Cellucor C4 extreme is a pre-workout supplement. Pre-workout supplements are some of the best selling products on the market for a very simple real reason; they deliver near instant results that you can feel. Who doesn’t love the energy and pump that a pre-workout supplement delivers?
No one, that’s who!
In fact, at the time of this writing C4 is the second best selling product on all of Bodybuilding.com. Just for the record, that doesn’t mean it’s the most amazing thing under the sun or anything; most pre-workout supplements tend to sell well and receive high ratings from their users.
How Do Users Rank C4 Extreme?
For example, Bodybuilding.com users rank C4 8.5 on a scale of 10. They also rank…
- BSN’s NO-Explode 8.7 out of 10
- Muscle Pharm’s Assault 8.3 out of 10
- RSP Nutrition’s DyNO a 9.6 out of 10
- JYM PRE JYM got a 9.4 out of 10.
So yeah… like I said, these products are well received and generally well-liked.
Unfortunately, the reason they are enjoyed so much is not because they are chock-full of ground-breaking, cutting edge muscle building ingredients, but because they get you jacked like hell and provide an awesome pump. If you’re serious about your workouts, the energy element of these supplements is a real bonus, although in reality you could create your own energy stack with a couple of simple ingredients for a lot less money.
How does Cellucor’s pre-workout offering measure up?
In addition to a smattering of B and C vitamins, this pre-workout supplement contains the big three:
- Beta alanine (1500 mg): A great supplement with some decent clinical data validating its effectiveness, Beta alanine is what gives you that itchy and tingling feeling — which is entirely harmless, by the way. Unfortunately, at the single scoop dose, it is significantly under dosed. Take a two scoop dosage you’re getting close to the minimal effective dose, although the most positive studies have been performed with between 4 and 6 g of beta alanine per day.
- Creating nitrate (1,000 mg): You’d pretty much have to be living under a rock to have not heard of creatine by now. It’s a standby ingredient in almost any bodybuilding product for one simple reason… It works. However, the positive clinical data has all been obtained using creatine monohydrate. Variations of creatine like you see here have not been studied, so is not clear whether or not they are as effective, or more or less effective, then creatine monohydrate. As with the beta alanine mentioned above, the creatine in this formula is significantly under dosed.
- Arginine: a precursor to nitric oxide arginine is what gives you the pump. I did a full review on arginine a while back (click here to read the review), and the jury is still out as to whether it actually does anything to help build muscle. But it sure feels awesome.
Of course, this product would not be a true pre-workout supplement without an energy blend. It contains hearty dose of caffeine (150 mg) and indiscriminate and likely under-dosed amounts of L – tyrosine, bitter orange, and some B vitamins – all pretty much standard “energy fare” for a product of this type.
In the time between finishing this review and publishing it, Cellucor revised the “Explosive Energy Blend” slightly, dropping the bitter orange and extra B’s, and adding an undetermined amount of Velvet Bean (standardized for l-dopa, the precursor to the neurotransmitter dopamine) and something called TeaCor™, which appears to be a patented version of “theacrine.” Theacrine is an alkaloid similar to caffeine that occurs naturally in Chinese tea, Camellia sinensis. It appears to have anti-inflammatory and analgesic effects. You’ll be seeing more of Theacrine and its amazing energy-boosting effects in the coming months, I’d be willing to bet… despite the fact there are no human-based studies to validate them.
So where does that leave C4 Extreme?
The only problem with concentrated pre-workout formulas like this one, is that the serving size is too small to allow for optimal doses of the core ingredients. Of course, that problem extends to ANY “concentrated” pre-workout sup; not just this one. For instance…
One scoop contains 5.9 grams of ingredients (1 of which is carbohydrate and doesn’t count), which means there’s only room for slightly less than 5 grams of actual ingredient. Obviously, then, it’s impossible for this formula to contain an optimal 5 or 6 gram dose of beta alanine and have “room” for anything else.
On the other hand, a serving of BSN’s No-Xplode contains 18.5 grams (7 of which are carbohydrates), so there’s twice the “room” to include critical ingredients at proven doses (which BSN “blows” by including a “hodge-podge” of un-necessary ingredients to “dress up” the label, but that’s another story).
One way to get around the small dose size is to…
- Increase your serving size – I know plenty of guys who take 2 or even 3 servings of concentrated workout formulas like this one (even though the recommended dose is a single scoop).
The problem with increasing your serving size is that…
- You’re also doubling or tripling the dose of stimulants you’re also taking – which may not be something you want, or depending on a number factors – particularly good for your health.
- It becomes expensive: you’d be better off buying a “non-concentrated” formula that contains the core ingredients at optimal doses.
- It’s no longer a “concentrated” formula. One of the main benefits of concentrated formulas is there small serving size. If you’ve ever taken a two or three scoop dose of a typical pre-workout supplement 20 minutes before workout, you’ll know what I’m talking about. Spending the first half-hour of your workout try not to spew up purple NoExplode all over the bench press is a bit of a pain. The small serving size of concentrated workout supplements require little water to mix and don’t leave you feeling bloated and uncomfortable during workout.
- Practicality: It is simply much more cost effective to purchase a non-concentrated formula if you’re going to start doubling or tripling your dose.
So let’s get to the bottom line…
The problems that it faces with small ingredient dosages is one it shares with all other concentrated pre-workout supplements… it’s under-dosed.
That said, if you’re not looking for optimal dosages of ingredients like creatine, beta alanine, and arginine and just want to get jacked… I highly doubt you’ll be unhappy with this product. I haven’t tried this myself but I have a couple of buddies who really like it; apparently it tastes good, has no aftertaste, causes no bloating or no upset stomach, and offers good, clean energy. Best off, it’s affordably priced; $29.99 at BodyBuilding.com for the 30 serving tub.
If you’ve tried Cellucor’s C4, please do share your experiences with us and our readers in the comments below. And if you’ve tried both the old version and the new version with theacrine, please let us know how they compared, and which you preferred!