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Last modified on July 15th, 2021
There are a lot of pre-workout options out there, and one of the bigger names is C4 Pre Workout. Just because it’s a well-known brand doesn’t mean that it holds up in terms of quality and effectiveness. Below we take a look at everything you need to know about C4 Pre Workout in general, including the ingredients and whether or not it’s a good option.
The Basics of C4 Pre Workout
According to the Cellucor company that makes C4, the benefits of their products might include:
- Energy support
- Force and pumps
- Includes a “super creatine compound”
- Contains something called CarnoSyn Beta-Alanine, which may help combat fatigue
- Contains a compound that may help your body have more caffeine tolerance buildup
- Comes in flavors like cherry limeade and icy blue
- C4 Pre Workout is one of the best-selling brands since 2011
- More than two billion servings sold
Pre-workout supplements are very popular among fitness aficionados but they’re also increasingly embraced by people who are new to working and just want a boost. The idea of a pre-workout is that it gives you the energy to power through a workout and potentially see better results.
How well that holds up is debatable.
A pre-workout supplement will usually have a combination of ingredients that are designed to improve athletic performance and energy. These ingredients might include vitamins, caffeine, creatine and amino acids. Pre-workouts often come in powder form, and then they’re mixed with water.
While a lot of people swear by them for their workouts, there are potential downsides and even risks to be aware of.
For example, pre-workouts might contain sugar alcohols or artificial sweeteners that can hurt your stomach and cause cramping and bloating. Too much caffeine is also potentially dangerous.
Before you take a pre-workout, you need to make sure you’re clear on the ingredients and any potential side effects. You should also carefully read the instructions for how you’re supposed to take it.
The C4 Pre Workout is from the Cellucor company. There are a few different formulations, which we’ll go into in more detail below, but all are more or less a variation on the C4 Original.
C4 Pre Workout Ingredients
As was touched on, we’re going to focus primarily on the C4 Original formulation from Cellucor, but we’ll also talk below about some of the other types of C4 Pre Workout products.
The ingredients we detail below are from the C4 Original Formulation:
According to the C4 Pre Workout ingredient label, there are 250 mg of vitamin C as ascorbic acid. Vitamin C is critical for the health of all of the cells in your body. It’s one of the most effective and safest nutrients. You can take up to 2000 mg a day safely in most cases.
Higher blood levels of vitamin C are associated with better health.
Getting adequate amounts of vitamin C can reduce oxidative stress and lower your risk of developing chronic diseases. Vitamin C is helpful for the management of high blood pressure because it helps relax the blood vessels that carry blood from the heart.
It can lower your risk of heart disease, reduces inflammation, and it can help prevent iron deficiency.
Plus, vitamin C is good for your immune system.
One thing we like about the inclusion of vitamin C in C4 Pre Workout is that it can help boost energy, and it can also help you recover from a strenuous workout session since it’s an anti-inflammatory
Another ingredient in the C4 product is called niacin, otherwise known as vitamin B3. Niacin is important for health, and it’s a micronutrient your body uses in a variety of ways. In supplemental form, niacin can help improve brain function, alleviate symptoms of arthritis and lower cholesterol levels.
Your brain requires niacin to function properly and get energy.
Psychiatric conditions and brain fog are actually associated with a deficiency.
Vitamin B6 is water-soluble, and it’s also known as pyridoxine. Some of the many potential benefits of getting enough B6 through your diet or supplements include:
- B6 helps regulate your mood. It’s needed to create the neurotransmitters that control mood including dopamine, serotonin, and GABA. It may also help decrease blood levels of homocysteine, which is an amino acid linked to psychiatric disorders like depression.
- There’s evidence that vitamin B6 could help improve overall brain function and reduce the risk of developing disorders like Alzheimer’s.
- Vitamin is important to prevent or treat anemia because it helps the body produce hemoglobin. When you have low hemoglobin levels, your cells can’t get enough oxygen.
- In some studies, B6 has been shown to reduce inflammation, including in people with rheumatoid arthritis.
Folic acid is a synthetic type of folate. Folate is a B vitamin. The role of folate is to help create DNA and genetic material. It’s also called vitamin B9.
Folate helps the body make new red blood cells that carry oxygen throughout the body.
Getting adequate folic acid or folate can help reduce the risk of depression, some types of cancer, and heart and blood vessel disease.
Vitamin B12 as methylcobalamin is included in this pre-workout supplement. B12 is an essential vitamin. Your body needs it, but can’t produce it, so you have to get it from food sources or supplements.
Benefits of getting an adequate amount of B12 include:
- This vitamin helps your body produce normal red blood cells.
- It can boost your mood and help prevent symptoms of depression.
- It’s associated with neuroprotective benefits. For example, a B12 deficiency is associated with memory loss, especially in older people.
- Vitamin B12 supplements can give you an energy boost, and one of the earliest signs of a deficiency is a lack of energy or fatigue.
- B12 may help reduce homocysteine, which is linked to an increased risk of a number of illnesses, including heart disease.
The C4 Original Pre Workout powder contains 583% of your daily needed vitamin B12.
CarnoSyn Beta-Alanine is a patented form of beta-alanine. The creators of CarnoSyn say that it can help you build muscle faster, and it can improve strength, focus, and energy.
In general, beta-alanine is a popular supplement among fitness lovers and athletes. It’s a non-essential amino acid that works to produce something called carnosine. Carnosine is stored in your skeletal muscles after production. It reduces lactic acid buildup in your muscles during exercise, which can then help improve your athletic performance.
Beta-alanine can help you experience less overall fatigue when you are working out.
It has been shown in studies to reduce your time to exhaustion. It can also help with high-intensity, short-duration exercise because it lowers muscle acidosis.
There’s also evidence that beta-alanine can improve body composition and increase lean muscle mass.
It also has anti-aging and antioxidant properties and may increase nitric oxide levels, which is good for the heart.
Creatine Nitrate (NO3-T)
Creatine nitrate is a water-soluble version of creatine. It’s no more potent than taking creatine monohydrate, however. Creatine nitrate, since it is more water-soluble, is probably easier to mix. Since it is more soluble, it’s possible that your body could absorb more of it.
Creatine is a popular sports supplement. It’s well-studied.
Creatine is found in your muscle cells, and it helps them produce energy when you’re doing high-intensity exercises. When you’re doing any kind of high-intensity exercise, creatine’s role is to help boost phosphocreatine stores in your muscles. Then, those stores can be used to produce more ATP. ATP is the energy source for heavy lifting and high-intensity workouts.
- Creatine can also improve cell signaling so that you can experience more muscle repair and new muscle growth.
- It can raise anabolic hormones.
- Creatine can enable you to do more work or volume in a single training session. This is key for long-term muscle growth.
- When you take creatine, it can increase the water content in the cells of your muscles, which can then volumize muscles and help them grow.
- Taking creatine can reduce muscle breakdown.
- There’s something called myostatin which is a protein that can prevent new muscle growth if you have high levels. Taking creatine can reduce levels of myostatin.
You might not be as familiar with this ingredient as some of the others that are in C4.
This is a salt of the amino acid arginine. It is used to help with protein synthesis in the muscles and improvements in muscle strength.
It’s basically a type of L-arginine, to put it simply.
It can help the blood flow to muscle tissue by raising nitric oxide. It’s taken primarily to increase nitric oxide production. When you have an increased level of nitric oxide in your blood vessels, your body might be able to handle longer, more intense workouts. L-arginine supplements can also help increase your exercise performance in other ways.
For example, they can boost your energy levels.
Also known as AAKG, this supplement is good for weight management for both men and women. It’s thought to increase inulin activity which can help metabolize fats more effectively.
Explosive Energy Blend
Okay, we thought it might be helpful to break down each of the individual ingredients in what C4 refers to as their Explosive Energy Blend as well. There’s 425 mg of this proprietary blend in each scoop of the C4 Original Pre Workout Powder.
- N-Acetyl L-Tyrosine: This is a dietary supplement that may help regulate mood, improve alertness and boost focus and attention. There’s research-based evidence that it may help improve mental status and performance in stressful situations. You can take it before exercising to potentially improve overall performance.
- Caffeine: There is caffeine in this supplement. It’s a stimulant that may help with fat-burning, alertness, energy, focus and performance. Be aware that C4 does have this ingredient if you’re sensitive to it.
- Velvet Bean: We’ve written about velvet bean in more detail, which is worth checking out. Velvet bean is also known as mucuna pruriens and it’s nicknamed the dopamine bean. It has a number of potential benefits, including improved endurance and energy, a healthy nervous system, improved libido and reproductive health and it can help your mental focus.
- Theacrine as TeaCrine: This ingredient is a natural chemical that has effects similar to caffeine. It may improve both physical and mental performance. It can stimulate the central nervous system, but it doesn’t appear to affect blood pressure like caffeine does.
Different Types of C4 Preworkout
As we mentioned, there are several different types of C4 products, which include:
- C4 Ripped: This C4 Pre Workout supplement contains 150 mg of caffeine and the same amount of CarnoSyn Beta-Alanine as the original formulation. The biggest difference is that it’s creatine-free. You might not want creatine if you’re not trying to bulk. If you want to get cut or lean, this might be the better pre-workout option for you. This product is NSF Certified for Sport, which is an independent certification recognized by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency as well as the National Hockey League and Major League Baseball.
- C4 Sport: This product contains a bit less caffeine than C4 Ripped at 135 mg. Another difference is the fact that it has micronized creatine monohydrate. Some experts feel creatine monohydrate is the best kind, based on more than 1,000 studies. Creatine monohydrate has a strong safety record and is the most supported type as far as scientific research and clinical data. It may also help with exercise performance more so than other types.
- C4 Ripped Sport: This has only 135 mg of caffeine, and it is creatine-free. It’s also NSF Certified for Sport.
- C4 Extreme: If you want a real energy boost, you might consider C4 Extreme with 200 mg of caffeine, 2 grams of CarnoSyn, and a gram of creatine nitrate in each serving.
- C4 Ultimate: This version of C4 Pre Workout has 300 mg of caffeine, 3.2 grams of Carnosyn, and 2 grams of creatine.
- C4 Extreme Natural Zero: Finally, this product has 200 mg of caffeine and 2 grams of CarnoSyn, but it’s naturally flavored and sweetened.
Are There Any Side Effects?
While overall C4 products have a good reputation for safety, any time you take a pre-workout supplement, you need to be careful because side effects are possible. These aren’t exclusive to C4, but possible pre-workout side effects can include:
- You may feel jittery, particularly if you’re taking a high-caffeine product. If you’re new to pre-workout supplements, we’d definitely say go with one of the C4 options that has a lower amount of caffeine per serving, like C4 Sport or C4 Ripped Sport. If you have too much caffeine or you’re sensitive to its effects, you could experience an increased heart rate, nausea, insomnia, drowsiness, headaches or anxiety. We will say, relatively speaking, C4 isn’t too high in caffeine, which can be a good thing. It has enough to give you an energy boost, but the levels are lower than a lot of other pre-workout supplements.
- If you take a pre-workout supplement with creatine, while it’s very safe, it could cause you to retain water. Some people also experience mild digestive side effects with creatine like bloating. If you follow dosage instructions, you shouldn’t experience this.
- Beta-alanine can cause mild tingling, which some people actually like in a pre-workout supplement, but other people don’t.
- Taking niacin, which is included in the C4 Pre Workout products, can lead to skin-flushing effects and some red patches that are temporary.
- Some people experience diarrhea when they take a pre-workout, but since C4 products don’t have magnesium, the risk of this might be lower than it is with products that do have it.
- Because pre-workouts increase blood flow throughout your body, you might experience a headache. If you’re prone to migraines, you might start out slow taking any kind of pre-workout until you see how it will affect you.
In our opinion, true, unbiased customer reviews are one of the most important parts of a buy decision. We went through all the reviews we could find for the C4 Pre Workout options on Amazon, as well as sites like Reddit, and the following are some of our main takeaways:
We’ll start with Amazon reviews. Key points that we consistently noticed in the thousands of reviews include:
- On Amazon for the C4 Original Product, of the thousands of customer reviews, 75% gave it five stars.
- Users say that it did get the job done, and a lot of people felt that it works as well as more expensive brands.
- We saw quite a few reviews that said they feel C4 gives them a clean boost in their energy levels without jitters.
- Some users said they feel like they can work out for longer when they take C4 versus when they don’t.
- It was described as a game-changer for some people, including for those individuals who do early morning workouts and really need something to give them the kickstart to get going.
So what about the complaints among Amazon reviewers?
Some of the complaints we saw most often include people not liking the taste, and some people didn’t feel like it was effective. Keep in mind, these are reviews for the Original C4, so it doesn’t have as much caffeine as some of the other products.
Some users also didn’t feel like it mixed well, and it had a chalky taste.
We did some research on Reddit about C4 Pre Workout reviews too.
We screenshotted a few below for you.
A lot of people do feel like C4 is a great product. We read a lot of comments where people said they would never take another product. Also notable was that some users said they feel like it’s a good option if you are sensitive to caffeine since it doesn’t have a ton relatively speaking.
Users think that it does have the added benefit of improving their mood.
The biggest complaint we saw across the board on Reddit was that some users feel C4 Pre Workout is too weak for what they’re looking for.
Another thing to note that we discovered on Reddit is that a lot of users find they get better effects by cycling C4 Pre Workout. So, for example, you might take it consistently for eight weeks and then take a week off to keep getting optimal results.
Frequently Asked Questions
Below are answers to some of the common questions about C4 Pre Workout.
What Does C4 Pre Workout Do?
Any time you take a pre-workout, the goal is to help give you more energy throughout your workout. Taking a pre-workout supplement can give your muscles the energy they need. Some of the things C4 Pre Workout can do include:
- Increased physical performance: Pre-workouts, particularly when they contain creatine, which most of the C4 options do, can help improve your physical performance during high-intensity exercise.
- Preventing fatigue: You may be able to work out for longer when you take something like C4 Ultimate Pre Workout or any of the other products. You’ll have more energy available to burn, so all of your reps are going to count, and you’re not going to tire out as soon.
- Mental focus: You might find that taking one of the C4 Pre Workout supplements can help you have mental focus and even motivation or an improved mood.
What is in C4 Pre Workout?
While each of the products varies a little in the ingredients, some of the things that are in C4 most commonly include:
- Caffeine for energy and mental focus
- CarnoSyn Beta-Alanine can cause the tingle that some people like with a pre-workout and can support endurance and reduce fatigue
- TeaCrine is an ingredient that supports sustained energy levels
- Vitamin C
- N-Acetyl L-Tyrosine for mental focus
- Creatine for more powerful pumps and help building lean muscle mass
How Long Does C4 Pre Workout Last?
For most people, it’s best to take pre-workout around 30 to 45 minutes before you plan to work out. Then, depending on the product, how much caffeine it has and how sensitive you are to the ingredients, it will probably last anywhere from three to six hours.
Some pre-workouts can cause insomnia, so be aware of that if you’re going to take it in the afternoon or evening.
How to Use C4 Pre Workout?
Aim to take this pre-workout anywhere from 30 to 45 minutes before you exercise. This will let it absorb into your muscle tissue. You should try to take it on an empty stomach or almost empty stomach to maximize the effects unless you’re very sensitive to the effects in which case you might want to take it with a small snack.
You mix C4 with water, and you can use a shaker cup or blend it with a spoon.
What is No3 In C4 Pre Workout?
The ingredient NO3-T in C4 is for muscle pumps, but it can also increase endurance and reduce recovery time. It’s a form of creatine. More specifically, it’s creatine nitrate.
Creatine nitrate is a type of creatine where the molecule is bound to a nitrate group. It seems to be more easily absorbed by the body, which is one reason some people prefer it over creatine monohydrate.
How Much Caffeine in C4 Pre Workout?
The amount of caffeine depends on the specific C4 product. Below is the amount of caffeine in each, per serving:
- C4 Original: 150 mg caffeine
- C4 Ripped: 150 mg caffeine
- C4 Sport: 135 mg caffeine
- C4 Ripped Sport: 135 mg caffeine
- C4 Extreme: 200 mg caffeine
- C4 Ultimate: 300 mg caffeine
- C4 Extreme Natural Zero: 200 mg caffeine
What is the Best C4 Pre Workout?
Based on customer reviews and other information, we think that the best C4 Pre Workout is the C4 Ultimate. It has great customer ratings, and it has more caffeine than some of the other options, as well as two types of patented creatine.
If you want a powerful pre-workout, the Ultimate blend could be a good option for you.
Where Can You Buy C4 Pre Workout?
Our pick for the best place to buy C4 is on Amazon. You can compare the options and take advantage of the convenient Prime shopping.
Who Makes C4 Pre Workout?
The Cellucor company makes C4. The company also has a number of other sports nutrition drinks and products, including energy drinks.
Overall, we would say that the C4 Pre Workout products are solid in terms of quality, reputation and customer reviews. You should talk with your doctor before taking any supplement, but we think that the C4 options represent a good mix of quality and value. They tend to be highly rated, including on Reddit, which is known for having a discerning audience when it comes to supplements.