Welcome to my first supplement review! Here I’ll discuss supplements I either currently use and those I’ve used in the past. I’ll break down the details of the supplement facts to the best of my ability, why I use those particular supplements, and in the case of those I no longer use, why I stopped using them.
Our first subject is the first pre workout I had used in nearly six years and the one that, for two years, essentially revitalized my training sessions along with my motivation to do anything at night. This review is about Cellucor’s C4 Pre Workout.
It was October 2015 and I joined New York Sports Club in Clifton, NJ. This would mark my first time in a gym since I left New York City more than a month earlier and because my girlfriend would be joining me I’d find myself waiting until she came home from work around 7pm. So by the time I got to the gym I’d be pretty tired and while the fatigue didn’t hit right away, my workouts would in fact slowly start to suffer by the time the holiday season rolled around. So, if memory serves me correct, that’s when I began researching pre workouts.
At this point the last time I had used any kind of pre workout powder was Gaspari Nutrition’s SuperPump 250 back in April of 2010. I had to stop for reasons I’ll probably get into in another article. I bought a stimulant free pre wourkout a few days after Christmas, but after one very good workout on New Year’s Eve it did nothing for me ever again. While I was admittedly not well versed in clinical dosages at the time, I read many reviews from people taking many different pre workouts and the most amount of positive reviews I found were for C4.
I bought my first canister maybe a week or two later and I used it for the first time a few nights afterward. I drank it a good five minutes before leaving in an exhausted and therefore weakened state. Then, while on the road and still just over five minutes away from my destination, I was hit with the strongest tingling sensation I’d ever received from any pre workout up to that point. And if you like the feeling of pins hitting you then this stuff is truly for you! Even more fitting? It was leg day. I short, my squats were literally the most explosive they had ever been, with my being able to hit more reps at 225 then I had ever been able to at that time. All it took was just one scoop and I was a maniac that night, to the point that even after I finished for the night I still wanted to do more. That’s when I knew C4 was my buddy!
One aspect of C4 that persuaded me to give it a try was that, while the profile wasn’t necessarily “bares bones” (we’ll get to that in a bit), it was significantly more stripped down than SuperPump was, simply meaning less of any unnecessary ingredients.
In terms of vitamin dosages, C4 contains 250mg of Vitamin C, 500mcg (micrograms) and Vitamin B6 and 35mcg of Vitamin B12. Also included are 30mg of Niacin, which was the same amount found in the original SuperPump formula. Niacin, which is essentially Vitamin B3, is important for general health. However, according to Web MD, high amounts can also improve cholesterol levels and lower cardiovascular risks. However, you can also experience what is called the “Niacin flush”. The vessels in your skin dilate, causing your blood to rush through your body. While it’s nothing to worry about, some of you taking it might or might have already experienced your face turning red because of it. You might also experience a burning or itching sensation; I’d know, it’s made me itch quite a bit at times! Again, it’s nothing harmful, but according to VeryWellFit, it can scare you if you don’t know it’s coming. The recommended dosage for Niacin is 16mg, making the dosage found in C4 to be 14mg higher.
The most important ingredient here that SuperPump did not contain was 1.6g of Beta Alanine. Beta Alanine – the source of the falling pins sensation I mentioned earlier – is the cursor to Carnosine. Carnosine is a protein, therefore it can be broken down. However, it’s been proven to be beneficial for it’s anti-aging benefits and well as increased energy. That’s way Beta-Alanine has been used more and more for increased Carnosine production.
Watch Out For Those Proprietary Blends
Now for why I decided to stop using C4 after my last competition in May 2017. As I started to become more conscious of proper clinical dosages, the one subject always popping up was that of these Proprietary Blends. If you look on the labels of most pre workout powders, you might find it under some fancy name, Cellucor calls it their “Explosive Energy Blend”, as can be seen in the picture below.
This particular blend will at least tell you that it contains a combined total of 371mg, and that 150 of those mg come from Caffeine Anhydrous. But what about the TeaCor Tetramethyluric acid? What about Velvet Bean Seed Extract, or the N-Acetyl – L-Tyrosine? The problem with proprietary blends is that the companies making them use it as a way to avoid revealing that those indregients are most likely very under dosed…and probably a bit unnecessary.
Mixing Creatine And Caffeine
This argument is nothing new, and I honestly don’t know that I can possibly shed any innovative suggestions on it myself. But I can surely offer more close to a year and a half’s worth of my own personal experience. Caffeine is a diuretic, which means the no matter how energetic you are, water excretion will be increased too. In other words, you’ll be hitting the bathroom quite a bit. On top of that, Creatine, arguably the safest of any supplement, is supposed to draw water into the muscle. And this is where the argument begins.
It’s been my experience that, for as much praise as I would’ve given C4 back in February 2016, I cannot begin to tell you how many times I had to stop what I was doing and run to the bathroom in just one training session. Nothing is worse than preparing to pull 315lbs for the first time ever and just as you’re getting set up the urge to go comes on and you can’t stop it. And what’s worse was that my bathroom breaks would last much longer than they should have, and would eventually impede on my job.
At first my girlfriend suggested I go see a urologist, but I had a feeling this wasn’t something that necessarily needed a doctor’s visit for. After doing research on the relationship between caffeine and Creatine, as well as talking to a few friends in the gym, it dawned on me that whatever water was being pulled in by the Creatine just might have also been pulled out by the caffeine. Sure, on one end of the spectrum, I almost believe it’s at least part of the reason I dropped down from a bloated 190lbs to a much leaner 176 at the time. But after while the constant urge to go finally got too uncomfortable for me. That’s when I knew that I was going to try something new after my last competition, the RPS Jersey Rumble last May. I’ve not taken any pre workout containing Creatine since that time.
If you don’t mind taking a pre workout powder containing Creatine, then by all means feel free to give it a shot. I do suggest, however, to be mindful of anything containing proprietary blend. Having said that, I absolutely loved the rush C4 gave me, and I did have a some great moments while taking it, including my first 375lb Deadlift and my first 330lb Squat. It was the first time I truly felt so focused on my lifts, which was so helpful considering my late night schedule. But I now prefer any pre workout with a more bare bones profile, meaning the dosages for all ingredients can be seen and nothing’s left out or left to chance.