In it’s red shotgun shell casing, 4 Gauge truly looks like the ultimate pre workout.
And it knows exactly who it’s target market is.
With slogans like “Load Up Your Guns!” plastered on the tub, it conjures up images of workouts no less intense than Rambo defeating the entire Russian army in 1985.
Just reading the hype which accompanies the product could perhaps be enough to make 4 Gauge double-up as a testosterone booster.
But once we get inside the product, does it leave you firing blanks?
Or is it going to blow your face off?
(See what I did there?)
OK. I’ll stop.
It’s been making it’s name as one of the fastest-rising pre workouts on the UK market, but today this product from Roar Ambition (yes, they really spell it like that) faces it’s toughest challenge to date, as I smash it through my deliberately harsh supplement rating system to see how it truly compares against the leaders in the pre workout class.
No supplement has ever made it out with 5 stars intact.
During my comprehensive Roar Ambition 4 Gauge pre workout review below, I’ll walk you through the pro’s and con’s of this supplement to show you what you will not see in any of the adverts.
4 Gauge Pre Workout Review – The Good
As always, let’s begin with a round-up of the good aspects on show.
After the commercial success of Grenade, who became the undisputed packaging kings with their overly macho, battle-themed gimmick a few years ago, we’ve seen numerous other brands try to replicate this in their own products.
For instance, RedCon1 did this to great success.
(and their Total War remains one of the best pre workouts on the market.)
4 Gauge heads down the same route, and this is a great thing!
After all, there’s nothing wrong with fun, creative packaging. But there’s a little bit more here than just a pretty tub.
We get a clinical dose of citrulline malate which, at 6 grams per serving, will provide you with some killer pumps and increased training endurance.
Interestingly, we also get a 100mg dose of rhodiola rosea. This feel-good herb will improve your mood and delay the onset of fatigue.
Finally, there’s no proprietary blend, too, which is always great to see.
At around £20 for a 20 serving tub, 4 Gauge is competitively priced and you could easily spend more on products which don’t really offer any additional bang for your buck. Greater savings can be enjoyed by using their handy bulk buying option, too.
4 Gauge Pre Workout Review – The Bad
I know why you came to read this review. You came to see me rip apart the poor aspects of 4 Gauge. The stuff none of the flashy adverts will show you.
Well, there’s no shortage of material here.
The impressive hype page which Roar Ambition put together for 4 Gauge claims that this product is (and I s**t you not) “the most researched and developed pre workout on the market…”
It also calls itself “the safest and strongest pre workout on the market…”
Modesty is not one of the ingredients, as you can see. But with all of this hype, we must be onto a winner here, then?
Well, allow me to call bulls**t on this.
First off, that dosage of rhodiola rosea could be a little higher.
If you want to make the most of this feel-good herb for training purposes, it’s easy to find supplements which use an increased dosage of 150mg, such as Reclaim by Outbreak Nutrition.
Creatine is included, too.
It’s a wonderful supplement for boosting your strength, but there are no additional benefits to consuming it before you train, so it doesn’t belong in a pre workout supplement. Couple that with the fact that 4 Gauge only provides you with a mere 1 gram anyway. Triple that with the fact that they try to put a positive spin on this by claiming that this serving size “doubles the level of creatine your body produces naturally” but fail to mention the fact that it’s still nowhere near the clinical dose required to see any training benefits (which is 5 grams).
This is a huge red flag for a supplement that shouts so loudly about being clinically dosed!
There are more instances of this, too, as you’ll see below.
Beta-alanine is not included.
There’s also a little bit of silly advice on the company’s website regarding whether customers can take double servings in order to increase the effectiveness of the product.
Not only does this wreak havoc on any pricing benefits I mentioned in the last segment (you’d now be paying £20 for just 10 servings) but it also increases the amount of citrulline malate to a whopping 12 grams, which is unnecessary as maximum training benefits top out at a dosage of 6-8 grams.
If you’ve adapted to 4 Gauge and you’re no longer feeling that “kick” when you take it, it’s simply because there’s not that much caffeine in the product.
(At 150mg per serving, there are far more potent pre workouts on the market if you’re a caffeine junkie.)
4 Gauge Pre Workout Review – Ingredient Breakdown
Now that I’ve covered the main good and bad points with 4 Gauge, let’s go deeper by taking a more comprehensive look at each of the key ingredients you’ll find inside the tub.
Because when scrolling through Google researching for this content, I stumbled across a plethora of uneducated, bland 5 star reviews for this product which resembled poorly constructed sales pitches.
They didn’t teach any information about what you should actually be looking for when you buy a new pre workout supplement, so let me take a look at all of the ingredients.
We’ll start with the power player.
- 6g Citrulline Malate
I’ve said it time and time again – citrulline malate is the most important ingredient to look for when buying a new pre workout supplement!
If you can reach a dose of 6-8 grams, you’re golden.
Thankfully, 4 Gauge really goes all-out here and hits the full clinical dosage, making it the main ingredient in each serving.
Buy why is citrulline so important?
Well, if you read my blog on Why You Should Use Citrulline Malate, you’ll know that supplementing with citrulline has been shown to increase recovery between sets, improve the number of reps performed before muscle failure, and provide a killer pump. (1, 2)
During a study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research back in 2010, researchers showed that supplementing with citrulline improved training performance by an average of 1 more rep on every single set!
Think long-term with your gains here, and those kind of results are potentially excellent.
This is achieved by improving nutrient delivery and blood flow to the muscles while they work, via increased nitric oxide levels.
Many pre workouts still use the old fashioned approach regarding N.O. pathways, which is to do it with the inclusion of arginine. However, it’s worth knowing that arginine has a very poor absorption rate and is almost entirely destroyed by the liver and kidneys when supplemented, so despite the bold marketing claims surrounding it, the benefits of arginine are almost impossible to experience.
The interesting thing here is that once citrulline is inside the body, it is actually converted into arginine. And it has a much greater absorption ratio (one study showed it to be 50% greater), making it a superior way to supplement with arginine than using arginine itself. (3)
- 150mg Caffeine
Caffeine is the second big-hitter inside the red shells of 4 Gauge, but this time the news isn’t so great.
Sure, caffeine has been shown to improve several aspects of training performance including mental focus, overall energy levels, and total calorie burn (although this one diminishes over time). (4, 5, 6)
Primarily billed as an energy booster and sometimes as a fat burner (falsely, might I add, given that the fat burning effects are largely subjective to the individual’s tolerance levels), what most people don’t know about caffeine is that it has also been shown to improve explosive power output during resistance training. (7, 8, 9)
So what’s the bad news?
Well, the increased power output I mentioned above has only been shown with a dosage of 400mg (the dose you’ll find in AML Pre Workout). This was confirmed in a 2012 meta-analysis which looked at over 70 clinical studies on caffeine. (10)
Most pre workouts don’t go as high as 400mg, so those strength benefits go untouched, but with 4 Gauge coming in at just 150mg it is well short of the mark.
Notably, the same meta-analysis I mentioned above also pointed out that consuming less than 2.1mg per kg of body weight doesn’t provide any of caffeine’s potential training benefits at all!
That means a guy of 175lbs requires at least 168mg caffeine, making the caffeine dose in 4 Gauge completely ineffective.
- 200mg L-Theanine
One of the lesser-known ingredients in 4 Gauge, l-theanine complements caffeine quite nicely by providing a calming, somewhat relaxing sensation.
In theory, this allows you to experience a longer lasting sense of energy from your caffeine intake without a crash, as mentioned in the study which Roar Ambition referenced when discussing their inclusion of this substance. (11)
And while a dose of 200mg is enough to be potent, so much of the success of this ingredient hinges on it’s combination with the aforementioned caffeine, which is under-dosed.
Quite frankly, in order to really shout about the “longer lasting energy and zero crash!” aspect of this supplement, we should be seeing the inclusion of teacrine, which has been shown to do just that. (17)
- 1g Creatine Monohydrate
Creatine monohydrate is the best-selling bodybuilding supplement of all time.
You don’t get that kind of acclaim by accident.
Supplementing with creatine is a sure-fire way to increase muscle mass and explosive strength.
A great meta-analysis published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research back in 2012 looked at the huge body of research (dating back over 30 years!) and confirmed that regular supplementation caused trainees to achieve an average strength increase of 8%! It also boosted the average number of repetitions to muscle failure by a huge 14%! (12)
The problem is creatine doesn’t need to be included in your pre workout in order to be effective. You’ll get the full benefits by hitting your daily dose regardless of when it is consumed, and there are no additional training benefits to consuming it immediately prior to training.
It is included here as a filler ingredient, nothing more. That is confirmed when we look at the dose, which is a mere 1 gram!
To get the undoubtedly impressive strength training benefits I mentioned above (the same benefits Roar Ambition shout about on their sales page, by the way) we would require a daily dose of 5 grams.
This means if you rely on 4 Gauge to meet your creatine needs, you’d still need to pick up a secondary creatine supplement to make up the rest of your daily dose. (13)
- 300mg Beta Vulgaris
Beetroot has long been touted as a nitric oxide booster.
But that’s where the good news ends regarding beta vulgaris.
As reported by Kaged Muscle, many supplement companies are throwing beetroot extract into their formula purely so they can make muscle pump claims on the label. In truth, in order to draw the full nitric oxide benefits of beetroot we’d need to consume around 450mg of nitrates from beetroot extract.
Looking at the 300mg included in 4 Gauge, it’s already under-dosed, right?
It gets worse…
Notice how I mentioned 450mg nitrates above, not 450mg beta vulgaris. A moderate source of beta vulgaris (the type found in most supplements) yields only around a 1% nitrate conversion, and a great source yields about 1.5% nitrate conversion. So at 300mg beta vulgaris, we’re looking at a total of just 3-4.5mg nitrate!
In fact, you’d need to consume a whopping 20-25 grams of beetroot extract to pull enough nitrates to provide the pump benefits they talk about on the damn label.
(That would be a serving so big that it dwarfs the total serving size of all the ingredients in 4 Gauge combined.)
It has other health benefits, too, but if a company wants to make claims about enhancing your muscle pump via beetroot extract (which is the first and only thing Roar Ambition talk about in their reasons for including this ingredient), then severely under-dosing the ingredient has to be seen as another big red flag.
- 100mg Rhodiola Rosea
This feel-good herb is a great addition to 4 Gauge.
In fact, it may just be it’s saving grace.
Continued supplementation with rhodiola rosea has been shown to reduce fatigue, greatly increase mood and has even been linked to greater longevity. (14, 15, 16)
While 100mg is indeed enough to see some of those positive benefits (especially the mood boosting aspect it brings), you can easily find other pre workouts which offer you a more substantial serving at around 150mg.
- 300mg Coconut Water
Coconut water is all the rage at the minute.
From your favourite daytime TV celebrity, to the new-age parents at the school yard who pick their kids up in sandals, it seems everyone is telling us that we “need to be drinking coconut water, dude.”
Roar Ambition hail it as “nature’s own electrolyte-packed sports tonic!”, citing a study which shows that consuming coconut water has similar effects to a sports drink. (18)
This is something I like to call cherry picking.
Because there are several studies out there which show that consuming coconut water does not produce any improvement versus consuming a regular sports drink. (19, 20, 21, 22)
Until recently, supplement companies could get around this by stating that no study has yet looked at the consumption of coconut water during exercise, and that that’s what they really meant when they made their big, bold claims about why you should be using it.
Well, that changed in 2017 when a team of researchers from the UK published a great study in Human Kinetics Journals. (23)
During the trial, they put 10 participants through a tough cycling workout while supplementing with both coconut water and regular water in order to see the differences in re-hydration, performance, and a host of other aspects.
Performance, heart rate, rate of perceived exertion, rate of thirst and even sweat rate saw no significant differences.
In fact, the only thing which was noted was it’s sweetness.
In coconut water, we simply have an alternate method of hydration that’ll do pretty much the same job as regular water.
It’s not superior. You just might prefer it’s taste.
- 500mg Acetyl L-Carnitine
Acetyl l-carnitine (otherwise known as ALCAR) first rose to prominence during the 1980’s.
It was originally believed to have fat burning properties, although this has never been supported by any scientific data.
Nowadays, it’s often included in pre workout supplements due to it’s cognitive boosting abilities. (24)
However, despite Roar Ambition’s boast of providing you with a “generous” 500mg serving, it’s quite easy to find other products which offer more for your money, and you should be looking to consume between 630-2500mg per day for maximum effect.
So we have another massively under-dosed ingredient on our hands here.
4 Gauge Review – The Final Verdict
Well, three strikes and you’re out.
4 Gauge looks very pretty and a lot of work has clearly been put into the design and marketing of the product.
I have little doubt it’ll make it’s way into many mainstream gyms because of this.
There is no proprietary blend (wonderful!) and there are a couple of very nice inclusions in the formula, such as a full clinical dose of citrulline malate, and the innovative inclusion of rhodiola rosea.
But the under-dosed servings of caffeine, creatine monohydrate, beetroot extract, and acetyl l-carnitine make little sense given that the company lead their sales page with a bold statement on the product being fully dosed.
Roar Ambition do state on their sales pages that they intend to update the 4 Gauge formula as time passes, in order to “keep it ahead of the competition.”
That’s a nice idea, but they already have work to do.
As you can see below, it received an underwhelming 2 stars.
- Pérez-Guisado J., et al. Citrulline malate enhances athletic anaerobic performance and relieves muscle soreness. J Strength Cond Res. 2010.
- Alvares T. S., et al. Acute l-arginine supplementation increases muscle blood volume but not strength performance. Appl Physiol Nutr Metab. 2012.
- Schwedhelm, E., et al. Pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic properties of oral L-citrulline and L-arginine: impact on nitric oxide metabolism. British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology. 2008.
- Duncan M. J., et al. The effect of caffeine ingestion on mood state and bench press performance to failure. J Strength Cond Res. 2011.
- Childs E., et al. Subjective, behavioral, and physiological effects of acute caffeine in light, nondependent caffeine users. Psychopharmacology (Berl). 2006.
- Kim T. W., et al. Caffeine increases sweating sensitivity via changes in sudomotor activity during physical loading. J Med Food. 2011.
- Cook C., et al. Acute caffeine ingestion increases voluntarily chosen resistance training load following limited sleep. Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab. 2012.
- Del Coso J., et al. Dose response effects of a caffeine-containing energy drink on muscle performance: a repeated measures design. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2012.
- Mora-Rodríguez R., et al. Caffeine ingestion reverses the circadian rhythm effects on neuromuscular performance in highly resistance-trained men. PLoS One. 2012.
- McCormack, W. P., et al. Caffeine, Energy Drinks, and Strength-Power Performance. Str Con J. 2012.
- Haskell CF, et al The effects of L-theanine, caffeine and their combination on cognition and mood. Biol Psychol. 2008.
- Rawson, E.S., et al. Effects of creatine supplementation and resistance training on muscle strength and weightlifting performance. J Strength Cond Res. 2003.
- Pearson D. R., et al. Long-Term Effects of Creatine Monohydrate on Strength and Power. J Str Cond Res. 1999.
- Edwards, D., et al. Therapeutic Effects and Safety of Rhodiola rosea Extract WS® 1375 in Subjects with Life-stress Symptoms – Results of an Open-label Study. Phytotherapy Research. 2012.
- Wiegant FA, et al. Plant adaptogens increase lifespan and stress resistance in C. elegans. Biogerontology. 2009.
- Spasov, A., et al. A double-blind, placebo-controlled pilot study of the stimulating and adaptogenic effect of Rhodiola rosea SHR-5 extract on the fatigue of students caused by stress during an examination period with a repeated low-dose regimen. Phytomedicine. 2012.
- Habowski, S. M., et al. The effects of TeacrineTM, a nature-identical purine alkaloid, on subjective measures of cognitive function, psychometric and hemodynamic indices in healthy humans: a randomized, double-blinded crossover pilot trial. J Int Soc Sports Nut. 2014.
- Saat, M., et al. Rehydration after Exercise with Fresh Young Coconut Water, Carbohydrate-Electrolyte Beverage and Plain Water. Journal of Physiological Anthrapology and Applied Human Science. 2002.
- Ismail, I., et al. Rehydration with sodium-enriched coconut water after exercise-induced dehydration. Southeast Asian J Trop Med Public Health. 2007.
- Perez-Idarraga, A., et al. Postexercise rehydration: potassium-rich drinks versus water and a sports drink. Appl Physiol Nutr Metab. 2014..
- Saat, M., et al. Rehydration after exercise with fresh young coconut water, carbohydrate-electrolyte beverage and plain water. J Physiol Anthropol Appl Human Sci. 2002.
- Kalman, D. S., et al. Comparison of coconut water and a carbohydrate-electrolyte sport drink on measures of hydration and physical performance in exercise-trained men. J Int Soc Sp Nut. 2012.
- Peart, D. J., et al. Coconut Water Does Not Improve Markers of Hydration During Sub-maximal Exercise and Performance in a Subsequent Time Trial Compared with Water Alone. Human Kinetics Journals. 2017.
- Vermeulen, R. C., et al. Exploratory open label, randomized study of acetyl- and propionylcarnitine in chronic fatigue syndrome. Psychosom Med. 2004.