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Caffeine Before Workouts: Is It Any Good? (Explained)

Updated: Aug 15, 2023

Evidence-Based. Scientifically Reviewed by Michael Sharpe, MSc.


Caffeine is one of the most extensively researched substances available. There is a mountain of evidence showing it's safe and effective, assuming it's used at the correct dosages.


Caffeine use has even been shown to provide health advantages.


However, you're likely wondering if it's good to take caffeine before a workout.


Taking caffeine before a workout can improve performance by enhancing energy and endurance, increasing strength, and reduce perceived exertion and muscle soreness.


In this article, I'll discuss the benefits of taking caffeine before a workout.


cup with coffee beans falling into it

Enhances Energy

Caffeine acts as a central nervous system (CNS) stimulant, therefore improving mental energy and alertness. Caffeine causes the release of adrenaline and dopamine by activating and blocking specific receptors in the brain. (4)


Due to the increase in adrenaline, along with increased fat burning, when you ingest caffeine before a workout, it gives you a rush of energy and alertness. (3)



Increases Strength

Studies suggests that a single dose of caffeine may boost muscular strength if the dosage is high enough. Around 300 mg (3 cups of coffee) may improve strength. (5)


Caffeine can stimulate the neurons that activate muscle fibres. This action may boost your strength during a workout since greater muscular power equals more strength.


Boosts Endurance

Caffeine boosts endurance in a variety of ways. The first is to increase fat burning, you burn more fat when you exercise with the intake of caffeine.


This conserves muscle glycogen, giving you extra energy when you need it. (1, 2, 3)


It may also increase endurance by increasing nitric oxide levels. Caffeine has been shown to increase vasodilation (the widening of blood vessels).


This vasodilation allows more blood to circulate within the muscles, resulting in increased oxygen and nutrient delivery and overall endurance.


Reduces Perceived Exertion

Caffeine can reduce your perceived exertion, causing you to workout harder and for longer. This action of caffeine can result in enhanced workouts. (6)


Reduces Muscle Soreness

Consumption of caffeine can reduce or even eliminate muscle soreness. (7)


You can go harder with less muscle discomfort, maybe getting a few additional repetitions you wouldn't have done if the muscle ache was too high.


More repetitions in a workout will increase total load, improving long term muscle growth.



References

This section contains links to research, studies, and sources of information for this article, as well as authors, contributors, etc. All sources, along with the article and facts, are subjected to a series of quality, reliability, and relevance checks.

Real Muscle primarily uses high-quality sources, such as peer-reviewed publications, to back up the information in our articles. To understand more about how we fact-check and keep our information accurate, dependable, and trustworthy, read more about us.

This evidence based analysis on taking caffeine before a workout features 3 reference, listed below.


1. Talanian JL, Spriet LL. Low and moderate doses of caffeine late in exercise improve performance in trained cyclists. Appl Physiol Nutr Metab. (2016, Aug) (Randomised Controlled Trial) ✔

2. Southward K, Rutherfurd-Markwick KJ, Ali A. The Effect of Acute Caffeine Ingestion on Endurance Performance: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Sports Med. (2018, Aug) (Review)

3. Collado-Mateo D, Lavín-Pérez AM, Merellano-Navarro E, Coso JD. Effect of Acute Caffeine Intake on the Fat Oxidation Rate during Exercise: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Nutrients. (2020, Nov 24) (Meta-Analysis)

4. McLellan TM, Caldwell JA, Lieberman HR. A review of caffeine's effects on cognitive, physical and occupational performance. Neurosci Biobehav Rev. (2016, Dec) (Review) ✔

5. Giráldez-Costas V, González-García J, Lara B, Coso JD, Wilk M, Salinero JJ. Caffeine Increases Muscle Performance During a Bench Press Training Session. J Hum Kinet. (2020, Aug 31)

6. Doherty, M & Smith, Paul. Effects of caffeine ingestion on rating of perceived exertion during and after exercise: A meta-analysis. Scandinavian journal of medicine & science in sports. (2005)

7. Hurley CF, Hatfield DL, Riebe DA. The effect of caffeine ingestion on delayed onset muscle soreness. J Strength Cond Res. (2013, Nov) (Randomised Controlled Trial)

Citations with a tick indicate the information is from a trusted source.

 

The information provided in this article is not intended to replace professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the guidance of a physician or other competent professional before following advice or taking any supplement. See our terms and conditions.



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