Pre-workout supplements are a booming billion dollar a year industry in America. I use them and I’m not alone. I have been criticized by more than a few Paleo purists for my use of supplements but like my fitness mentor Rich Froning said when asked about his extensive use of supplements in a recent interview “there’s a difference between doing CrossFit and being competitive in CrossFit.” A lot of that difference comes down to diet and training volume. At the top level of performance, supplementing is becoming a must, as the cost and volume of food needed to fuel muscle growth and endurance would be hugely expensive and time consuming. I really don’t care if people have an issue with the supplements I use. When it comes to performance I’ll take any advantage I can get as long as it’s not illegal or damaging to my body. We can debate ethics and the moral high ground after I’m done destroying the weights.
Outside of Optimum Nutrition’s protein products, I’m pretty loyal to BSN’s line of supplements. I’ve used No-Explode and Cell Mass since the day they first came out. I’ve tried many of the other popular products that have come out over the years but I keep coming back to BSN. Recently though I decide to try Cellucor’s C4 pre-workout mix and I have to be honest. I think I’ve found a new favorite. It packs a lot of punch for me, has good flavor, uses small doses compared to the two scoops I needed with No-Explode, and uses less filler. It includes nitric oxide boosters in the form of Arginine AKG and Beta-Alanine, creatine nitrate, caffeine anhydrous and not much else.
There’s not a whole lot I can say about C4. Like any supplement the results can vary and what works best on me may be different for others. I will say that I usually feel an effect within 10 minutes or less depending on how quickly I begin my workout after drinking the mix. There’s the usual face and ear tingle common to most supplements of this nature but beyond that I don’t feel jittery or jumping just pumped and ready to go. This effect lasts for about 2 hours in me so I do not suggest you take this after 5pm if you’re planning on going to sleep that night. Also don’t combine this with caffeinated drinks or any kind of anti-inflammatory like aspirin or Ibuprofen. Also as a final word of caution do not take this on your off days and make sure you cycle off every three weeks or so to give your adrenal system a break and prevent burnout.
I’ve tried the Blue-Raz and Pink Lemonade flavors and have to say the Pink lemonade is my favorite. Both are good and the product has a great taste compared to most I’ve tried but the Blue-Raz is a little too candy like for me. You get a tiny little scooper with each tub that makes No-Explode’s look gigantic by comparison. Cellucor suggests using up to 2 scoops per day but I’ve found one is usually enough for me as a 185lb muscular man. The powder mixes well just be sure to keep the lid sealed tight at all times. I let some moisture and humidity get into my last batch and it’s led to clumping during mixing, something I’ve never experienced with previous batches.
If you’re looking to try a pre-workout supplement I don’t think you’d go wrong with C4. Sometimes I do wonder how much of my PR’s are coming from raw strength and how much is from the supplement but after experimenting with lifts both on and off C4 there was no measurable difference in weight load capability. If you’re a professional competitor be advised C4 has led to false positives in drug tests so I’d stay clear or at the least check with your sport’s governing body before incorporating or any similar pre-workout supplement in your program.