Caffeine & Performance

In this article we are going to discuss caffeine and how it affects performance in training. This article is not suggestive in any way, but simply a look into what the research says and what my thoughts are. Please talk to your Doctor if you have any questions about caffeine or the use of caffeine as an ergogenic (performance enhancing) aid.

Caffeine and Performance

The use of caffeine is popular amongst most Americans and most people in the world. We consume it in drinks, foods, gum, supplements, etc.

It is also a popular ingredient in most pre-workout supplements that many of us consume prior to training.

With that being said, I wanted to give an insight as to what the research says and what my thoughts are about what the research says when it comes to using caffeine to enhance performance.

I’m going to link each of the studies that I will be talking about throughout this article.

When it comes to caffeine, most sources say that the average American consumes around 165mg of caffeine per day. That’s roughly 1.5-2 cups of coffee. Most of the research studies use a measurement of mg/kg of body weight (milligrams per kilogram of body weight) to determine their dose for each participant. So for a 75kg person, if we took the average caffeine consumption and put it into mg/kg of body weight, that’s about 2.2mg/kg of body weight.

These research studies suggest that (depending on the study) the necessary dose of caffeine for performance enhancement is 5-9 mg/kg of body weight. For a 75kg person, that’s 375-675mg of caffeine…

That’s pretty crazy, right?

That’s double to QUADRUPLE the amount of caffeine consumed by the average american.

For me, that’s a lot of caffeine to consume. When I consume 300mg of caffeine (pretty high on average for myself), I’m very jittery and a little hyper. I couldn’t even imagine consuming 588-882 mg of caffeine and not having a panic attack and feeling like I am gonna have heart failure.

However, in this particular study, the dosage used was 9 mg/kg of body weight.

The results indicated that after caffeine was consumed 1 hour before exercise, endurance was increased. It also indicates a few other findings related to metabolic responses related to exercise and caffeine consumption. The main focus for this article was to dial in on the performance benefits of caffeine and not to bore you with the physiological stuff.

Here’s another study that looks at the effect of caffeine intake on resistance training.

The results were that caffeine actually only helped on LOWER body exercises, but not upper body. While there was no significant difference between the upper body exercises, there was a significant difference of total weight lifted in the caffeine users vs. the placebo. This particular study used a dosage of 6 mg/kg of body weight, which, like we discussed earlier, is a hefty dosage of caffeine.

There are many other studies that show similar results, but these are just a few that I thought were well put together and provided some good information. What I would take away from this, is that unless your dosage of caffeine is upwards of 6-9 mg/kg of body weight, there will probably not be a significant difference in the weight/volume you lift during a training session and it most likely won’t be statistically better than if you had not ingested caffeine.

BUT, what I will say is if it helps you wake up, stay focused and you THINK that it helps, then it is probably to your benefit to keep using it. My suggestion is to just be mindful about the amount that you are using and ingesting.

Like I said, when I consume 300mg of caffeine, I feel jittery and not super great. So for me, <300mg of caffeine is the ideal dosage to consume because anything more than that I would feel compromised which would lead to a less-than-ideal training session.

All in all, I’m a fan of caffeine and I think it can aid in certain parts of your training, just don’t get stuck on the idea that you NEED it to have a good workout.

Andrew Peterson