Ingested daily by 90% of North Americans, caffeine is regarded as our nation’s most “widely enjoyed” psychoactive substance. It is is an ingredient in numerous over the counter medications and exists in coffee, tea, cola, chocolate, energy drinks, medications and many fitness supplements. In the past decade there has been an explosion in the number of scientific studies investigating the ergogenic potential of caffeine, which has exposed its numerous benefits ranging from increased focus and fat burning to increased strength and muscular gains.
Caffeine is most commonly plugged as a central nervous system stimulant, but it’s also highly involved in increasing fat mobilization from fat cells into the bloodstream. Caffeine’s stimulant properties have been shown to increase muscle strength and training intensity when taken preworkout. As well, studies have confirmed that preworkout caffeine supplementation reduces muscular soreness by greater than 50%. It has been shown that preworkout caffeine doses of 3mg/kg or more produce the greatest strength benefits.
A recent blinded and placebo controlled study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research adds to the support for caffeine as a safe and effective preworkout supplement. In this research, scientists from The University of Edinburg aimed to establish whether the effect of caffeine supplementation on maximal strength is different in upper versus lower body muscles. The subjects consisted of 16 resistance-trained men who took either caffeine (6 mg/kg) or a placebo 30 minutes prior to testing and then completed a number of upper and lower body strength measures. The authors reported that preworkout caffeine supplementation produced up to a ~9% increase in maximal upper body strength and ~14% increase in maximal lower body strength (measured as isokinetic peak torque)— which is pretty substantial considering the just took a pill!
To get all the workout benefits from caffeine supplementation, we suggest taking 200-400 mg of caffeine anhydrous, 30-60 minutes before training.