Coffee and Heavy Weights
The Facts: Can Caffeine Increase Strength, Power, & Athletic Performance?
Many people, be they nine-to-fivers’ or top tier athletes, utilise caffeine in their day to day schedules. Whether you opt for a standard espresso shot or like a pre-workout with ingredients that could power a lightsabre, many lifters can testify to the perceived increase in endurance and power when consuming the divine stimulant before a workout.
Be this as it may, some opt to avoid caffeine in the weight room all together. If you are new to training and are on the fence, or perhaps buy into all the old propaganda that coffee and caffeine are taboo and might ruin your colon, then here are a few facts about the use of caffeine when lifting weights.
We've all seen the fitness Youtubers with their fancy coffee machines in the background and in this day and age, its rare to see someone without a starbucks cup attached to their hand. Lots of athletes claim to drink no less than three cups a day, which some may find excessive. With that being said, surely theres a reason for this?
ENERGY AND POWER BOOST
You probably didn’t need to come to a fitness site to find this out, but as a stimulant caffeine increases awareness allowing for mental tasks to be completed with greater precision; this isn’t limited to the office though, studies have shown the same boost carries over to physical exertion: Namely, lifting heavy ass weights or running long distances.
One such study, conducted in 2008 from the International Journal of Sports Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism, pitted two groups of people against each other in chest press and leg press exercises. Group A was given caffeine and Group B a placebo, the results showed that group A could lift slightly more weight with increased intensity.
When the body’s metabolism is boosted it can break down fat reserves more effectively for energy. Caffeine causes a process known as lipolysis in the body – the release of free fatty acids into the blood stream. This process is precursory to jump starting the body’s metabolism. Add in that caffeine can also increase endurance (Many cyclists and distance runners utilize it for this very reason) and it can be a handy tool for weight loss.
BUT, AND THERE IS A BUT
Caffeine is a stimulant, and like anything, can have side effects if not used in moderation. The most common is that, if over used, its effects will diminish as the body adapts to it. It can increase the heart rate, so anyone pregnant or with a heart condition should seek a doctor’s opinion first.
Sleeping patterns can also be disrupted by over use. People metabolize and digest things at different rates and caffeine is no exception. Even a trace amount in the system at bed time can lead to minor insomnia in some cases.
Any work out should not be attempted unless properly hydrated before and during, and coffee has been shown to have laxative effects in some people, leading to minor hydration issues – though the effects are marginal – so always make sure you have your trust water jug on hand when using the stuff.
Its also important to remember that every person's body is different, and reacts differently to what we put in it. One person's routine and diet can have a wide range of results depending on the individual. I'd also recommend checking with a doctor before making any serious changes to diet or workout routine, just to be on the safe side, especially where stimulants are concerned.
Hopefully you found this useful. If you’re considering utilizing caffeine for your next workout and haven’t used it before, make sure to start small and gauge tolerance. Caffeine comes in lots of shapes and sizes: Coffee and tea being the most common, however some companies produce fantastic pre-workout supplements or energy drinks that are great too. Just make sure you dont over do it!