Many American’s drink a cup or two of coffee every morning just to get them awake and to function properly. On some days, you can definitely find me in this crowd, especially if I was up all night tossing and turning. Now I want to tell you about another use of caffeine and that is its role as an ergogenic aid.
Now you might be thinking, what in the world is an ergogenic aid? Many people that are not into sports and many that are into sports may never even of heard the term ergogenic aid before. An ergogenic aid is a substance that has been clinically proven to provide statically significant benefit to athletic performance. These benefits may come from enhanced speed, strength, power, reaction time, focus, etc.
To find out if something is an ergogenic aid, you preform a test with a control group (placebo group) and then you preform the same test with they same type of individuals (controlling for age, sex, weight, etc basically as many factor as you can to make sure the groups are as close as possible to limit anything that may skew the results) but the only thing that is different is that you give them the substance that which you are testing to see if it is an ergogenic aid.
Then the researchers will compare the two groups and see if there is any statically significance to taking the tested substance. So do you want to know how caffeine did as an ergogenic aid, now that you know what an ergogenic aid is?
Before we get to the result, we have to look at the types of caffeine. The two most common types of caffeine that are tested are coffee and anhydrous caffeine (the type of caffeine mostly common added to pre-workout formulas).
Results from the articleCaffeine and Sports Performance from the Applied Physiology, Nutrition and Metabolism Journal found that performance benefits can be seen with moderate amounts (~3 mg x kg body mass) of caffeine and that these benefits can be found in a wide variety of sports, including endurance events, stop-and-go events and sports involving sustained high-intensity activity lasting from 1-60 min (e.g., swimming, rowing, and middle and distance running races).
Results from the article Ergogenic Effects of Caffeine and Sodium Bicarbonate Supplementation on Intermittent Exercise Performance Preceded by Intense Arm Cranking Exercise by the International Society of Sports Nutrition found that caffeine improved intermittent exercise performance and lowered perceived exertion after intense arm cranking exercise.
Results from the article Effects of Coffee and Caffeine Anhydrous on Strength and Sprint Performance from the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition found that neither coffee nor caffeine anhydrous improved strength outcomes to a greater extent than the placebo group.
The International Society of Sports Nutrition stand on caffeine and performance are the following:
1. Caffeine is effective for enhancing sport performance in trained athletes when consumed in low-to-moderate dosages (~3-6 mg/kg) and overall does not result in further enhancement in performance when consumed in higher dosages (≥ 9 mg/kg).
2. Caffeine exerts a greater ergogenic effect when consumed in an anhydrous state as compared to coffee.
3. It has been shown that caffeine can enhance vigilance during bouts of extended exhaustive exercise, as well as periods of sustained sleep deprivation.
4. Caffeine is ergogenic for sustained maximal endurance exercise, and has been shown to be highly effective for time-trial performance.
5. Caffeine supplementation is beneficial for high-intensity exercise, including team sports such as soccer and rugby, both of which are categorized by intermittent activity within a period of prolonged duration.
6. The literature is equivocal when considering the effects of caffeine supplementation on strength-power performance, and additional research in this area is warranted.
7. The scientific literature does not support caffeine-induced diuresis during exercise, or any harmful change in fluid balance that would negatively affect performance.
If you’re looking for an easy and inexpensive way to increase your athletic performance, you might consider looking into coffee or caffeine anhydrous as a pre-workout. Most pre-packaged pre-workout do not tell you the amount of each ingredient that is in it, instead they use a proprietary blend so you are unsure of what you are really getting.
Please seek the medical advice from your doctor or physician before starting any workout, diet or nutritional supplement.