C4 Pre-Workout Review: Pros, cons, and results explained

Sometimes you just need a little extra boost in the gym.

Okay… maybe you need it a lot of the time.

Me? I usually work out around lunchtime, just as my morning coffee is wearing off. If I haven’t slept great or I’m just having a funky day, I’ll still be a little bit foggy.

I’ve been experimenting a lot with different pre workout supplements to get me going and boost my performance when I lift.

Today I’m going to talk a little bit about one of the supplements I tried recently, Cellucor C4 original pre workout — what’s in it (ingredients) plus what I liked and didn’t like about it.

So now, here’s my full C4 Original Pre Workout review.

Overall, Cellucor C4 pre workout is a tasty and effective supplement that’s easy to find just about anywhere. It has a good amount of caffeine without causing the jitters, but can be prone to some minor clumping issues.

Image Product Details
Compare ToSix Star Pre Workout Explosion
  • 135mg caffeine
  • 1.5g creatine mono
  • Teacrine – No
Check on Amazon
sample-table__imageCellucor C4
  • 135mg caffeine
  • 1.0g creatine nitrate
  • Teacrine – Yes
Check on Amazon

What’s in it? C4 Pre Workout Ingredients

Before you go guzzling a glass of this stuff, let’s pop the lid and see what’s inside.

(We’ll talk briefly about the main ingredients and what each is designed to do inside your body.)

Caffeine – 150mg:

You know caffeine; it’s what makes the world go round.

Caffeine is a mild stimulant found in a lot of things we drink, from coffee to tea to soda and energy drinks.

150mg could be considered a medium amount of caffeine for a pre workout drink.

C4’s sister-beverage, C4 Sport, has a little bit less, but some other drinks have quite a bit more.

For comparison, a cup of coffee has somewhere around 100g of caffeine.

Creatine Nitrate – 1g:

Creatine is one of the staple supplements used by many weightlifters.

It sounds like an intense steroid-type of compound but it’s really nothing to be afraid of:

Creatine, in simple terms, helps your body quickly replenish its energy stores so you can go harder and longer in the gym.

(It can also draw water into the muscles, making them look bigger and fuller, along with functioning better.)

Typically you see people using creatine monohydrate.

Creatine nitrate is a newer version of the same compound that is supposedly more easily absorbable by your body.

In any case, 1g of creatine is not a lot. It should help give you a little tiny boost in the gym, but serious lifters who “dose” creatine regularly take it in much higher amounts.

Arginine Alpha Ketoglutorate – 1g:

Arginine Alpha Ketoglutorate, mercifully known as AAKG, is certainly a mouthful. But its function is relatively simple:

AAKG helps your liver process some of the byproducts of training and allegedly boosts protein synthesis.

It should help a little with your recovery after a hard workout and keep you from getting stiff and sore while in the gym, in other words.

But again, 1g is a pretty small amount and not something that will have a major impact on your training. It’s just there to give you a little bit of a short-term boost.

CarnoSyn Beta-Alanine – 1.6g:

You know when you’re running on the treadmill, or doing super high reps of weight training, and your muscles literally start burning?

Like they’re on fire?

It’s a good feeling because you know you’re working hard, but it’s also hard to fight through.

In simple terms, CarnoSyn Beta-Alanine is designed to help delay or reduce this acidic burning feeling (which occurs from a build-up of lactic acid in the muscles).

The 1.6 grams, as found in C4 Pre Workout, is essentially the minimum effective dose of this compound.

Teacrine –

Teacrine is relatively unique to C4 Pre Workout (it is not found in C4 Sport or Ripped) and brings a pretty intriguing effect to the table.

Teacrine itself is a natural compound that supposedly boosts your mood and motivation, though it’s not a stimulant like caffeine.

The idea is that you feel better, more alert, more motivated, and happier, but without the fluttery heart and jitters that come from other stimulants.

Teacrine is part of Cellucor’s proprietary blend (learn more on the official Cellucor website), so the exact of amount of teacrine in C4 isn’t listed.

See the latest price & read more reviews of C4 Original (Amazon)

So does it work? My experience and results using C4 Pre Workout

I used C4 Original for a few weeks before my workouts (I lift heavy weights 3 times per week) and here’s what I found:

Consistency/Ease of Use

Clumps at the bottom of a container of C4. Photo by Trusty Spotter

I actually found C4 original to have some minor clumping issues.

When I opened the can, there were several visible chunks (that could have formed during shipping), and I found that the powder didn’t quite mix as well as I’d like.

For the most part, the drink is smooth and easy to drink, but there is a noticeable amount of powder in the dregs that makes the end of the drink hard to finish.


I tried the Icy Blue Razz flavor and really enjoyed it!

It’s sweet but not overwhelmingly so (and you can moderate that as you see fit depending on how much water you use to make the drink). It doesn’t have that overpowering aspertame-y taste that’s so common with zero or low calorie energy drinks.

And the cool thing is that C4 Original Pre Workout comes in like a billion flavors, like Cherry Lime, Watermelon, and Strawberry Margarita!


This stuff works! You’ll definitely feel energized and alert when you hit the gym after a glass of C4 Pre Workout.

For me, though, the 150mg of caffeine was just a little, tiny bit too much.

(I prefer the 135mg found in C4 Sport)

I found that, depending on how much coffee I had in the morning, C4 Original would sometimes put me over the edge into jittery/wirey territory.

And I actually kind of like that feeling sometimes, but it’s not what I want in the gym when I’m trying to kick ass.

But if you’re not a coffee drinker, or you’re just someone with a higher tolerance for caffeine, this might be right up your alley.

(You could go even higher with a whopping 300mg of caffeine in C4 Extreme Energy. Yikes!)

Does C4 Pre Workout have side effects?

C4 also comes in bottles and cans, carbonated and non-carbonated. Photo by Cellucor

There’s a lot going on inside this, and any, pre workout supplements.

A lot of different energy supplements, performance boosters, and recovery compounds are at work.

And your body may or may not react predictably to them.

Common side effects of pre workout drinks are:

  • Headache
  • Jitters
  • Cramps
  • Tingles or numbness
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Anxiety

If you’re worried about any of these side effects from drinking C4, consult your doctor or a qualified personal trainer before you drink it.

That said, I personally have never experienced any of these with C4 pre workout except for some very minor jitters.

(Read about low-caffeine preworkouts that are better for anxiety here.)

C4 Pre Workout Nutrition Facts

For all the different compounds and supplements found inside C4, there is little to no nutrition to be found. One serving is less than 5 calories and has about 1g of carbs.

But here’s a full list of the ingredients as listed on the label.

See the latest price & read more reviews of C4 Original (Amazon)

The final word

C4 Original Pre Workout is definitely effective at providing you with energy, focus, and solid recovery for the gym.

The two small issues I had with it were powder clumping and minor jitters, though your experience may be different.

My general advice, though, is to try many different pre workout supplements until you find the one that makes you feel the best. After all, everybody’s body and training are different, so feel free to experiment!

Good luck.

For my money, it makes the most sense to buy C4 straight from Amazon — it’s cost-effective and convenient.

C4 Original Pre Workout Review
Evan Porter
C4 Original Pre Workout Supplement

3.5 / 5

C4 Pre workout FAQ

What does pre workout do?

Pre workout drinks or supplements basically give you energy to have great workouts in the gym. They usually have a combination of caffeine and other energy boosters that charge you up for working out (typically for lifting weights) and claim that you’ll be stronger than you would be without it.

There is some scientific evidence to suggest that this is true, though it could be a placebo effect.

A lot of pre workouts also have other supplements in them that help with recovery, replenishing your muscles after a heavy lift, and supercharging muscle growth and recuperation. Creatine is commonly found in low doses of pre workout for this exact reason.

What are the ingredients of C4 Original?

C4 has caffeine (a medium amount), creatine nitrate, arginine alpha ketoglutorate (AAKG), carnosyn beta-alanine, teacrine, and a few other ingredients.

If you scroll back up, you can see the exact amounts of each and a short explanation of what they do.

C4 is kind of a non-descript pre workout, great for beginners, found everywhere, and there’s nothing incredibly groundbreaking about its design. It’s pretty similar to a lot of the pre workouts you’ll find on the market, though the addition of teacrine is somewhat unique.

(Teacrine is a mood and energy boosting supplement)

What are the benefits of C4?

It’s really easy to find, not that expensive, and it works well. For those reasons, C4 is a pretty good pre workout choice for beginners or anyone who wants to dip their toes into the supplement waters.

There are better options on the market, but it’s hard to beat its quality to price combo.

What does C4 taste like?

C4’s flavor is pretty good! It’s very sweet, as it has a lot of artificial sweeteners in it. I’ve tried the Icy Blue Razz flavor which is really nice, but it also comes in Cherry Lime, Watermelon, Strawberry margarita, and more.

I liked the taste, though I’m not a huge fan of all of the sweeteners. It’s not something I’d want to drink every day for that reason. Some gym-goers may find this one a little too sweet for their liking.

Has C4 pre workout ever been banned?

As far as I can tell, C4 original has never been involved in any controversies or scandals, though C4 Extreme was at one point accused of containing a banned substance called Synephrine HCL.

Is C4 pre workout safe? Does it have health risks?

I’m not a doctor but I can’t find much evidence of there being major health risks associated with C4 original. It only has a pretty mild amount of caffeine (a little more than a cup of coffee). I would be extremely cautious double or triple dosing it (or more) because the ingredients can really pile up that way.

Take it as prescribed. And ask your doctor if you have specific concerns about the caffeine or other contents.

As far as side effects, some people may experience some jitters or trouble sleeping from the stimulants in C4.

Sometimes the jitters and high-energy feeling can be interpreted as anxiety, or can exacerbate anxiety that was already there. Coffee can have a similar effect.

Is C4 a protein powder?

No, C4 is a preworkout, not a protein powder. It does not contain any protein or, really, any nutritional value at all. It’s a source of zero calorie energy for better performance in the gym. That’s it! 

The brand Cellucor does offer a protein powder, but it’s not called C4 and does not offer the same function and benefits.

How much does C4 cost?

You’ll have to check Amazon or your local store for pricing, but typically you can expect to pay around 50 to 75 cents per serving.

You’ll likely get the best deal, and fast shipping, from Amazon. (See link above)

Should I take C4?

I have no idea! But the taste isn’t bad, the caffeine is enough to work but not enough to really fry you, and it’s not that expensive.

So in my opinion, unless you have a health issue that would preclude you from taking it, it’s well worth a try.

1 thought on “C4 Pre-Workout Review: Pros, cons, and results explained”

  1. I"m not a body builder. I play intense Badminto 3x a week. I am lookong for an eneegy booster so that i can play more sets. Udually after 2 sets i"m pretty burnt out. Would C4 help me play coulple more sets?

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