Caffeine is a favorite training partner for millions of lifters, because a daily cup of java improves exercise performance. But will too much coffee send you flying around the gym, and make your head spin like Linda Blair in “The Exorcist”? Not according to a new study published in The Journal of Applied Physiology. The study refutes previous advice from some scientists and coaches that in order to gain any performance boost from taking caffeine before a workout, you have to abstain from coffee for a few days or weeks.
Taken an hour before exercise, caffeine increases alertness, which can make exercise feel less strenuous and enables most athletes to perform better. Because there are concerns that caffeine users become habituated to its effects— and one cup in the morning turns to three cups by the end of the day— athletes have typically been advised to stop drinking coffee or anything containing caffeine for about a week before competition. But Bruno Gualano, a professor of physiology and nutrition at the University of São Paulo in Brazil, found that regardless of habitual caffeine intake in one’s diet, acute caffeine supplementation can improve performance.
In Gualano’s study, competitive male cyclists consumed 400 milligrams of caffeine (the same amount as AML Preworkout) one hour before a ride, which is equivalent to the amount of caffeine in four cups of coffee. The subjects also received a placebo before another ride. Almost all of the riders were able to pedal harder and faster after swallowing the caffeine pill— 3.3 percent faster on average compared to when they had no pill, and 2.2 percent faster than when they took a placebo. Cyclists who usually drank large amounts of coffee or caffeine drinks every day received the same boost from caffeine as light coffee drinkers. (Journal of Applied Physiology, May 2017)