Cellucor C4 is one of the most popular pre-workout supplements on the market today. In this article, we’ll discuss what Cellucor C4 is, what it contains, how it compares to other pre-workouts and if it can help you reach your fitness goals.
We’ll also take an in-depth look at its ingredients, their effectiveness, and side effects as well as whether it is worth its price tag.
C4 Product Overview
C4 is available in a few different flavors. These are:
- Strawberry Margarita
- Pink Lemonade
- Orange Burst
- Fruit Punch
The supplement is marketed as ‘America’s #1 selling pre-workout offering ‘explosive energy, heightened focus and an overwhelming urge to tackle any challenge’. There is also a ‘Sport’ version of this supplement that we cover in our C4 Sport review.
As we can expect with many supplement marketing claims, these claims may be overexaggerated. So let’s review what is important, the ingredients.
As with any supplement, we need to look at the ingredients to see how effective they will be.
C4 contains 0 calories, like many pre-workouts
Firstly, a great thing about the ingredients is that is doesn’t contain a proprietary blend. So we can see exactly how much of each ingredient is contained in the supplement.
Explosive Energy Blend
Unfortunately, this is a proprietary blend. So we don’t know exactly how much of each ingredient is included. But we know that tyrosine is included that provides a stimulant effect and theacrine which gives a caffeine-like effect.
Velvet bean seed extract has been included which has been linked to an increase in testosterone and dopamine in studies. However, the amount of it is quite low which may be too low to be optimal.
The main stimulant in most pre-workouts. Each serving of C4 will contain 150mg of caffeine which is around a cup and a half of coffee. When comparing C4 Original vs Sport, we found that the Sport variety contained just 15mg of caffeine.
Creatine is another very common sports supplement. However, the usual ingredient is creatine monohydrate. Creatine nitrate is used in C4 which a quite rare and has a slightly better absorption rate. It also tastes better.
It is slightly disappointing that only 1g is included but the nitrate converts to nitric oxide which is linked to better muscle pumps and improved blood flow.
This is one of the key ingredients in a pre-workout. If you’ve tried a pre-workout in the past, this is what gives you tingly skin. It helps to delay the accumulation of lactic acid meaning more reps. 1.6g of the CarnoSyn brand beta-alanine is included per serving which is a reasonable amount.
L-Tyrosine is an amino acid that has been shown to promote fat loss by increasing energy expenditure while dieting.
Arginine – Studies suggest that this can have a positive effect on aerobic and anaerobic performance and it may also aid muscle growth. However, l-citrulline is considered superior in this regard due to being a precursor to it. So it’s a shame it wasn’t included instead.
Decreases oxidative stress which can lead to muscle damage and fatigue. Research shows that 200mg is enough to reduce this oxidative stress. C4 contains 250mg of vitamin C per serving giving it a near-optimal amount.
Vitamin B6 & B12
Vitamin B6 is crucial in the body’s mechanism for muscle repair. Vitamin B12 is essential for the body to produce energy from food. Unless you are deficient in B-vitamins it’s unlikely that additional B-vitamins will aid your workout.
I added C4 to my workout routine (3 heavy lifting sessions per week). Here is what I experienced:
I managed to get my hands on a couple of tubs and so tried a few of the flavors. My favorite is the Icy Blue Raspberry flavor.
I also tasted the Strawberry Margarita flavor. While I personally didn’t find it quite as nice as the raspberry, it’s still pretty good. My least favorite flavor was watermelon. I’m just not a fan of that fruit or flavor in general.
All of the variations that I tried were smooth and easy to mix in a shaker. Sweeteners are obviously used in these sorts of supplements. But I didn’t experience the overpowering sweetener after taste that is common in low-calorie energy drinks.
I definitely felt energized around 20 minutes after drinking C4. I gained a nice amount of focus and the skin-tingling sensation (from the beta-alanine) kicked in pretty hard. While it didn’t kick in as hard as C4 Ultimate, I felt an intense desire to lift some weights and I felt the need to get through my warm-up a bit quicker.
The caffeine was a decent amount for me. But on some days when I consumed a few cups of coffee earlier in the day, I felt a bit jittery.
I was pushing myself a bit harder to get 1 or 2 more reps done in some exercises. I also had much less fatigue compared to workouts when not taking C4. I noticed that I felt a bit more pumped than normal while lifting.
My thoughts on C4 are that it is a good all-rounder for a pre-workout. It does its job, provides a nice energy kick, and helps to keep the workout going.
While the energy boost is good and can help you increase reps in the gym, it’s not extreme and on some days it may be just enough. If you are a veteran pre-workout user, you may find that a higher dosage is needed. Or you may need a supplement with higher doses of your favorite ingredients.
C4 Original has been around for a while so the ingredient list is not advanced as some of the more recent supplements on the market. But if you are a novice or you’re on a bit of a budget, this can be a great option.