By Brian Grant PT, DPT, CSCS
In an ideal world, every workout would be your best. Week to week, workout to workout, your performance would continue to improve until you’re the strongest, leanest or most athletic person around. That’s worth signing up for. Of course, nothing worth achieving is ever quite so easy.
Because you’ve tuned into this article, I imagine that vision is what keeps your mental and physical engines humming. Putting yourself through purposeful torture in order to look and perform optimally is admirable. However, accomplishing this task—training with appropriate effort and energy isn’t easy.
Energy is tangible and, without regaling some “imagine your body is a car” analogy, it is a collection of biological chemicals that makes you go. A long day at work, a tough morning of classes or a sleepless night can render your body void of energy. Sure, you might have enough energy to make lunch or chat with friends, but productive training is an entirely different beast. This is where pre-workout nutrition enters the fray.
Whether you’re training for muscle growth, athletic performance or anything in between, appropriate pre-workout nutrition can mean the difference between productive training and toiling time away. In order to achieve the former, your body should be hydrated, well fed and have optimal energy. With these physiological variables in place, the ideal world becomes far more attainable. It’s for this reason the family of C4 products was created.
The ingredients. The taste. And of course, the training.
First and foremost are the ingredients. Our family of C4 products combine formulations for peak performance and energy, so every base of your workout is covered. But what are these ingredients? Are they safe, and do they work? You’ve come to the right place.
Likely the most widely studied and universally accepted exercise supplement of all-time is creatine monohydrate. Also found in red meat and fish, creatine is a molecule that's produced organically from amino acids. It stores high-energy phosphate groups, which aid in regenerating ATP, the primary energy carrier in the body.
These processes are magnified during resistance training.
NOR-T Creatine Nitrate is a premium form of creatine which provides 2-in-1 support for both strength and nitric oxide performance. This highly soluble, university studied form of creatine is found in C4 Original, C4 Extreme, C4 Ultimate, and C4 Dynasty.
A 2021 review by Wax et al. analyzed some 180 articles evaluating creatine’s efficacy on athletic performance. The research was quoted to say:
“Due to its potential not only to enhance strength and power output but also to expedite recovery from intense intermittent exercise, creatine supplementation has been shown to allow for increased volumes of work and increased work output during resistance training, which may then translate into greater strength gains.”
Beta-alanine (BA) is a chemical widely talked about but rarely understood. BA is a building block of carnosine, which is a molecule helping to buffer acid accumulation within the working muscles3. Through a myriad of processes, this acid accumulation fatigues muscles, especially fast-twitch muscles, during high-intensity exercise.
In a meta-analysis by Hobson et al., eighteen studies were analyzed, each comparing beta-alanine with placebo during high-intensity exercise. The authors concluded that for intense exercise bouts lasting 1-4 minutes in duration, beta-alanine promoted superior performance. If you’re a lifter performing cluster sets, antagonistic training, HIIT cardio or any other modality of exercise fitting this criteria, beta-alanine should be a staple within your pre-workout nutrition.
C4 contains CarnoSyn Beta-Alanine, the world’s most premium and clinically studied version of the ingredient – with incredible results from over 55 human clinical trials.
If you’ve ever wondered why your blood vessels and muscles feel larger and more swollen while training, you’ve got nitric oxide (NO) to thank. NO is a molecule which promotes increased blood flow via blood vessel dilation during intense exercise. Increased blood flow means more oxygen and other nutrients can pour into the working muscles during intense exercise. Citrulline is a non-essential amino acid and a sort of biological precursor for nitric oxide.
Favorable outcomes for citrulline malate (CM) recently came from a meta-analysis by Varvik et al. This meta-analysis compiled data from eight different studies, each looking at performance across a broad landscape of upper and lower-body resistance exercises either with or without CM supplementation. Subjects who supplemented with CM prior to exercise completed about 6% more repetitions across sets than did their placebo counterparts.
With these results, the team concluded that supplementing with CM prior to exercise effectively delays muscular fatigue and promotes muscular endurance during high-intensity strength training.
Caffeine is one of the most widely consumed chemicals in the world. Used often as a morning pick-me-up, caffeine also has benefit for weight trainees. Some research suggests that maximum power output can be improved if caffeine is consumed about 30-60 minutes prior to exercise. However, the majority of caffeine’s benefits come from the ability to incorporate larger training volumes over the course of a workout. In other words, caffeine may help you lift heavier weight, and it also augments the ability to lift heavy weight for longer periods of time. Win-win.
Important to note too is that caffeine promotes other positive effects akin to the gym. Improved cognition, focus and arousal from caffeine are a welcome addition to any workout.
Now that you’ve learned the science in the scoop, you’re equipped to discern which member of the C4 family mirrors your training style. Each of the following pre-workout products comes in a variety of delicious flavors.
The pre-workout that started it all, C4 Original has been best in show for nearly a decade. Containing crucial amounts of creatine, beta-alanine and caffeine, this pre-workout comes packed with every essential promoting the energy and focus necessary to dominate any workout.*
The original pre-workout for athletes, C4 Sport contains an ensemble of ingredients including caffeine, beta-alanine and creatine monohydrate to ensure lasting energy and performance throughout any workout. NSF Certified for Sport®, C4 Sport has been engineered by athletes—for athletes.*
Meeting at the intersection of tireless research and robust testing is C4 Ultimate. Six grams of citrulline and over three grams of beta-alanine provide an unrivaled and evidence-based pre-workout for serious athletes. Powerful pumps, mental focus and peak performance are the hallmarks of C4 Ultimate.*
*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.
1. Examine.com. (2021, February 4). Creatine - health Benefits, Dosage, side effects. Examine.com. https://examine.com/supplements/creatine/.
2. Wax, B., Kerksick, C. M., Jagim, A. R., Mayo, J. J., Lyons, B. C., & Kreider, R. B. (2021). Creatine for Exercise and Sports Performance, with Recovery Considerations for Healthy Populations. Nutrients, 13(6), 1915.
3. Hobson, R. M., Saunders, B., Ball, G., Harris, R. C., & Sale, C. (2012). Effects of β-alanine supplementation on exercise performance: a meta-analysis. Amino acids, 43(1), 25-37.
4. Harty, P. S., Zabriskie, H. A., Erickson, J. L., Molling, P. E., Kerksick, C. M., & Jagim, A. R. (2018). Multi-ingredient pre-workout supplements, safety implications, and performance outcomes: A brief review. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, 15(1), 1-28.
5. Vårvik, F. T., Bjørnsen, T., & Gonzalez, A. M. (2021). Acute Effect of Citrulline Malate on Repetition Performance During Strength Training: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism, 31(4), 350-358.
6. Goldstein, E. R., Ziegenfuss, T., Kalman, D., Kreider, R., Campbell, B., Wilborn, C., ... & Antonio, J. (2010). International society of sports nutrition position stand: caffeine and performance. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, 7(1), 1-15.
7. McLellan, T. M., Caldwell, J. A., & Lieberman, H. R. (2016). A review of caffeine’s effects on cognitive, physical and occupational performance. Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews, 71, 294-312.