Research Review Shorts: Does Caffeine Make You Stronger?
Caffeine consumption prior to a workout has been shown to decrease perceptions of fatigue. A recent study sought out to find if pre-workout caffeine consumption also has positive effects on strength.
There were two primary research questions:
- Would caffeine supplementation increase 1RM strength in the pull-down, hack squat, and bench press?
- Would caffeine supplementation increase knee extension reps to failure?
The subjects were eight young women, 20-30 years old, with 1-2 years of strength training experience.
The four measurements taken were 1RM strength in the pull-down, hack squat, and bench press, and reps to failure in the knee extension using a drop set.
- In the caffeinated group, hack squat strength, bench press strength and knee extension reps to failure were significantly greater than the placebo group
- There was no noticeable difference in pull down strength between groups
- Caffeine can boost your performance acutely in terms of both 1RM strength and reps to failure.
- The effect is much more pronounced for lower body exercises. Caffeine will probably give you more of a boost for a heavy squat workout than a heavy bench workout.
- You need to take a lot of caffeine to maximize the ergogenic effect. At least 3mg/kg is generally needed for any ergogenic effects, and 6mg/kg – the dosage in this study – generally seems to be the sweet spot.
- If you’re naïve to caffeine, start with a lower dose to see how you tolerate it. If you’ve already built up a tolerance, you’ll probably need to stop using caffeine except for the period around your hardest workout or two each week if you want to reap the performance-boosting effects of caffeine.