Caffeine has long been used by endurance athletes to boost performance during competition. But it’s not just endurance athletes that can benefit. In fact, pre workout caffeine has become the weapon of choice for strength athletes, bodybuilders, MMA fighters and the like. Let’s take a closer look at what caffeine can do for you...
- Caffeine increases reps to failure.
Rather than directly affecting the muscles themselves, caffeine affects the central nervous system (CNS) that reduces the rate of perceived exertion, therefore allowing you to self select a higher work rate, so it’s easier to push through those final reps.
Researchers from Coventry University gave caffeine (5 milligrams per kilogram of bodyweight) to a group of moderately trained guys, and then asked them to perform a set of bench press reps to failure .
The men completed more repetitions to failure and lifted more weight after taking caffeine compared to the placebo. Mood state scores for vigor were also greater and fatigue scores lower after the guys were given caffeine
- Caffeine improves skill performance after sleep deprivation.
Researchers from the UK Sport Council got a group of elite rugby players to complete 10 trials of a simple rugby passing skill test . The players had between 7-9 hours sleep on 5 of these trials and between 3-5 hours sleep (deprivation) on the other 5.
Although sleep deprivation led to a significant drop in skill performance accuracy, a dose of caffeine taken 90 minutes before each tests was enough to wipe out these negative effects.
This won't come as a great surprise - it's common knowledge that caffeine gives you a physical and mental lift.
But what is interesting is that both the high (450 milligrams) and low (90 milligrams) doses had roughly the same effect.
That’s not to say the higher dose wouldn’t have worked better if the task was something more physical, but under these study conditions the lower dose worked just fine.
Why not just have a cup of coffee before you train?
Unfortunately it doesn't appear that coffee gives you the same pre workout performance boost as caffeine. In a study carried out at the University of Guelph, researchers attempted to distinguish between the effects of caffeine taken as a capsule or in the form of coffee . They found no differences in run time among the three trials in which coffee was ingested. The results were no different from the placebo trial. In sharp contrast, six of the nine subjects had their longest run after taking the caffeine capsules, increasing their run time to exhaustion by approximately 10 minutes. So if you want to benefit from the performance-enhancing benefits of caffeine, the results of this study suggest that you're better off using pure caffeine rather than drinking coffee.
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