Tyler Sellers
Published by Tyler Sellers
Fact checked by Donald Christman, BHSc FACT CHECKED
Last updated: May 8, 2021

Having worked with many clients of very different fitness levels, I have seen first hand how the wrong pre-workout supplement could actually stop you from achieving your goals.

The good news is that Cellucor has created a range of C4 products that aim to support different fitness levels, goals, and workout intensity.

But before you just grab a tub of C4 Ripped because it sounds like what you want to become, let me actually highlight the individual differences and benefits.

5 Top Cellucor C4 Pre-Workouts

1 - C4 Original (Editor's Choice)

C4 Original

This is probably one of the most popular and versatile pre-workouts in the Cellucor range.

With a formula that contains creatine nitrate that claims to make you experience more strength and better pumps, I have seen this make quite a difference to the average athlete.

Just keep in mind that if you regularly do high-intensity workouts, the creatine amount may not be quite enough.

If you like C4, you can also check out our list of the recommended pre-workouts for better pumps.

  • Energy blend ingredients are reportedly effective for power and endurance
  • Contains added vitamins C and B12 for muscle repair
  • 150 mg of caffeine to boost focus and motivation
  • Good selection of flavors to choose from
  • Slightly low on the creatine side

2 - C4 Sport

C4 Sport

The C4 Sport option is the cheapest in the range. It’s most suitable for less intense workouts like running as it doesn’t contain the more powerful ingredients like creatine nitrate and theacrine.

However, you could still get a boost from the beta-alanine, which could help in your average cardio session.

Here you can find other recommended pre-workouts tailored for runners.

If you need maximum energy and performance, this is not going to be your top choice.

  • Contains beta-alanine that has been shown to support endurance
  • Sugar-free option to avoid messing up your diet efforts
  • The small amount of creatine may support performance levels
  • Good value for money
  • It’s only really suitable for less intense workout sessions

3 - C4 Ripped

C4 Ripped

A lot of newcomers to pre-workouts often mistake C4 Ripped as the product they need to gain some muscle.

What it actually aims to do is provide a blend that supports fat loss to gain more muscle definition.

That means this pre-workout doesn’t contain creatine nitrate to give you a strength boost.

The only thing I would say is that there might be more powerful fat burners out there to consider.

  • Formulated to support cutting and weight loss
  • Combination of L-carnitine, green coffee bean extract, and cayenne may boost thermogenesis
  • The reported energy boost from beta-alanine to allow you to complete more reps
  • Comes in a nice selection of flavor options
  • Might not have a strong enough fat-burning effect

This product is also featured in our articleThe Best Pre-workout for Crossfit.

4 - C4 Ultimate

C4 Ultimate

This is by far the strongest supplement for each one of the ingredients.

It doesn’t just provide creatine nitrate and beta-alanine, but also has a large dose of L-citrulline [1].This is known to boost levels of arginine AKG, which in turn increases nitric oxide.

The end result is a reported energy boost and improved pumps.

  • The strong formula makes this more suitable for performance athletes
  • Contains 3.2 g of beta-alanine per serving to maximize endurance
  • 6 g of L-citrulline malate per serving is the strongest we’ve found
  • Highly stimulating allowing for greater focus
  • The 300 mg of caffeine may be too much for some folks

Just keep in mind that a large amount of caffeine could cause jitters and insomnia.

5 - C4 Extreme

C4 Extreme

Despite the name, C4 Extreme is actually not stronger than the Ultimate option.

What it actually provides is a blend that is similar to the Original, but with some extra caffeine.

The big question is whether the added caffeine is actually worth it when the Original has you pretty much covered.

  • Good option due to extra stimulants compared to Original
  • 2 g of beta-alanine claims to be enough to improve stamina
  • 1 g citrulline malate could result in better pumps
  • Available in large tubs of 60 servings
  • The price difference to Original for added caffeine is a bit high

What Are The Common Ingredients?

While the ingredient list of each one of the C4 pre-workout options is slightly different, there is a common list that we’ve identified.

I got together with my dietitian to identify if there was some scientific evidence we could find.

1 - Caffeine

Caffeine comes with the commonly known benefit of providing mental energy and motivation. But it may also get you closer to achieving fitness goals by triggering thermogenic effects [2]. This may cause additional fat oxidation to get you to a leaner appearance.

2 - Beta-Alanine

You probably won’t find any serious bodybuilders who don’t take this. Studies have shown that it may improve weight training performance when taken in concentrated supplement form [3].

3 - Creatine Nitrate

Creatine is an ingredient that has been shown to impact muscle power and pump [4]. Based on all the review comments that we saw, this is one area where all the Cellucor options have a supportive formula.

Creatine nitrate is one of the newer supplement forms showing up in pre-workouts. Manufacturers claim that by binding the creatine molecule to a nitrate molecule, people will receive equal benefits from a smaller dose of creatine nitrate compared to creatine monohydrate.

- Nick Coker, Sports Nutritionist

4 - L-carnitine

The interesting thing about this ingredient is that studies have shown that it plays a key role in transporting energy stored in fat to muscles [5].

5 - L-citrulline

The benefit of this substance is that it may boost arginine AKG levels in your body, which in turn may impact nitric oxide levels. This may support better blood flow to bring more oxygen and energy to your muscles [6].

Benefits Of Using C4 Supplements

Our team here at Total Shape got together after 6 weeks of testing with clients, and we found some important benefits to highlight with the Cellucor range.

First of all, we had some athletes on a daily training program who said that they had no issues taking it every day.

man drinking suppliment

This may not be important for most folks, but it’s reassuring that daily use didn’t trigger negative effects.

Secondly, the powder dissolves quite easily, and you just need a mixer to create a tasty experience. That’s not the case with a lot of other pre-workouts, so it’s a plus from our perspective.

No other brand on the market has such a diverse ingredient range to cover different types of athletes. No matter what your fitness level is, you should find the right version for your needs.

How Long Does C4 Take To Work?

On average, it will take about 30 minutes for C4 pre-workout to work. This may depend on your digestive system, but based on review comments, we found that users report times between 20 and 40 minutes.

I would suggest that you drink it before you leave home, aiming for that half-hour mark before you actually hit the gym for your warm-up routine. It may take a couple of days to fine-tune the timing, and I would suggest making 5-minute adjustments to get the perfect timing.


Can You Stack The C4 Supplements?

Yes, you can stack C4 supplements, as the company has modified the formula of each version to allow for easier stacking. Cellucor also has other well-known supplements on their website that may help you achieve your goals faster.

It would certainly be a good idea to stack your pre-workout with a recovery shake.

One thing I would say though, is that if you’re planning a cutting phase, then rather than stacking the C4 Ripped, you may want to consider some of the other fat burners available that I have recommended before.

Other reviews on popular pre-workouts on the market:


What is the strongest Cellucor C4?

The strongest Cellucor C4 product is C4 Ultimate. For the main energy-boosting ingredients, it has the strongest dose, making it one of the favored options for professional athletes and bodybuilders.

Does Cellucor C4 increase testosterone?

Only one version called C4 Ultimate Power contains ingredients that may boost testosterone levels. It’s essentially a combination of C4 Ultimate and P6 in one single powder.

Is Cellucor C4 considered a steroid?

No, Cellucor C4 is not considered a steroid as it contains natural amino acids to support an improved gym workout making it an organic supplement. However, some versions may contain ingredients like Synephrine HCL, which would be classed as an adrenergic stimulator, which is banned in many sports.

Which Version Of C4 Should You Try First?

Based on all the online review comments and our team’s test results, I think that in most cases, you will be best off with C4 Original.

Yes, it’s not the strongest one available, but unless you’re constantly doing high-intensity training or you’re a professional athlete, the blend may be strong enough for optimum results.

Order your Original C4 today and find out if it will give you the energy boost you’re looking for. And don’t forget to report back to us with your results.

C4 Original

C4 Original

Our #1 C4 Pre-Workout

  • Energy blend ingredients are reportedly effective for power and endurance
  • Contains added vitamins C and B12 for muscle repair
  • 150 mg of caffeine to boost focus and motivation
  • Good selection of flavors to choose from
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