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 is extremely mediocre, but 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 is pretty mediocre. Nothing really pops out as “special” to me.
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.
First off, there’s only 200mg of caffeine. That may be a lot for a newbie, but for anyone who’s remotely experienced in the gym, that’s nothing.
Hell, there’s pre-workouts out there like Rich Piana’s 5150 that have literally double the amount of caffeine as C4 does.
Second, the “Beta Alanine” in their pre-workout is very under dosed. It’s best to take a MINIMUM of 3.2 grams of this stuff to enhance physical performance, and C4 doesn’t even have half of this.
Third, their “explosive energy blend” doesn’t even say how much of each ingredient they’re putting in. So, they could literally put 95% vitamin C in there, and skimp out on the other ingredients, and you’d never know.
This being said, I do use C4 when I’m in a pinch… but it’s nowhere near as strong as any of the other pre-workouts I like to use.
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, the C4 pre workout 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 Blue Razz—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 fruit punch 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.
In my opinion, all of their flavors are good… that being said, it isn’t hard to make a pre-workout that tastes good.
They’ve got most of the “basic” flavors, like:
Pretty much any pre-workout on the market has flavors like this. The flavors that REALLY impress me though are the unique ones, like sour gummy worm or Pina Colada.
Overall, like I said, their flavors aren’t bad. If you do decide to buy C4, I’d go with the Blue Razz (I think it’s their best flavor).
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.
When I take C4, 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, C4 is a decent pre workout for beginners, but if you’re experienced with pre workouts, it really fucking sucks.
If you’re a beginner to lifting weights, C4 will do just fine. 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.
Personally, I prefer Nitraflex over most other pre-workouts. It’s got a good amount of caffeine (300mg) and a ton of other great ingredients.
The biggest thing I like about Nitraflex, however, is the fact that it has Calcium Fructopyranose Borate (CFB), which has been clinically proven to increase testosterone levels.
In other words, not only does Nitraflex give you crazy focus, incredible pumps, and awesome workouts, but it boosts your testosterone in addition to all of this, as well.
It’s my go-to for every single workout, and thankfully, a lot of gyms are carrying it in “single serving” bottles now, so it’s super convenient.
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 of C4 isn’t super impressive, with just the bare essentials of caffeine and creatine. Everything else aside from this is super underdosed, so I really don’t recommend it.
Like I said, I use Nitraflex for all of my pre-workout needs. It’s super strong, and it even boosts your testosterone levels, too.
All in all, C4 isn’t really that great at all… in fact, it kind of fucking sucks. All they have is great marketing and branding, so they sell a lot of it, though.
As always, if you guys have any questions, comments, or concerns, let me know… and I’ll see you next time!
Jon Anthony is a dating coach, fitness expert, and self-improvement guru. He dropped out of college to start Masculine Development in 2015, and has since been self-employed, helping men across the world achieve their best lives. You can best reach him on social media, or via email for questions.
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