Within the supplement realm, two pre-workouts reign supreme and have stood the test of time; I refer of course to USPlabs Jack3d and Cellucor’s C4. Both products boast one of the highest ratings on supplement review sites such as BodyBuidling.com and Supplementreviews.com with a whopping 8.8/10.
Let’s take a look under the “hood” of these ultra concentrated pre-workouts and acknowledge their similarities while highlighting what makes them unique and ultimately find out which one is best for you.
First, we will take a closer look at Jack3d, which is arguably the new “gold standard” of pre-workout supplements in the market. Jack3d has been awarded two Bodybuilding.com “Best Of” awards for “Best Pre-Workout” and “Best Energy Supplement.”
USPlab’s Jack3d also made famous ‘ultra concentrated scoops,’ calling out other companies for hyping their products with “filler” ingredients that made the scoops/bottles appear bigger when really they were just bogging your system down. Jack3d is also the best value on the market, $20-$30 for 45 servings, depending on your location.
Jack3d Ingredient Profile
Jack3d contains very few ingredients, and each one works synergistically with the others to deliver the ultimate energy, focus and pump for your most intense training sessions, lets break them down and get to know what each ingredient is responsible for.
- Arginine Alpha-Ketoglutarate (CarnoSyn) – This is a “pump” product, the patented form of arginine.
- Creatine Monohydrate – The single most studied/researched ingredient in the supplement kingdom which provides a host of benefits, some being increased size, strength and endurance. This is part of a proprietary blend so we do not know the exact amount used; I would still recommend a post workout dose of 5g creatine monohydrate.
- Beta Alanine – Reduces lactic acid build up during the workout; increases endurance throughout your training session, allowing you to squeeze out those last few reps.
- Caffeine – Powerful CNS (central nervous system) stimulant used to fight off fatigue and increase mental alertness as well as increase endurance.
- 1,3- DMAA – A very powerful stimulant that delivers unparalleled energy and focus. This ingredient is taking a lot of heat currently but multiple studies show that its consumption is safe for healthy adults. It is NOT banned in the U.S.A- however check with your employers, governing body for sports before taking.
- Schisandra – another stimulant may increase mental output. Users report an increased mental focus/drive.
Jack3d carries a vast variety of flavors ranging from their classic lemon lime, tropical fruit punch, and menthol berry ice, among many others. Many flavors are only available from GNC, Super Supplements or Vitamin Shoppe. I don’t base any of my reviews on taste; to me it doesn’t matter as long as the product delivers. However, I really enjoy these flavors, taste great and are not filled with “crap” like many other products are.
C4 Extreme by Cellucor quickly stepped out of the shadow of other pre-workouts on the market and has since given Jack3d a run for their money so to speak. C4 is a little less stimulant focused but excels in the “pump” department. Due to the litigations on 1,3 DMAA they decided to not include that ingredient in their profile to appeal to the crowd who isn’t able to take supplements that contain the DMAA; USPLabs also released a new product called Jack3d Micro to meet the demand for a performance, pumped, based product which also excludes the 1,3 DMAA.
C4 Extreme Ingredient Profile
I am not going to list every single ingredient they use for this product but highlight the major players in C4, what their uses are and how Jack3d and C4 are similar yet different.
- Beta Alanine – Acts as a buffer in the muscles, fight fatigue caused by acid build ups; leads to those extra few reps throughout your work outs.
- Creatine Nitrate – Cellucors NO3 technology- it is creatine bonded to a nitrate. It has been shown to cause vasodilation. Same as the USPlabs Jack3d, there is not enough creatine in this product. An additional source would be needed to see creatines full benefits.
- Arginine AKG – another pump based ingredient.
The explosive energy blend is a proprietary blend of (741mg) which includes-
- Vitamin C– Anti oxidant.
- N-Acetyl-L-Tyrosine– A key ingredient that plays a role in cognitive function and motivation.
- Caffeine– 135mg of caffeine which is a stimulant.
- Mucuna Pruriens– L-dopa thought to lead to more dopamine production which would increase motivation and cognitive function and perhaps adrenalin release.
- Niacin (as Niacianmide) – this is a B vitamin, used for energy.
- Synephrine– Can help release adrenalin, “ephedrine’s cousin” though little scientific evidence has confirmed this. However, this ingredient users will feel, it is still a powerful stimulant.
- Folic Acid/Vitamin B12– B vitamins used for energy.
So, Jack3d or C4?
Each product packs a powerful “punch” if you will, and meet the needs of all types of athletes. USPLabs Jack3d definitively wins in the category of customer value (price per serving) flavor selection and energy/focus. The only downside of Jack3d is that is contains the ingredient 1,3 DMAA which has had a lot of negative press for the wrong reasons, leading to several “bans.” In response USPLabs conducted several safety studies and created Jack3d Micro which is an excellent performance pump/focus pre-workout to meet the needs of all their customers.
Cellucor’s C4 extreme wins in my book when it comes to the users over all pump because of the nitrates included in the ingredient profile. They also sport a few very tasty flavors. C4 isn’t nearly as stimulant heavy as Jack3d which appeals to some and less so for others.
Overall each of these products is a winner in my book. They mix extremely well, taste great and deliver the results one seeks when conquering the gym. If you were to ask me which one is the “best” I would respond by asking what your goals/needs are in a energy supplement, Jack3d is preferred by me when I am ready to go ALL OUT in the gym, leave it all on the floor and have someone drag my body out after four hours of training while C4 is used for the days I want skin tearing pumps; it all comes down to personal preference and which supplement works best for YOUR body.
“The last three or four reps is what makes the muscle grow. This area of pain divides the champion from someone else who is not a champion. That’s what most people lack, having the guts to go on and just say they’ll go through the pain no matter what happens.” –Arnold Schwarzenegger