Maximizing your performance at the gym starts well before your workout, if you’re a serious athlete — with a preworkout supplement, of course! The grind is exhausting and having a tasty kick-in-the-pants is sometimes a necessary for a quality workout.
Even folks who don’t take any other fitness supplements often turn to preworkout formulas of one type or another, for the simple reason that they can boost that pump, keep you going for longer with better focus, help you make gains faster (hello creatine), and even help you to recover faster and sleep better!
Once you dive into the exciting world of preworkout formulas, you might find yourself investigating stronger and better options that will give you the upper hand in the gym.
For example, if you are new to pre-workouts you’ll probably want to start with a PWO with lower levels of stimulants so you don’t over-charge your system and get jittery. There are also BCAAs and intraworkouts that often are caffeine free if you’re not a stimulant lover.
If you are a yoked seasoned vet and fully-dosed PWO’s like 4-Gauge and Nitraflex are two of your favorites than you probably also have heard of the Jack3d brand. Even if you weren’t active in the workout scene when the OG Jack3d enjoyed its heyday, you’re still bound to hear about it.
What’s so great about the original JACK3D PWO?
Well, in part, because it was super potent — stronger, arguably, than any other preworkout on the market. Bodybuilders loved it. As Jon Anthony from Masculine Development writes, the original Jack3d formula “was essentially legal meth”. “It was strong as FUCK,” he adds, “and gave you an incredible workout experience”.
That’s not the full story, though. Jack3d (that’s pronounced “jacked”, by the way) is also famous — or infamous, depending on who you are — because of what happened next.
To boil things down to their essence, the Jack3d Original Formula was banned, but its parent company, USP Labs, still makes a pretty sick selection of preworkouts that remain in the FDA’s good graces.
Here’s what you need to know about the original version and how it compares to the newer versions.
What Was in the Jack3d Original Preworkout Formula?
The original Jack3d preworkout contain a “proprietary blend” of ingredients. If you’ve ever heard that Coca-Cola’s original recipe is such a closely-guarded trade secret that it’s kept in a physical and extremely secure vault somewhere, where it’s protected by three battalions of specially-trained ninja, or something like that, that’s basically what “proprietary blend” means.
When companies have formulated a unique recipe that they want to keep out of their competitors’ hands, they are not obliged to essentially dish the recipe out to everyone on the label — by showing exactly what’s in a product and in what quantities.
We’re not huge fans of proprietary blends because it gives unscrupulous companies the ability to short-change you in terms of dosages of the effective/active ingredients and fill it with cheap filler ingredients. 95% of the time we recommend transparently labelled pre-workouts like PEScience, Transparent Labs, or Genius PRE.
We do know what USP Labs listed on the label of the original Jack3d preworkout formula, though:
- Beta alanine
- Arginine alpha-ketoglutarate
- Creatine monohydrate
So far, so run of the mill, pretty much the same as many lower price point PWOs like Cellucor’s C4 or Musclepharm Assault. The “secret sauce” that made Jack3d so strong was 1,3 Dimethylamylamine, more commonly known as dimethylamylamine or simply DMAA.
Sometimes compared to Ephedrine, a strong stimulant found in some cough medications and also very much used as a street drug, DMAA is what originally made Jack3d so popular in the bodybuilding community. It was intense to put it mildly..
This love story would ultimately have a bitter ending that culminated in a ban on DMAA and the seizure of millions of dollars’ worth of Jack3d containers.
Why Was the Jack3d Original Formula Banned?
In the United States, dietary supplements (including preworkouts) do not specifically have to be FDA-approved before they can be marketed and sold. They do have to be clearly labeled, can’t make unproven or misleading health claims, and need to use ingredients that are generally recognized as safe. When a manufacturer wants to include a brand new ingredient that’s not already on the FDA’s radar, they’re required to ask for permission.
None of this means that the Food and Drug Administration can’t investigate dietary supplements or try to get them recalled after they’ve already entered the market. In fact, the FDA is obliged to follow up on consumer complaints. Concerns over DMAA soon started mounting, and they weren’t just related to Jack3d.
As of August 2018, the Food and Drug Administration’s dedicated page, in which it warns consumers to stay away from DMAA, explains that the stimulant has been linked (especially in conjunction with caffeine, which the original Jack3d also had plenty of) with:
- Narrowed blood vessels and arteries, which can cause your blood pressure to shoot up
- “Cardiovascular problems such as shortness of breath, arrhythmias, tightening in the chest, and heart attack”
- “Other neurological and psychological conditions.”
As a result of these discoveries, DMAA is no longer considered an appropriate ingredient for dietary supplements, and it’s not used in cough medications anymore, either. The FDA makes this very clear when it says: “DMAA-containing products marketed as dietary supplements are illegal and their marketing violates the law.”
So, what happens when a particular ingredient is banned? Basically, the FDA sends the company a scary letter to stop using that ingredient, and initially hopes that the company will comply. If they don’t, the FDA can seize the product. That’s what happened to the Jack3d Original Formula. In the end, USP Labs had to destroy $8 million worth of Jack3d, and the company had no choice but to stop putting DMAA in their preworkouts.
Jack3d Returns: Is the Advanced Preworkout Formula Any Good?
USP Labs didn’t give up their chance to make awesome preworkout formulas after the OG Jack3d was banned. They introduced several different options — including the Jack3d Advanced Formula and the Jack3d Micro Formula.
The Jack3d Advanced Formula was re-formulated to become fully DMAA-free. Instead, it had two new ingredients. Yohimbe is a herb that boosts testosterone production and endurance, while Higenamine (Norcoclaurine HCL) helps with that pump. Neither as intense as DMAA though.
The Micro Formula was best suited to folks who just want the essentials, meanwhile. This Jack3d formula contained Arginine, L-Citrulline, and grape seed extract. If you needed more, you could get it naturally through your whole food diet.
Is the original Jack3d still out there? Maybe. Some websites claim to sell it, and you might find it in places like Craigslist, too. Although we don’t advise either because there is no way to know if you are getting the legitimate product or something else.
Given how much time has elapsed since the original Jack3d scandal and how long USP Labs has been closed anything you buy online is likely to either be expired or fake.
If you come across it, keep in mind that the original Jack3d contains an ingredient that might make your performance skyrocket, but that could also potentially kill you.
In addition, even before it was banned, due to sheer popularity and hype, not every product advertised was actually the Original Jack3d Preworkout Formula. You could be buying something even shadier. In short, it’s just not worth the risk.
Serious athletes might be serious about their preworkout formulas, but we all want to be safe as we max our gains and endurance, too, right? Because the preworkout market is so competitive, the next big (but safe) ingredient might be just around the corner.
- 375 MG CAFFEINE, 375 MG N-PHENETHYL DIMETHYLAMINE CITRATE - Laser focus and a substantial increase in energy levels. In conjunction with one another, this combination of stimulants mimics the actions of adrenaline, noradrenaline, dopamine, and serotonin...
- INSANE ENERGY AND ENDURANCE. One of the strongest pre workouts ever created, I am God is formulated to push your workout limits. Loaded with caffeine, DMAE, and Beta-alanine, this high stim pre-workout will increase your stamina, endurance and strength on...
- NOW WITH NITROSIGINE FOR EVEN GREATER PUMPS!
Good Jack3d Alternatives for 2023
There are a lot of really great alternatives on the market right now that people are raving about in even larger numbers than they were the original Jack3d. Gorilla Mode Stim from Gorilla Mind backed by gangsta Derek from More Plates More Dates is probably the hottest among the “stimulant junkies” within the bodybuilding community.
Alternatively Insane Labz “I am God” pre-workout is known to be particularly intense and of course, our long-time favorite from Germany, GAT’s Nitraflex always gets us in the zone and has been our go-to on hard-to-get-out-of-bed-and-to-the-gym days for years.
The supplement industry is always moving and new kick ass ingredients come and go. Are you super hyped on a particular brand? Let us know in the comments below, we and our readers are always looking for fresh recommendations and real-world first-hand reviews from people like you!
Last update on 2023-06-07 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
To ban something on the basis of “general safety'” means it needs to make consistent logical sense. To ban DMAA, and not caffeine or other stims with the exact same cardiovascular effects.. pretty asinine and obviously manipulative.