Caffeine use In Sports


Endurance sports :

Trained cyclics – Hodgson et al 2013:
5mg per kg, 60min pre event.
Powder vs instant coffee, placebo and decaf

Universally 6mg per kg of BW improved performance in cyclists,

Doses of 1.5mg have been negatively linked

Desbrow et al 2009 – trained cyclists at 3mg and 1.5mg/kg 1hr pre event from

Cox et al interesting research showed well trained cyclists and triathletes work equally well with a 6mg/kg 60min pre dose aswell as a 6x1mg/kg every 20mins during exercise for a 120min duration
And looked at coca cola in the final leg as caffeine source due to carbohydrate content for endurance atheltes as caffeine presence appears to improve carbohydrate beenfits

Have seen doses of 2.1mg improving 1hr cycling when consumed during race protocols,

Lower doses appear to work when carbohydrate is included

Middle distance running, skiing, rowing and perhaps swimming 100-400meters have seen benefit from caffeine dosing

Team sports generally no – however performance is measured in these studies is from muscle power output, running speed and so on, none of these decreased  and gps testing has shown pace increases in running furing games, but we should bare in mind the cognitive benefits of cafein that likely play into team sports improvement such as clarity and focus,

 but on the whole team sports research for caffeine and performance is very yes/no – but this could be down to “how do we test performance”

Strength and power sports

Golf has been shown to benefit from dosing.

1rm strength appears to reliably improve performance or mood and focs or both, which could be less of an immediate strength increase but alleviation of fatigue that would otherwise make a session worse.

For the most part the benefits on strength appear to be close to the first maximimal performance and for the higher doses of 5-6mg per kg

Low continues doses during long duration power/coordination and skill sports such as golf have shown to have benefits also.

Almost all data looks at 1rep max strength, which I think is fair to say increasing a true 1 rep max outside of a drug is unlikely, but what caffeine can do in training is benefit to increasing the quality and duration of the session, time to fatigue and focus at lower rep ranges – which contributes as we know to increased muscle mass, and ultimately over time strength / performance.

So don’t be disheartened when you hea “coffee doesn’t likely make you stronger” because there is more to being strong than 1 rep max lifts in the gym.

Strength is just one part in the overall fitness/performance pyramid.

Dosing of caffeine?
Further Reading:
AIS guidelines for pre exercise nutrition :

Most research has been done ranging from 3-5mg per kg of bodyweight

Endurance has shown improvements with 1.5g-2g and carbohydrate, especially when consumed throughout an even.

If consuming throughout an event it would seem sensible to spread the upper most limit across the even duration.

4 Nespresso Capsules : ~240mg Or 3mg per KG for 80kg individual

8 Nespresso Capsules: ~480mg Or 6mg per KG for 80kg individual
Almost all high-street brands fall short for the average person
Except for costa, which sits at the top with the Americano averaging 170mg of caffeine

With that all in mind – let’s look at a selection of the research on caffeine dosing, the intakes used and the sorts of results seen in these trials.

So, why no strength data?

as we’ve said before – It’s harder to measure strength gains, but we are well aware of the cognitive benefits, we should draw our own conclusions.