Steel supplement Hard-AF is designed to give you great pumps in the gym and strong erections in the bedroom.
In this Hard AF review, I’ll discuss:
- The ingredients (dosing, mechanism of action and effectiveness)
- My opinion on this formulation
- A brief warning
From their own official website, Hard-AF product descriptions say that it’s made to:
“Increase pleasure and performance with Hard-AF erection pills. It is your go-to product to make sure you are “up” when the time is right. Whether you are a young man searching for your inner edge or an older gentleman looking to put the pep back in your step. This is the finest non-prescription supplement on the market.“
On their website, it has a 4.3-star rating based on 1585 ratings so far, which is quite good.
Ingredients of Hard-AF
The goal of Hard-AF is to help with erections and pumps. Hardness (muscle and erections) is improved by androgens, but mainly better blood flow. Thus the ingredients will be geared toward increasing testosterone levels and nitric oxide.
Let’s see if each of the following ingredients will help with that.
Vitamin B3 (niacin)
Each serving contains 50mg of niacin. Niacin can induce vasodilation and a lot of pre-workouts also contain this ingredient.
Each serving contains 11mg of zinc orotate. Zinc helps with increasing testosterone, inhibiting aromatase, increasing DHT (preventing its breakdown), increasing thyroid hormone conversion, vasorelaxation, etc.
As you can see in the graph below, zinc-deficient rats had significantly lower DHT and higher 3a-diol (a weak metabolite of DHT).
Vertical blend (proprietary blend) of Hard-AF
The vertical blend is a proprietary blend of 9 ingredients for a total of 1.01g. The reason I don’t like proprietary blends is because the ingredients can be easily underdosed. Which is likely what’s happening here as well. Let’s dive in so that I can show you.
#1 Maca powder
Maca is a plant found throughout Peru. It grows only between 4000 and 4500m altitude at the central Peruvian Andes. For centuries, it’s been used for its properties to improve sexuality and fertility.
There are 3 kinds of maca; red maca, yellow maca, and black maca. When it comes to sexuality, it doesn’t matter which one you use. The reason people tend to like black maca more is because it has more macamides than red maca. But, most of the studies on libido used red maca.
The effective dose of maca
In the case of red maca, there are quite a few human studies. Maca doesn’t appear to affect LH, testosterone or estradiol (R). It does increase dopamine and noradrenaline, which is likely how it boosts libido (R).
Dosage: anything over 1.5g will do the trick.
This study found that in normal men, there wasn’t a difference between 1.5 and 3g (R).
A caveat to this is PSSD (Post-SSRI induced sexual dysfunction). If someone has PSSD, then higher doses will work better.
According to this study, maca improved SSRI-induced sexual dysfunction. 1.5g was not effective, but 3g was. There appears to be a dose-dependent effect, so you can take higher doses for better effects (R). If you don’t feel much from 3g, then try 5g or even higher.
Maca on sexual frequency
This study found that using 3g of maca daily significantly increased biweekly sexual attempts from 3.1 ± 2.4 to 4.6 ± 3.7. Sexual enjoyment also significantly improved (R). From 3 sessions per 2 weeks to 4.6 sessions per 2 weeks. It’s more like a “normalization” of sexual function.
Since the Vertical Blend is only 1.01g in total, this means that maca isn’t anywhere close to the desired 1.5-3g range.
#2 Byroviron (Bryonia laciniosa)
Byroviron® is the patented form of the plant species Bryonia laciniosa, which has been used for thousands of years in Ayurvedic medicine as an aphrodisiac.
The key here is in the extract. The following study showed that an alcohol extract from the seeds of Bryonia laciniosa can increase testosterone.
In this rat study, researchers gave the rats Bryonia laciniosa alcohol extract in 3 different doses (50, 100, and 150mg/kg BW p/d) for 28 days (R).
They studied sexual behavior as well as androgenic activity.
Bryonia laciniosa and sexual behavior
They looked at mount frequency, intromission frequency, mount latency, and intromission latency.
- Mount frequency (MF): the number of mounts without penetration.
- Mount latency: how quick the male was to mount when he was introduced to the female.
- Intromission latency: time until first penetration.
- Ejaculatory latency: how long he lasted during sex. This is characterized by longer, deeper pelvic thrusting and slow dismount followed by a period of inactivity.
All those markers were significantly changed, which means that the rats:
- Where hornier
- Didn’t wait as long before the first sexual encounter
- Had more frequent erections
- Mounted the females more frequently
- And waited shorter periods between attempts (faster post-orgasm recovery) (R).
Bryonia laciniosa, testosterone and androgenic activity
The best marker for androgenic activity in the body is the testis, prostate, seminal vesicle, and epididymis. Higher testosterone will enlarge those tissues (not to a pathological degree as with the prostate).
With Bryonia laciniosa extract, were significant increases in body weight as well as the weight of the testis, prostate, seminal vesicle, and epididymis in a dose-dependent manner (R). This indicates that there was an increase in testosterone.
This is exactly what happened. The extracts significantly increased luteinizing hormone and serum testosterone in a dose-dependent manner (R). The 150mg/kg dose increased testosterone from below 1 to over 6.
Testosterone is the main male gonadal hormone produced by the interstitial cells of the Leydig in the testis. The interstitial cells are also the major index of androgenicity (R). Meaning, if they increase, it means that there is an increase in androgenic hormones (e.g. DHEA, testosterone, androstenedione, androsterone, DHT, etc.).
In summary, Bryonia laciniosa can increase testosterone, but it needs to be the alcohol extract at a dose of 810 to 1620mg for a 100kg guy. This is much more than what is found in Hard-AF.
#3 Kaempferia parviflora (polymethoxyflavonoids)
Kaempferia parviflora (aka black ginger), a native plant of Southeast Asia, is traditionally used to enhance male sexual function.
The specific extract is really important for this one. It seems that only the alcohol extract of Kaempferia parviflora has aphrodisiac effects (not the water or methanol extract).
The alcohol extract of Kaempferia parviflora:
- Has an aphrodisiac activity probably by increasing blood flow to the testis (R, R).
- Promotes nitric oxide production by increasing nitrite and endothelial nitric-oxide synthase (eNOS) mRNA and protein expression in human umbilical vein endothelial cells (R).
- Induces vasorelaxation in a dose-dependent manner (R).
Unlike Bryonia, black ginger has no androgenic effects, which means it likely has no effect on androgenic hormones (R).
Kaempferia parviflora and polymethoxyflavone (a flavone in Kaempferia parviflora) also have many other health benefits, such as anti-oxidative, anti-inflammatory, and anti-allergic properties, and amelioration in gastric ulcers (R).
#4 Korean red ginseng (panax ginseng)
2 recent meta-analyses in 2021 and 2022, looking at many clinical studies, found that based on the strength of the available information, the effects of ginseng on erections and sexual function are trivial.
“Based on mostly low certainty evidence, ginseng may only have trivial effects on erectile function or satisfaction with intercourse compared to placebo when assessed using validated instruments. Ginseng may improve men’s self-reported ability to have intercourse. It may have little to no effect on adverse events.” (R)
The standard ginseng dose that might be helpful for ED is 500mg (R).
#5 Niccamomum cassia
Cinnamomum cassia (simply known as cassia and not Ceylon cinnamon) has long been used in Ayurveda for the management of sexual dysfunction (R).
This rat study showed that the methanol extract of cassia significantly increased sexual function in aged rats. It did so by increasing the smooth muscle tissue in the penis and decreasing in collagen level (R). This is beneficial because collagen tissue doesn’t contain blood vessels and can’t stretch, whereas smooth muscle can. A loss of smooth muscle leads to a smaller, harder penis that struggles to get and/or maintain an erection.
In short, cassia makes the penis more youthful.
A few mechanisms of action how cassia improves erectile function are:
- Increasing angiogenesis (the growth of new blood vessels (R). This property is what’s likely responsible for boosting smooth muscle tissue in the penis.
- Increasing NOS (which creates nitric oxide)
- Increasing cGMP, which promotes vasorelaxation
- Inhibiting Rho-kinase (which inhibits eNOS) (R).
#6 Epimedium Brevicornum
Epimedium Brevicornum (aka Horny goat weed) can help a lot with blood flow and erections.
Goats who ate the leaves of Epimedium became horny and that’s where the name came from. Many men’s health supplements contain HGW.
The bioactive ingredient in HGW is icariin. It’s an aphrodisiac and is used as an herbal treatment for erectile dysfunction (ED) in Chinese men.
When taken orally, 91.2% of icariin converts to icariside II (ICA II) by intestinal bacteria.
Mechanism of action of horny goat weed
A few benefits include:
- Icariin increases nNOS in the penis, which boosts nitric oxide production (R).
- Icariin acts as a PDE5 inhibitor (like Viagra for example) and testosterone-mimetic.
- Icariin can enhance the growth of penis muscle cells (smooth muscle proliferation) and regenerate the nerves and veins in the penis (R).
- Epimedium reverses the drop in testosterone induced by tramadol, an opioid (R). During stress, natural opioids are released, and this also lowers testosterone. Blocking these opioids with naltrexone can prevent the drop in testosterone. This could mean that Epimedium Brevicornum has strong anti-stress and perhaps anti-opioid effects, which can help to prevent the drop in testosterone (R).
- Epimedium prevents cortisol from lower testosterone (R).
Human studies on horny goat weed
There are zero human studies on horny goat weed to show its effectiveness. Still, it has, and is, being used in ancient Chinese medicine to enhance sexual activity. So it definitely works.
Most natural sexual enhancement supplements contain it because it works.
#7 Eurycoma longfolia extract
Eurycoma longfolia, aka Tongkat Ali, is a well-studied herb and is referred to as Malaysia’s “home-grown Viagra”. Good Tongkat Ali product are LJ100 or Physta®.
Tongkat Ali’s effective dose
Tongkat Ali can increase testosterone and dopamine and lower cortisol (R).
According to this study, 200mg of Tongkat Ali increased testosterone by 40ng/dl (R). They also saw improvements in sexual function.
This 2021 study looked at the effects of 600mg Physta® containing 8.7 mg of eurycomanone (one of the key active ingredients). They found that it increased testosterone on average from 800 to 924ng/dl in 2 weeks (R). A 124ng/dl increase. That’s 3 times better than the 200mg dose.
Both 200 and 600mg are effective at improving sexual function, but the higher dose will be superior.
#8 Capsorb (sodium caprate)
Sodium caprate (a 10-carbon saturated fatty acid (C10)) is solely in this supplement to enhance the absorption of the other ingredients. It improves oral absorption of compounds with low permeability. Most herbal compounds have poor bioavailability and absorption, thus enhancing their absorption can make a big difference. No studies exist where the above ingredients have been combined with Capsorb to see how effective it really is.
However, I like Capsorb more than bioperine, because Capsorb enhances the absorption of compounds, whereas bioperine only prevents its detoxification from the body.
#9 Yohimbine HCL
Yohimbine hydrochloride is the principal alkaloid of the bark of the African Yohimbe tree.
It antagonizes alpha-2 adrenergic receptors, which then stimulate the release of dopamine and noradrenaline, causing an increase in sexual arousal.
It also partially antagonizes the norepinephrine-induced contraction of corporeal cavernosal smooth muscle in the penis (R). This allows for better relaxation of the penis and better erections.
Although it can be a hit or miss with this supplement as there’s about a 50/50 chance of being a responder or not (R). People either experience an improvement in cognition, libido and erection or get crushing anxiety, irregular heartbeat, cold extremities and sleeping problems. The other downside is that you can get all the negatives, but still get an erection or you can get all the positives without the erection.
According to this study, combining 6g arginine with 6mg yohimbine seems to be relatively effective at improving ED in patients with mild to moderate ED (R).
The usual recommended dose of purified yohimbine is 5 to 10 mg three times a day, but the effective dose could be lower if combined with other erectogenic compounds (R).
Yohimbine peaks in the blood after ingestion between 20 and 30 min and can be fully eliminated within 60 min post-ingestion. So if you do get side effects, it should be relatively short-lived.
FDA warning of Hard-AF
On the 12 of August 2021, the Food and Drug Administration released an article advising consumers not to purchase or use Hard AF!, (a product promoted and sold for sexual enhancement) (R).
Here’s why, and I quote from their website:
“FDA laboratory analysis confirmed that Hard AF! contains sildenafil and acetaminophen.
Sildenafil is the active ingredient in the FDA-approved prescription drug Viagra, used to treat erectile dysfunction. FDA’s approval of Viagra is restricted to use under the supervision of a licensed health care professional. This undeclared ingredient may interact with nitrates found in some prescription drugs, such as nitroglycerin, and may lower blood pressure to dangerous levels. People with diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or heart disease often take nitrates.
Acetaminophen is a medicine used to reduce pain and fever that is found in many prescription and over-the-counter (OTC) drug products. Use of the product Hard AF! poses a serious threat to consumers because it may result in unintentional acetaminophen overdose, especially if it is used in combination with other acetaminophen-containing products. Acetaminophen overdose can cause liver damage (hepatoxicity), ranging in severity from abnormalities in liver function to acute liver failure, and even death. Victims of unintentional acetaminophen overdose may not seek prompt medical attention because the symptoms of liver damage can take several days to emerge, even in severe cases. Acetaminophen may also cause serious skin reactions. Symptoms may include skin reddening, rash, and blisters.“
Summary: how potent is Hard-AF?
Compared to other workout pump supplements, this one isn’t as good. Because it only contains limited ingredients that promote blood flow and enhances exercise performance, like Citrulline, beta-alanine, betaine, etc.
Compared to other male enhancement supplements or other erectile dysfunction medications, I’m going to have to score Hard-AF a 5 out of 10. Although it contains good ingredients, they are likely very underdosed. Since some of the ingredients need roughly 1g+ on their own for the best effect. The blend is only 1g total, which severely limited its effectiveness.
On the plus side, it doesn’t contain any potent stimulant (e.g. n-phenethyl dimethylamine or caffeine anhydrous; as found in their fat burner) that will keep you up at night if you take it before your hanky panky session.
Always remember that when it comes to testosterone optimization, create a solid foundation with fresh food and lifestyle habits. A supplement will never be able to replace those.
Other steel supplements include:
- Shredded AF, which is a fat burner (fat loss supplement) to boost energy expenditure for weight loss
- and others.
Check out this complete guide on how to maximize your testosterone.
👇10 most important fundamentals for high testosterone👇
>1000ng/dl Testosterone: My Step-by-Step Guide on How I Do It Naturally!