When it comes to pre-workouts, C4 is right at the top of the list in terms of popularity.  From the average, run-of-the-mill gym-goer to the highly specialized competitive athlete, just about anyone involved in the fitness world has likely come across C4.  

Although it may be extremely popular as far as pre-workouts go, a closer examination of the supplement facts reveals that C4 may not be all that effective when it comes to actually enhancing your workout performance.   

In order to explore its shortcomings, we’re comparing the ingredient profile of C4 to MPO, our own pre-workout specifically designed to improve muscle function and performance.  Before we dive into the specifics, however, let’s first discuss what sort of things you should be looking for in a pre-workout.  

What Should You Look For in a Pre-Workout?

The end goal of taking a pre-workout supplement is to make improvements in your performance — i.e. you want to get bigger, faster, stronger, etc.  So the question is, does your pre-workout actually help with this or does it just get you amped up?

Stimulants like caffeine are the main ingredient in many pre-workouts and while they may help to fire up your central nervous system, the issue is that they don’t actually do anything on a muscle cellular level.  

As opposed to stimulants, what you really want to look for in an effective pre-workout supplement are ergogenic aids.  Ergogenic aids are substances that have been found to enhance muscle function through one or more of the following ways:

  • Increasing the amount of available energy in your muscles 
  • Increasing endurance in your muscles so you can perform longer (i.e. more sets, reps, time under tension, etc..)
  • Enhancing the underlying processes/biochemical pathways that make muscles bigger, stronger, and more powerful (i.e. stimulate muscle protein synthesis/mTOR)   
  • Decreasing the amount of protein breakdown that occurs as a result of intense physical exercise (i.e. improve muscle recovery and adaptation)

What’s in C4 Pre-Workout?

The unfortunate reality is that many pre-workout products, including C4, either don’t contain the right kinds of muscle-enhancing ingredients, or if they do, they’re underdosed, meaning that they don’t contain a large enough concentration of the substance to elicit the desired effects. 

What Are The Shortcomings of C4?

Although C4 does contain some ergogenic substance, they’re underdosed, meaning that there is not enough of the substance in a single serving to elicit any kind of measurable effects.  

On top of that, C4 also includes several substances that either have no known benefit, or at least, aren’t known to directly affect any of the underlying processes involved in building size, strength, and endurance.

It’s Underdosed in Beta-Alanine and Creatine

While there is plenty of evidence that beta-alanine is an effective ergogenic substance that helps to increase muscular endurance — it’s been shown to increase aerobic capacity in numerous human-based trials — C4 contains 400 mg less than the standard dose of 2 grams, which ultimately means that you likely won’t experience the desired effects with a single serving of C4.  

In addition to beta-alanine, the other ergogenic substance featured in C4 — creatine — is also underdosed.  While countless studies have shown creatine to be an effective ergogenic substance — it helps to increase the amount of available energy in your muscle cells when you work out — C4 only contains 1 gram of creatine, which is significantly below that standard recommendation of 3 – 5 grams.  

It Contains Ineffective Ingredients Like Arginine along With Vitamins and Minerals

On top of being underdosed in otherwise effective muscle-enhancing substances, C4 also contains ingredients like arginine alpha-ketoglutarate, which has actually been shown to be ineffective in a number of human-based trials even though it’s commonly touted as a muscle pump agent.   

Additionally, C4 features numerous vitamins and minerals, which may be good for your overall health, but have not been shown to contribute to any kind of improvements in muscular performance in healthy individuals.  

While micronutrient deficiencies can indeed impinge on muscle function, if you are deficient, there’s likely more benefits to be had from taking a multivitamin as opposed to a pre-workout.    

It Uses Proprietary Blends 

C4 also contains proprietary blends, which have become increasingly unpopular amongst supplement users due to the fact their ingredient compositions typically aren’t clear — i.e. you may only have limited info on the exact ingredients/dosages.  

In the case of C4, while we know what basic ingredients are in the “explosive energy blend”, we ultimately don’t have any dosage information when it comes to substances like l-tyrosine and theacrine.    

What’s In MPO?

So while C4 may be packed full of various ingredients, many of them are either underdosed or have been shown to be ineffective, which ultimately means that while it may help to stimulate your central nervous, C4 may not be all that effective when we’re talking about actually improving the ways in which your muscles work.  

Unlike C4 however, MPO contains only proven ergogenic ingredients at clinical dosages; no fillers, no stimulants, and no underdosed or ineffective substance.

Why is MPO a Better Choice Than C4 Legend?

MPO contains 5 different ergogenic ingredients all at dosages which have been shown to be effective in multiple human-based trials. Furthermore, all of the ingredients in MPO have been shown to have synergistic effects, meaning that they become even more effective when taken together.  

The different ingredients in MPO have been found to improve muscle function in multiple ways, helping to cumulatively increase strength, energy, and endurance, as well as enhance the underlying mechanisms behind muscle adaptation.    

It Contains a Standard Dosage Creatine For Improved Cellular Energy

MPO contains a standard dose of 4.5 grams of creatine monohydrate per serving (compared to only 1 gram per serving in C4).  It’s been well documented that creatine helps to boost your body’s levels of ATP, which is an important biochemical that helps to provide your muscle cells with energy when you workout.  

The increased availability of ATP in your muscle cells, in turn, allows you to push yourself harder in the gym — i.e. more sets, reps, time under tension, etc — which ultimately equates to greater gains when all is said and done.  

It Has a Standard Dosage of Beta-Alanine For Improved Endurance

Beta-alanine is one of the few ingredients that both C4 and MPO have in common however, unlike C4, MPO contains a standard dosage of 2 grams per serving.  There is an ample body of evidence that beta-alanine helps to improve muscular endurance through inhibiting the accumulation of chemical-by products in your muscles.  

When your muscles burn up energy, they leave behind lactic acid (and other chemicals) which as they accumulate, blocks the influx of more energy into your muscles.  Inhibiting the accumulation of these chemical by-products when you’re working out ultimately translates into more endurance — i.e. you’ll be able to push yourself harder and further before you reach exhaustion.  

It has HICA, HMB, and Phosphatidic Acid to Enhance The Muscle-Building Process

MPO also contains clinical doses of 3 other ergogenic aids which have all been shown to enhance the underlying mechanism behind muscle growth and recovery.  HICA and phosphatic acid, for instance, have both been shown to significantly increase muscle protein synthesis (MPS), which refers to the biological process through which your body builds new muscle tissues — higher levels of MPS translate to more muscle growth over time.      

In addition to spiking MPS, HMB has also been shown to decrease the amount of protein breakdown that results from intense physical activity like exercising — less protein breakdown ultimately means a shorter recovery period.  The combination of more protein synthesis and less breakdown, in turn, equates to an improved muscle-building potential, leading to greater increases in size and strength.   

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Wrap Up

Although C4 may be a popular pre-workout supplement, it ultimately contains too many underdosed and ineffective ingredients to affect any kind of substantial improvement to your workout performance.  

Instead, only supplements like MPO, which contain clinical doses of proven ergogenic substance can actually enhance muscle function, helping you to achieve real, measurable improvements in strength and endurance.  

On top of improving your muscles’ endurance and available energy supplies, MPO also helps to enhance the underlying mechanisms behind muscle growth, helping to maximize your muscle-building potential, instead of simply getting you amped up and jittery.