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Welcome to our 4 Gauge review!
If it’s been a while since you’ve checked in on the pre-workout market because the last product you tried made you feel like an itchy loon, we get it.
But perhaps 4 Gauge can tempt you to return to the pre-workout world with the promise of a well-balanced formulation that solves the jitters, itching, and crashing problems.
We admit to being a little skeptical ourselves when approaching 4 Gauge Chief Fitness Officer Connor Southworth at Expo East 2022, especially when he began brandishing the shotgun-shell-themed container of product, but as it turns out, 4 Gauge makes good on their promises.
Indeed, they’ve dialed back the caffeine and sucked out the sucralose while integrating a scientifically supported selection of key amino acids, and wouldn’t you know, it doesn’t taste terrible at all.
We give 4 Gauge an overall grade of A- for their premium pre-workout drinks, and would recommend them to anyone looking for the pump without all the problems.
Pros and Cons
- Ingredient quality surpasses most competitors
- Balanced formulation resolves crash, jitters
- Testers noticed improvements in exercise tolerance (strength training)
- Premium price
- Limited support department
Raising the Bar(bell): 4 Gauge’s Origin Story
Originally founded in the UK, 4 Gauge was acquired by Connor Southworth in mid-2021.
As he explained to our team, he had been in the supplement industry for several years beforehand, building an herbal supplement brand—Khroma Herbal Products—with his wife, Renae.
It was during this first major foray into the supplement industry that Connor realized those ubiquitous claims of health brands relating to their ethical and high-quality sourcing actually meant something substantive.
“Everywhere you go, people are like, ‘We source our stuff carefully.’ What does that even mean?”
Connor Southworth, Owner of 4 Gauge
“Everywhere you go, people are like, ‘We source our stuff carefully.’ What does that even mean?” he asked us as he channeled every over-marketed-to customer with perfect accuracy.
“Now that we’re on this side of it, it’s kind of interesting to see what that means. It really does mean something,” he explained.
Connor used to mix his pre-workouts himself using raw powders he would order because the pre-workout products available at the time were so underwhelming, but after a few tweaks to the 4 Gauge formulation, he has created a much cleaner option.
Among the other major changes he made include bringing the manufacturing in-house (to his Ogden, UT facility) and acquiring a team of “really talented people that like what they’re doing.”
Before long, 4 Gauge was road ready once more, and they have since set out to eclipse their nutritionally bankrupt competitors.
Our 4 Gauge Review
We use the following criteria when reviewing brands (4 Gauge scores included):
- Quality (A)
- Transparency (B+)
- Website Experience (A-)
- Customer Service (B+)
- Value (A-)
- Brand Value (A-)
4 Gauge earned an overall score of A-, thanks to their top-notch formulation, manufacturing, and sourcing standards.
As always, we’ll start with the vital issue of quality.
Stacked with clean and effective ingredients made under rigid standards, 4 Gauge makes a solid argument for an A in the quality department.
Anyone can make a pre-workout that tastes halfway decent and gives you a jolt, but as with all our brands, we need to take a look at sourcing and manufacturing quality, certifications, formulation quality, and more to get a complete picture.
Starting with ingredients, there’s no question that 4 Gauge is among the cleanest pre-workouts on the market, both in terms of what’s there—key amino acids and herbal exercise enhancers—and what isn’t—cheap sweeteners and problematic preservatives.
Here’s the full ingredient list for reference:
- L-Citrulline Dl-Malate
- Creatine Monohydrate
- Acetyl L-Carnitine (as Acetyl L-Carnitine HCl)
- Coconut Water Powder
- Caffeine Anhydrous
- Rhodiola Rosea (Root) Powder
- Other ingredients: Dextrose, Natural Flavors, Stevia, Silica, Citric Acid
The formulation rationale speaks to a much savvier understanding of basic exercise physiology that competitors seem not to be implementing.
On an individual level, the ingredient sourcing is top-notch; the citrulline is fermented, for example, for improved absorption into the bloodstream and digestibility.
Another example of a clear understanding of formulation know-how at work in 4 Gauge is their handling of the caffeine conundrum.
A heavy shot of caffeine may be an excellent way to perk up before an intense lifting “sesh” (brah), but the vasoconstriction action will hamper the ability of your blood vessels to deliver oxygen-rich blood to the tissues that need it to perform and recover.
Hence, 4 Gauge dials the caffeine back a bit while making sure to incorporate natural vasodilators like L-Citrulline-DL-Malate.
Still, 150mg (of caffeine) is enough for a physical and mental jolt, which is why the addition of L-theanine was a wise choice, turning what would be restlessness into a sustained burst of focused energy.
It also bodes well for product quality that 4 Gauge owns the manufacturing end of their business, and their manufacturing facility/operations are GMP (Good Manufacturing Practices) certified, FDA-registered, and USDA organic certified.
Per Connor, 4 Gauge carefully vets every supplier, and third-party tests their ingredients for purity, and opts for the most absorbable/potent forms of each particular ingredient.
Covering all of their bases convincingly—ingredient quality, manufacturing, formulation savvy and more—4 Gauge earns an A from our team for overall quality.
Product details are rife throughout the 4 Gauge site copy, but some holes could still use filling on the company info side.
The easier a brand makes it for their potential customers to access product information, insights on the company/staff, manufacturing standards and more, the more trustworthy we (and most shoppers) consider that brand to be.
4 Gauge is certainly not lacking on the product info side, considering the site is a long-form testimony to the one product they currently offer, including ample descriptions of the ingredients, the scientific rationale behind them, reviews, and much more.
However, information on the people behind the company—namely, Connor Southworth—is much more sparse.
Site visitors can at least see Connor and hear from him personally in this 4 Gauge explainer video embedded in the site, but he doesn’t reveal much information about his own story, other team members, etc.
The 30-day return policy is clearly delineated on the site, and can be accessed by a link located in the footer.
As for the level of transparency he maintained in our interview, Connor was very forthcoming about his history with 4 Gauge, manufacturing and sourcing operations, certifications, and everything else we asked him about.
All the above considered, 4 Gauge does exceedingly well in some areas of transparency while leaving others largely unattended, earning a B+ for the category.
4 Gauge makes it very easy to access information about (and purchase) their product on the site, and the blog provides a decent knowledge base.
So long as the site design isn’t extremely distracting, our team places more emphasis on functionality, e.g., how easy it is to learn about the product/company and shop on the website.
Since the homepage of the 4 Gauge site is essentially a promo in itself, you don’t have to click on any links to find the product in the shop—just scroll down to find one of several orange order now buttons that pop against a dark background.
Once you’ve selected your product (you can choose between several bundles or an individual order), the checkout process is simple, intuitive, and free of cluttering pop-ups or splash pages.
The browsing and shopping experience is equally fluid on the mobile version of the site, where we found no major formatting issues (misaligned buttons, image sizing problems, etc).
Finally, while the 4 Gauge blog is in need of refreshing, the posts are substantive and relevant to the target audience.
Overall, 4 Gauge provides an efficient and fairly educational website experience with very little runaround, earning an A- for the category.
4 Gauge maintains fairly reasonable policies (shipping, return, etc.) and a limited, but responsive support department.
Availability and responsiveness of the reviewed brand’s support services are top of mind in this ranking category, and we also assess shipping and return policies, guarantees, and any other customer-facing policies that can affect your interaction with the brand or the products.
4 Gauge keeps it lean on the support side, offering an email support service and a non-live messenger that uses clickable prompts to funnel you to the email service.
We opted to bypass the prompts and simply send a question directly to the email support address, receiving a personalized and helpful response in less than a day’s time.
Numerous shipping options are available, including USPS priority and FedEx two-day shipping, all of which stay within a 4-business-day delivery window if you’re ordering from the US and Canada, which is a bit speedier than what we normally encounter. Also, free shipping is available on all orders over $60, which encompasses all but the single-round order.
The refund policy allows for a 30-day window, so long as the product is unopened, but 4 Gauge also provides a 100% satisfaction guarantee that gives you 30 days to receive a full refund even if you’ve tried the product (and are unsatisfied).
Balancing these policies, the positive experience we had with 4 Gauge support, and the availability of services, we arrived at a B+ for customer service.
Every advantage 4 Gauge holds over their competitors is represented in the price tag, but not in an exploitative manner.
One 30-serving container, or “round” of 4 Gauge Pre-Workout costs $45, reducing to exactly $1.50 a serving.
After sifting through the dizzying ubiquity of underperforming competitors, we found it most convenient for value comparison purposes to separate them into two-tiers based on nutritional quality: bad and really bad (it really is rough out there).
The bad category covers a price range of about $0.65-$1.10 per serving, and the really bad category overlaps significantly, covering a range of roughly $0.50-$0.90 per serving.
The higher tier of competing pre-workouts often had up to three key amino acids, but scarcely any vasodilators, and the sucralose, artificial flavors, preservatives, and excessive caffeine were consistent issues.
The lower tier ingredient lists, while costing as low as one third of 4 Gauge in some cases, were loaded with multiple artificial flavors/sweeteners and artificial food coloring.
There’s no question that 4 Gauge stands virtually alone in its tier of ingredient quality, and though we can tell they pumped the brakes on the premium price to a degree, they did stray a bit farther than we would have liked above the $1.20/serving threshold. Of course, opting for a bundle brings things down a bit, so that helps.
The casual shopper may be a bit put off, but if you appreciate the value of a squeaky clean ingredient list in the nutritional desert that is the pre-workout market, 4 Gauge will likely still feel worth the price—we award them an A- for value.
Once again, the ingredient list delivers, this time as proof of an innovative and disruptive pre-workout product. 4 Gauge also reinforce their brand’s positive impact with philanthropy.
Measuring the total impact of any given brand on its industry (and any other communities) requires a broader approach, so we make sure to factor in the following elements at a minimum:
- Industry Disruption
- Institutional Knowledge
The case for innovation is strong with 4 Gauge, which stands a head or more over the rest of the field with research-supported amino acids for vasodilation and recovery, L-theanine to balance out the jitters, and no sucralose.
Consequently, 4 Gauge carries a strong potential to disrupt the pre-workout industry, though they still have some growing to do before that can take place on a larger scale.
A supplement industry veteran himself—shoutout to Khroma Herbal Products (founded by Connor and his wife, Renae)—Connor also consulted with bodybuilders and nutrition experts to deepen the reservoir of institutional knowledge with which he could create the ultimate pre-workout drink formulation.
Through Khroma, Connor, Renae, and their teams have supported several philanthropic causes, including building a medical clinic for a small community in Mexico, funding a feminine hygiene product initiative in India, and several local-level efforts.
Overall, 4 Gauge and the people behind it have proven themselves a disruptive, knowledge-driven, and altruistic group, earning a brand value score of A- from our team.
Wise to the game—it’s peak package-thief season—our testers wasted no time snatching our 4 Gauge deliveries mere moments after they hit the front stoop.
Once opened, the unassuming packaging gave way to a more striking visual—that shotgun shell bottle filled with a different kind of “explosive” powder.
The threaded lid is themed after the brass base of the shell (plastic in this case), and the rest of the bottle is that familiar red color.
The enclosed scoop was easy to use, and the product dissolved very well in water—no clumps whatsoever.
The Pina Colada flavor, while accurate, is more sour than what you might expect.
Connor openly disclaims in our interview that pre-workout ingredients are naturally sour, so this wasn’t too surprising, and the Pina Colada flavor at least does a decent job of balancing it out with some sweetness.
As for the effects, we noticed a definitive increase in energy, allowing for longer and more intense workouts.
Specifically, some of our testers were able to perform more pushups than usual in a single set.
Our non-coffee-drinker noticed a bit more of a “tingle” than the rest, but still without intense restlessness or that itchy, anxious feeling that most pre-workouts cause.
We were pleasantly surprised by the complete lack of a crash; we noticed no irritation or fatigue in the hours after taking a full serving.
Overall, our experience with 4 Gauge left us with the impression that we could actually take this product regularly without having to feel artificially jolted awake and then semi-sedated after the effect wears off.
The taste is fine for fans of the sweet-and-sour flavor combo, and the bottle makes for a great conversation piece when you have company over.
4 Gauge FAQ
Is 4 Gauge the best pre-workout?
While we won’t claim to have reviewed every product on the market, 4 Gauge is certainly the best we’ve tried to date, thanks to its clean and effective ingredients.
Does 4 Gauge have creatine?
Yes, each serving of 4 Gauge contains 1000mg (one gram) of creatine monohydrate.
How many servings are in 4 Gauge?
Each bottle of 4 Gauge powder contains 30 servings.
How do you take 4 Gauge pre-workout?
The usage directions on the bottle recommend mixing one level scoop of 4 Gauge powder with 10-12 ounces of water, but up to 1.5 scoops is an option for those who have established their tolerance level and want a greater effect.
Quality is clearly the starkest differentiator between 4 Gauge and just about everyone else on the pre-workout market—this is where they really shine.
The formulation reflects a sound understanding of exercise physiology, especially when it comes to vasodilation and recovery nutrients.
It’s easy to learn about and shop the product on the 4 Gauge website, but it could use a bit of beefing up in the leadership bio department and customer support, to name two key areas.
You’re definitely going to pay more for 4 Gauge than the majority of their competitors, but considering the dearth of nutritionally conscious options out there, we see most of the price difference as justified by quality.
Finally, the product is fun and easy to use, sweet-and-sour to the taste, and effective at amping up your workouts without the blowback.
4 Gauge earns an overall grade of A-. We recommend 4 Gauge to anyone looking for a regret-free, clean pre-workout product.