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As someone who’s been involved in the fitness industry for nearly a decade, let me tell you that a lot of supplements are scams. There’s one that every bro and his cousin recommends however, and that’s the C4 pre workout. Does it live up to the hype, though?
They claim that it’s how you “get big bro,” but is it really? Well in my experience, C4 pre workout isn’t necessarily BAD, but it’s certainly not GOOD by any means. That being said, thanks to expert marketing, great branding, and a lot of hype, they’ve managed to catapult it to the top selling pre-workout of all time.
When you first start working out, dozens of questions circle your mind:
…and while no one article can answer all of these questions, I’m going to try my best to touch upon all of them. I’ve tried everything from illegal, black market pre workouts like JACK3D to run of the mill pre workouts like C4, and here’s my honest review of the latter.
First and foremost, the ingredients are what matter. Most people just look at the label, and see some marketing bullshit—then they base their opinion off that. If you want to find a good pre workout though, you HAVE to look at the ingredient profile.
What’s worse, is that a lot of supplement companies will lie about their ingredients. They’ll say that it has creatine, beta-alanine, and citrulline on the front, but then when you ACTUALLY take the time to look at the label, it contains less than 10% of the minimum effective dosage.
They get around this by putting “proprietary blend” on the back of the ingredient label. Per the FDA’s regulations, you’re allowed to do this—and thus get around disclosing exactly how much of an ingredient is in the actual blend.
So for example, a 3 gram “proprietary energy blend” might have a ton of different, cool-sounding ingredients like DMAE, creatine, and synephrine. When you actually test the ingredients in a laboratory though, that “3 gram blend” contained 98% creatine and barely any of the other stuff. Not cool.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at the ingredient lineup found in C4. According to the label, one scoop of C4 contains 1.5 grams of beta-alanine, a gram of creatine nitrate, a gram of arginine AKG, and a 741mg “explosive energy blend,” whatever the hell that means.
First off, the beta-alanine is completely under dosed. According to WebMD, for improving physical performance it’s best to take a MINIMUM of 3.2 grams of beta-alanine. One scoop of C4 doesn’t even have half of that, although if someone is taking two scoops they may reach that threshold.
The creatine nitrate (at one gram) is dosed just fine. It’s recommended that you take 1-2 grams of the stuff daily, regardless of your body weight, so whether you use one or two scoops of C4 you’ll be fine. The arginine dose is fine, as well—again it falls within normal dosing limits.
The problem arises when we look at the “explosive energy blend.” Due to the FDA’s regulations, we have no idea how much of each ingredient they’re putting in there. The first ingredient however is vitamin C, which means it’s the most abundant.
In other words, their so-called “explosive energy blend” contains mostly vitamin C. Behind that there’s a few other ingredients, most notably caffeine anhydrous and bitter orange. All in all their ingredient line up isn’t necessarily bad per say, but it’s not that great either.
There’s a few other vitamins and minerals thrown in there, like vitamin B12 (for energy) and N-Acetyl-L-Tyrosine (for stress reduction), although none of this is too uncommon. Most pre workouts contain ingredients like this, because they’re relatively cheap and easy to produce, and they look good on the label.
C4 comes in six flavors, as far as I can tell: icy blue razz, fruit punch, orange dreamsicle, pink lemonade, strawberry margarita, and watermelon. Although their ingredient lineup isn’t that impressive, this is definitely one area where they do shine.
Far too many pre workouts leave a disgusting aftertaste, or taste like a disgusting chemical concoction (think 4 Loco), but C4 is nothing like this. In fact, C4 has some of the best tasting flavors I’ve ever encountered in my time as a supplement salesman, fitness model, and fitness eBook author.
The best flavor, in my opinion, is good old fruit punch—it’s really hard to go bad with this one. The others however, are just as good. The orange dreamsicle isn’t a common flavor, but they aced it just as well—it tastes like an orange cream Popsicle, and has zero aftertaste.
The blue razz is great, the pink lemonade is good as well, and the strawberry margarita flavor is god damn delicious. I don’t have any complains about the watermelon either. Honestly, come to think of it, I have zero complaints about any of these flavors. They’re all just so god damn delicious.
Don’t get me wrong—while C4 isn’t that impressive, I’ll still use it when I’m in a pinch. The gym that I go to sells nifty little bottles with a single serving of C4, so if I’m traveling I’ll often pick up a few of those and just chug them before I hit the gym. It’s inexpensive, convenient, and gives me some decent energy.
I’m always sure to take pre workouts on an empty stomach, because I typically do intermittent fasting. In other words, I wake up and go to the gym first thing in the morning—no, I don’t bother eating. Working out on an empty stomach lets me get a big kick from the pre workout I’m taking, plus it’s good for getting shredded.
I generally start to feel something around the 10 minute mark. I’ll get an initial kick of energy, followed by tingles around the 15-20 minute mark. From here I start my workout, and it gives me enough energy to plow all the way through to the end, even if I’m a bit groggy from the night before.
Overall, it’s not at all a bad pre-workout. If you’re a beginner to lifting weights, this is all you need. Don’t worry about any of my barely legal, black market meth pre-workouts just yet. Work on building up a tolerance to C4 first, and then you can worry about the stronger shit.
There’s a lot of scams out there in the supplement industry. From GNC to overpriced Walmart whey protein, everyone’s trying to make a quick buck, so it’s important that you arm yourself with knowledge. Hopefully after reading this article, you’re one step closer to finding your ideal pre workout.
The ingredient profile isn’t super impressive, but it’s got the essentials—caffeine, creatine, beta-alanine, and more. To get an effective dose for a lot of these, you’ll have to take two scoops, so don’t get too shy with the scooper. If you’re starting out in the gym always start with one, though.
The one area where C4 excels the most (in my opinion at least) is its taste. From the delicious icy blue razz to the gourmet orange cream dreamsicle, their scientists have got the flavors ON POINT. Fruit punch is a great introductory flavor for beginners, because it’s usually the most popular.
All in all, C4 is a great pre workout for beginners and advanced lifters alike. While it may not give you the kick you need if you’ve got a high tolerance, it’ll certainly do just fine for most of us. Sure, there’s a lot stronger stuff on the market, but C4 is just fine if you’re in a pinch.
Jon Anthony is a world renowned dating coach and the founder of Masculine Development, a website specifically dedicated to helping men improve their personal, dating, and financial lives. After years of training men how to attract women, build muscle, and make more money, Jon created the "7 Strategies" program to help kickstart your journey to success. Jon firmly believes that every man should have control over his own life, and he created Masculine Development to share his passion with men who want success in all areas.
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