 2024

Make sure you get your compounds from a reputable source. Check out the Verified Source list to find the best deals on high purity GW 501516, Ostarine, Stenabolic and more.

Rapid Fat Loss

It is well documented that Cardarine promotes a decrease in total body fat. That alone makes it a great candidate for cutting cycles.

You see, GW 501516 is king at turning your body into a metabolic furnace. It’s ability to rapidly burn body fat is unlike anything else I’ve ever tried.

Fat burners can work on a handful of pathways. For example, stimulants such as caffeine increase heart rate and suppress appetite.

Cardarine on the other hand works by activating the delta-PPAR receptor. See where I’m going with this?

This compound allows you to attack your fat burning goals from all angles. It accomplishes a vital goal that caffeine and other stimulants can’t address.

I’ve seen people lose 30lbs in a month with Cardarine. Personally, I’ve ran 2x cardarine cycle’s so far in 2020. The first one took me from 14% to 11% body fat, and the second one got me all the way down to 9%.

With that being said, I’ve also seen people lose much less because they don’t take their diet seriously. I don’t have a problem with cutting the BS out of my diet, but I know the same can’t be said for everyone.

Your fat loss results will depend on what you put into your cycle. If you eat clean and keep up on cardio, expect to see a consistent decrease in body fat percentage.

Lower Cholesterol

This study published by GlaxoSmithKline examines some of the potential effects of GW50516 on the body. Of these, it appears that gw501516 lowers LDL (bad) and increases HDL (good).

Increased Insulin Sensitivity

In this study, scientists gave rats 10mg of GW501516 per day. The results show that insulin sensitivity increased in the study group.

This observation could show promise for treating treat type-2 diabetes.

Two Cardarine before and after photos to blow your mind

Before and After

We can talk all day long about how powerful GW is for losing fat, but pictures are a much better example. When I started writing this article, I spent hours looking up before and after pictures of GW501516 cycles.

It was shocking to see how many impressive transformations there are.

Check these out:

Before and after picture showing the results of Cardarine.
Good example of what’s possible with this drug.
Another before and after GW501516 picture.
Another crazy transformation.

How much Cardarine should I take on cycle?


Choosing the correct cardarine dose has two elements:

  1. How much you use
  2. How often you dose

Let’s start with the first one. I’ve seen people get results with as little as 10mg per day.

My personal experience tells me that 20mg a day is the sweet spot. I didn’t experience any benefit going over 20mg a day.

The second part is frequency of dosing. How often you dose is crucial to a successful cycle. Keeping a stable and elevated level of Cardarine in your body at all times will greatly improve fat loss.

How many times a day you dose a specific compound depends on it’s half life.

Half Life

The half life of Cardarine is approximately 24 hours. That means you can get away with taking one dose per day.

I still like to split my doses up between AM and PM, but it’s not necessary. If you want to get extra credit, try splitting doses and see if it works for you.

Splitting doses doesn’t have any downsides and will allow for a steadier levels in the blood.

Bodybuilder showing off a lean physique.
Lean physiques like this one are achievable by following a proper dosage guide like the one above.

Where can I buy legit Cardarine online?

Cardarine For Sale

I’m going to be completely honest with you. Most of the GW-501516 on the market today is 100% fake.

It’s very important that you shop with a reputable source that has a good reputation online. There are dozens of stores that sell SARMs and other compounds, so there’s no excuse to shop with a bad source.

We have been doing store reviews for over two years now, and we’ve seen our fair share of frauds out there. We are brutally honest in our reviews.

Luckily, there are a few good sources out there. You can check out our list of recommended stores here.

If you shop from that list, you’ll have no issues with purity.

How to build the perfect GW 501516 cycle

Cycle Guide

Once you order your products online, it’s time to start planning your cycle. There are two main parts to any successful cycle:

  1. Setting your goals
  2. Diet and exercise

Following these three steps will allow you to plan out a cycle that will get you where you want to be.

💡 Top Cardarine Sources in 2024

Make sure you get your compounds from a reputable source. Check out the Verified Source list to find the best deals on high purity GW 501516, Ostarine, Stenabolic and more.

Set Goals and Make a Plan

The first step seems obvious, but many people skip it. You need to decide what you want to achieve and how you’re going to get there.

Most people reading this will be focusing on losing body fat, so I will use that as an example.

For the goal, it’s best to pick a tangible result. Don’t use a goal such as “look better in the mirror”. You won’t be able to track and monitor progress easily if your goal isn’t tangible.

A better goal is something like “I want to lose 20lbs” or “I want to lose 3 inches off my waist”. We’ll use the first one as an example.

Now that we have a hard goal, we need to create our diet and exercise plan. I’m a big fan of using a journal and writing down things, but you can also draft something up on your phone.

Diet and Exercise

Before you go running to the gym, make sure you create a rough draft of the routine you’re going to follow. This drug is great for improving cardio, so we’ll use that as an example.

When planning out your regimen, you can use generic “checklist goals” such as “do 30 minutes of cardio 5 days a week”.

Some people do better with a more concrete plan, such as this:

  • Monday: 30 minutes on the sit down bike
  • Tuesday: 30 minutes of HIIT
  • Wednesday: 30 minutes of yoga
  • Thursday: 30 minutes on the elliptical
  • Friday: 30 minutes on the stair stepper

You can do either one as long as you are sticking to a routine.

Now, let’s talk about nutrition.

I’m going to assume you understand how a caloric deficit works and you have an idea of how many calories to eat. If not, there are plenty of good articles that explain how to cut calories to lose weight.

Cardarine will help you shed excess body fat regardless of your diet. With that said, I found that my cycles bring the best results when I eat:

  • A high protein diet
  • A lower* carb diet

* I don’t do keto, but I keep my carbs below 100g daily when dieting.

You can follow any diet you want, but make sure to eat enough protein. A high protein diet is essential for preserving muscle on a cutting cycle.

Crossfit athletes doing an AMRAP deadlift routine while using Cardarine.
Crossfit athletes benefit heavily from increased endurance capabilities.

Can I stack cardarine with other SARMs and AAS?


For people who want to take their results to the next level, stacking a SARM with Cardarine can be a good choice.

Since it’s not anabolic on its own, there are many benefits to adding SARMs to your cycle. The biggest advantage is that you can actually gain muscle mass while losing body fat.

There are a lot of options when it comes to stacking. You can read some of our full SARMs stacking guides on our blog.

Cardarine and Ostarine Stack

You can stack these two together for a potent lean muscle building effect. This stack will also promote fast reductions in fat mass.

A good Ostarine Cardarine stack will last between 8 to 12 weeks. Use a normal 20mg on top of 25mg of Ostarine daily.

Cardarine and Stenabolic Stack

Stenbolic (SR 9009) is a fantastic SARM that stacks well with GW 501516. This combo is best used to promote fat loss.

To stack with SR9009, use 20mg with 25mg of SR 9009 daily.

Cardarine and Ligandrol Stack

Cardarine and Ligandrol (LGD 4033) stacked together creates a powerful lean bulking stack. This stack is best for people who want to gain muscle mass while minimizing the amount of fat they gain.

To stack it with Ligandrol, take 20mg on top of 10mg Ligandrol a day.

Cardarine and Clenbuterol Stack

This is a fun stack for people who are entirely focused on losing as much body fat as possible. Neither one is hormonal, so this stack is safe for women and men.

To stack these two together, use 20mg of GW501516 on top of your normal Clenbuterol dosage.

You should slowly ramp up the dose of Clenbuterol to prevent side effects. Taking too much clen at once can result in a bad time.

Start with 20mcg of clen and ramp up to 140mcg using 20mcg increments. Examine has a good guide on how to do this the right way.

Cardarine and MK 677 Stack

This is the holy grail of non hormonal stacks. I run these two together year round.

MK 677 helps maintain high levels of GH and IGF-1 while the GW 501516 will prevent fat gain.

Three real Cardarine cycle logs from actual users


There are tons of great logs available online. Here are a few that stand out:

A cardarine user doing a barbell routine outside.
GW prevents muscle fatigue during exercise.

How to use GW 501516 during PCT to keep your gains

Post Cycle Therapy

Another way to utilize this drug is to add it to your PCT (Post Cycle Therapy).

Doing so can counteract the negative effects of coming off of anabolic steroids.

You see, when you use steroids, your body stops producing it’s own natural testosterone. Low T leads to a lot of undesirable side effects such as gaining fat.

This is why you often hear people complain about muscles “softening” after they finish a cycle.

Cardarine will stop your body from storing calories as fat, so it makes perfect sense to use it during PCT. In fact, I have done this multiple times and have found that it works great.

You can’t replace your PCT with it, but adding it will help a great deal.

Final verdict and FAQ: Should you take Cardarine?


So, what’s the verdict? In my opinion, GW501516 is king when it comes to fat loss and leaning up.

There are lots of different ways to encourage fat loss, but none of them work on the ppar-delta pathway like GW 501516 does.

For that reason, GW is a great fit for any advanced fat loss stack. As I mentioned before, you can also stack it with SARMs to improve your results.

Always consult with your doctor before you take any performance enhancing drug.

What is Cardarine used for?

It is most commonly used for it’s fat burning and endurance boosting properties. Many people stack it with SARMs in a “cutting stack”.

Why was Cardarine discontinued?

Unfortunately, it did not make it past Phase II trials due to internal findings that it causes tumor growth in mice.

How long does it take for Cardarine to kick in?

Real GW-501516 kicks in on the first day you take it. Some people with poor cardio will notice it’s effects more after a week of taking it.

Is Cardarine safe?

Cardarine can cause cancer in mice and rats. There is an ongoing debate on whether this translates into humans. Whether you decide to use it is a personal choice. There have not been any confirmed reports of humans developing cancer from it.

There you go, that’s everything you need to know. If you have further questions about Cardarine, leave us a comment below or contact us here.

Chris Jackson
Chris Jackson

Chris Jackson, co-founder of, is a renowned fitness blogger, physique model, and evolutionary bioscience researcher specializing in SARMs (Selective Androgen Receptor Modulators). His extensive work, characterized by cutting-edge research and practical training advice, has made a leading source for accurate, credible information on performance enhancers. With a dedication to improving the understanding and application of SARMs in optimizing human performance, his contributions have not only expanded public awareness but also shaped the conversation around these substances. Chris's pursuit of knowledge and commitment to sharing it continue to inspire many in their fitness journeys.

  1. Is this safe to take all year round? If not, what is the recommended on/off-cycle?

  2. Would a stack of 20mg MK2866, 20mg SR9009, 20mg GW501516 Be suitable for a recomp/ lean bulk cycle

  3. Well, I prefer not to test this out since this causes cancer on mice.

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