In its red shotgun shell casing, 4 Gauge truly looks like the ultimate pre workout.
And it knows precisely who its target market is, too.
With marketing slogans like, “Load Up Your Guns!”, it conjures up images of workouts no less intense than when Rambo defeated the entire Russian army back in 1985.
The hype is so glorious, perhaps 4 Gauge could even double-up as a testosterone booster?!
But once we crack open the tub, does this pre workout leave you firing blanks?
Or will it blow your f**king face off?
(See what I did there?! Okay, I’ll stop.)
This product has made its name thanks to a killer social media advertising campaign, and is now among the fastest-selling pre workouts in the UK. But today, the new product from Roar Ambition (yes, they really spell it that way) faces its toughest challenge to date:
My deliberately harsh supplement rating system…
No supplement has ever received a golden 5 star review.
How does it compare to world class pre workouts? Can it hold is own against the best of the best of the best?
During my official Roar Ambition 4 Gauge review below, I’ll take you through a comprehensive guide to all the pros and cons – and show you the stuff you won’t see in any of the adverts and fake reviews you’ll find online!
4 Gauge Pre Workout Review – The Good
As always, we start by rounding up the best features of the product.
After the commercial success of Grenade (who became the undisputed kings of supplement packaging with their overly macho, military themed gimmick a few years ago), we’ve seen numerous other brands try to go down the same road.
Not all of them have worked out.
However, RedCon1 have done a pretty good job of it. Their Total War pre workout remains one of the industry’s top-sellers.
4 Gauge heads down the same route, and this is a good thing. The product looks absolutely great.
We get 6g citrulline malate (that’s a full clinical dose), which will provide some great pumps and increased training endurance, and the interesting inclusion of rhodiola rosea…
This feel-good herb will improve your mood, and delay the onset of fatigue.
The product also has no proprietary blend, which is always nice.
At around £20 for a 20 serving tub, 4 Gauge is competitively priced and it would be very easy to spend more cash on products which don’t deliver as much bang for your buck (sorry, couldn’t resist it).
4 Gauge Pre Workout Review – The Bad
The honeymoon is over.
If you always check with my supplement reviews, you’ve likely skipped straight to this section. People seem to enjoy me picking apart products which claim to be excellent.
And there’s no shortage of material here…
The rather impressive hype page which Roar Ambition use to sell 4 Gauge makes an incredible number of bold claims, the first of which is (and I s**t you not):
“4 Gauge is the most researched and developed pre workout on the market…”
Followed quickly by:
“… the safest and strongest pre workout on the market!”
As you can probably tell, modesty is not among the ingredients.
Neither is truth…
So allow me to call bulls**t on those claims right here.
First, that dose of rhodiola rosea could be higher. If we want to make the most of this ingredient during training, it’s easy to find other pre workouts which go as high as 150mg (like Reclaim by Outbreak Nutrition), as opposed to the 100mg on offer in 4 Gauge.
Creatine is here, but only a measly 1 gram.
This has most certainly been thrown into the product just so the manufacturers can claim it’ll increase strength output, but it won’t at that dose.
Plus, they try to put a positive spin on it by saying it “doubles the level of creatine your body produces naturally” – but fail to mention that it’s still nowhere near the clinical dose required to see any training benefits (5 grams).
For a product which shouts so loudly about being clinically dosed, we’ve already hit a huge red flag.
But there’s more…
Beta-alanine is not included in the product, which is downright bizarre given its obvious benefits to weight training.
The company website then gives some silly advice on how customers can take double servings to increase the effectiveness of 4 Gauge. Not only does this seriously negate the pricing benefits I mentioned earlier, but it also increases your citrulline malate dose to a whopping 12 grams, which is totally unnecessary as max training benefits top out at 6-8 grams.
If you’ve adapted to 4 Gauge and it no longer provides you with a “kick”, it’s because it doesn’t contain a lot of caffeine.
At 150mg, there are far more potent formulas available for caffeine lovers.
In fact, this is lower than the dose we’d need to reap any of caffeine’s training benefits at all. More on that later.
Well, this one isn’t off to a good start, is it?!
4 Gauge Pre Workout Review – Ingredient Breakdown
Let’s go deeper by looking at each of the key ingredients in 4 Gauge.
I hope you find this section very helpful, because when I was researching the product for this review, I stumbled across a plethora of uneducated, bland as f**k “5 star reviews” which resembled poorly constructed sales pitches.
They didn’t really touch upon any science, or indicate what you should be looking for in a good pre workout, so I’ll do that now.
We will begin with the power player…
6G CITRULLINE MALATE
I’ve said it many times. Citrulline malate is the most important ingredient in a pre workout!
If you can get 6-8 grams, you’re golden.
Thankfully, 4 Gauge goes all-out and hits that full clinical dose.
But why is citrulline so important?
Well, if you previously read my blog here, you’ll know that supplementing with CitMal has been shown to increase a number of important training markers; recovery between sets, number of reps performed to failure, muscular pump. (1, 2)
A 2010 study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research demonstrated that citrulline improved training output by an average of one more rep on every set.
Thinking long-term here, those kind of improvements really do add up to some serious gains.
This is achieved by improving nutrient delivery and blood flow to working muscles, much like arginine was used in the early 2000’s.
Many pre workout formulas continue to use arginine for this, but it’s worth knowing that arginine has a very poor absorption rate and is almost entirely destroyed by the liver and kidneys before reaching the muscle cells.
Citrulline has a 50% higher absorption rate than arginine. (3)
Another interesting thing here is that citrulline is broken down into arginine once inside the body, making it a better way to get the benefits of arginine, than arginine itself!
(Sorry, couldn’t resist geeking out on you there.)
The second big hitter inside the red shells of 4 Gauge is good old caffeine.
But this time the news isn’t so great.
Caffeine has been shown to improve several aspects of training, including mental focus, energy, and total calorie burn (although the last one diminishes over time). (4, 5, 6)
And what most people don’t know is that caffeine also has a series of strength training benefits when applied to weight training. (7, 8, 9)
So why is this bad news?
Well, the strength benefits are only unlocked with a dose of 400mg (the dose you’ll find in AML Pre Workout). With 4 Gauge coming in at just 150mg, those benefits remain untapped.
Also, during the 2012 meta-analysis which confirmed that 400mg dose, there was another rather interesting finding; we need at least 2.1mg per kg of body weight to see any training benefits at all! (10)
That means a guy of 175lbs would need at least 168mg caffeine to unlock any benefits, and this renders the 150mg dose in 4 Gauge completely ineffective.
One of the lesser-known ingredients in 4 Gauge, l-theanine combats the “caffeine crash” usually experienced with pre workouts.
In theory, this should allow you to experience a longer lasting energy burst from your caffeine. (11)
And while a dose of 200mg l-theanine is potent enough, so much of this ingredients success hinges on the combination with caffeine, which is under-dosed.
I’d personally have preferred Roar Ambition to include a more ambitious ingredient in place of both caffeine and l-theanine. Something like teacrine, for instance, which has been shown to yield similar effects without adaptation. (17)
1G CREATINE MONOHYDRATE
You don’t become the #1 selling bodybuilding supplement of all time without being great.
And creatine monohydrate is precisely that.
It’s a sure-fire way to increase muscle size and strength, and when a great 2012 meta-analysis published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research looked at the huge 30 years of clinical research behind creatine supplementation, they confirmed an average strength increase of 8%, and an improvement in reps to failure of 14%! (12)
With so many studies, and such a long timeframe, those are hugely impressive numbers.
The problem is we don’t get enough in 4 Gauge.
A clinical dose is 5 grams. (13)
And yes, it’s cheap enough to purchase on its own, but if you’re going to include it in the product then at least do it correctly!
Beetroot has long been used as a nitric oxide booster.
However, beta-vulgaris is an ineffective substitute.
As reported by Kaged Muscle, many supplement companies like to throw this ingredient into the formula purely so they can make claims about “better muscle pumps” on the packaging.
But in order to draw the full nitric oxide benefits here we’d need at least 450mg nitrates from beetroot.
Looking at the 300mg beta-vulgaris, it already looks under-dosed, right?
It gets worse…
Notice how I said 450mg nitrates? Not 450mg beta-vulgaris?
Beta-vulgaris typically yields around 1% nitrate conversion, so at 300mg we are looking at about 3mg (miles away!).
In fact, you’d need to consume a whopping 20 grams of beetroot extract to pull enough nitrates for the benefits they brag about on the damn label!
That would dwarf the serving size of all other ingredients in 4 Gauge combined.
Beta-vulgaris has a couple of other benefits, but if a company want to shout about the muscle pump benefits (which is the only thing Roar Ambition do when discussing their reasons for including this ingredient), then it has to be sufficiently dosed – otherwise it’s seen as another big red flag.
100MG RHODIOLA ROSEA
This really is a good addition to 4 Gauge.
In fact, it might just be its saving grace.
A feel-good herb, continued supplementation of rhodiola rosea has been shown to reduce aspects of fatigue, greatly increase mood, and has even been linked with greater longevity. (14, 15, 16)
And 100mg is enough to see some of those benefits.
But you can easily find pre workouts which go higher, so this is a bit of a missed opportunity.
300MG COCONUT WATER
Coconut water is all the rage at the moment.
From your favorite TV presenter, to the parents at your kids school who arrive wearing sandals, it seems everyone is telling everyone that coconut water is awesome.
Roar Ambition say it’s “nature’s own electrolyte packed sports tonic!”, citing a study which shows that consuming coconut water has similar effects to a sports drink. (18)
But this is blatant cherry picking.
Because several studies exist which show that coconut water does not improve performance versus sports drinks. (19, 20, 21, 22)
When presented with that research, supplement companies like to get around the fact by stating that no trials have yet looked at consumption during exercise, and that’s what they really meant (“promise!”) when they made those big claims about how awesome it was for training.
And now they can’t.
Because a 2017 study published in Human Kinetics Journals concluded it had no improvements in re-hydration nor exercise performance. (23)
So in coconut water we simply have an alternative that’ll do pretty much the same job as water. You may just prefer the taste. That’s it.
500MG ACETYL L-CARNITINE
This ingredient first rose to prominence in the 1980’s.
It was originally believed to have fat burning properties, but this was never supported by science.
Nowadays, ALCAR is added to pre workouts for its cognitive benefits. (24)
Of course, the dose is key.
Despite Roar Ambition boasting of providing you “a generous serving of 500mg”, it’s really quite easy to find other products which go a lot higher. In terms of results, we’d need between 630mg-2500mg per day, so we have another massively under-dosed ingredient.
4 Gauge Pre Workout Review – The Final Verdict
Well, three strikes and you’re out.
Are you p**sed off that 4 Gauge looked amazing but failed to deliver?
I genuinely was.
I have no doubt this product will do well off the back of its packaging alone, and it does have a couple of nice features to the formula, but it’s nowhere near the beast it claims to be.
The under-dosed servings of caffeine, creatine, beta-vulgaris, and acetyl l-carnitine make little sense given that Roar Ambition lead their own sales page with a big claim of being fully dosed and superior to all other pre workouts…
Interestingly, they do indicate on their website that they plan to continually update the 4 Gauge formula as time goes by (“to keep it ahead of the competiton”).
That’s a nice idea, but they already have work to do.
As you can see below, it earned an underwhelming 2 stars.
If you’d like to try it, you can order it here (or just click it so you can play with the superb shotgun effect they have on the page).
- 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 F. A., 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.