Caffeine and Bodybuilding

July 4th, 2007 by Paul Johnson

Caffeine is the world’s largest consumed “drug”. Many bodybuilders haven’t realized that caffeine is a powerful performance enhancer. It is even banned by the olympics!

Caffeine as a performance enhancer:

Caffeine has been proven through scientific studies to have the ability to reduce fatigue, increase strength, and endurance. This can all lead to a great workout. Not only that ,but you will be more motivated for your workouts with the energy provided from a good ole cup of coffee.

According to a study by Doherty and Smith 2004, some of the subjects did high intensity training, some did endurance, and another group did graded excercises. The overall average among the subjects showed a 12% increase in performance over placebo.

Caffeine and bodybuilding:

Due to the fact that caffeine improves endurance and strength, it would make a great pre-workout ingredient. Long term strength gains equate to long term muscle gains. This is the premise behind creatine too.

During a cutting cycle Caffeine will also energize and reduce the feeling of fatigue so you will be able to finish your long boring cardio sessions. Anything to help motivate you to do your cardio sessions during a cutting cylce is a huge bonus!

  1. Christian on July 26th, 2009

    Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about the use of stimulants, such as caffeine, as an ergogenic aid in training, and the use of NSAIDs in pain management. And the role of both of these in bodybuilding. There are few studies suggesting NSAIDs stunting the body’s protein synthesis (see elsewhere in this blog), but the mechanisms by which they do this is unclear. I suppose the researchers in this field are thinking of all possible chemical reactions in the body(?).

    What if…the crucial component here is physical stress and/or pain. I mean, what if taking a stimulant puts the body into a “fight or flight” -mode where the process would be something like stimulation -> adrenalin -> cortisol (plus a lot of other biochemical processes, excuse my lay-man like deduction, I have no education in endocrinology). Cortisol, as we know, is the most catabolic hormone the body produces. Then, taking a stimulant before training, how effective it might be in producing more intensive training, would be counter-productive in producing also a greater cortisol secretion(?). I found some studies about this in Pub-Med supporting this hypothesis (see e.g. Beaven et al. 2008, IJSNEM, 18(2)). Comments, thoughts?

    Now, to the other part, painkillers. Instead of concentrating on the possible chemical pathways of NSAIDs preventing protein synthesis, what if…the “missing link” here is simply pain. Doesn’t physical pain cause some kind of increase in testosterone production (in order to help the body to cope with any eventual strain, thinking in evolutionary terms)? And if we take away the pain, with e.g. NSAIDS, the testosterone will not spike.

    Like I said, I have no education in endocrinology (I’m a psychologist with a keen interest in strength training), and would love to hear comments to my thoughts from somebody who is more educated within this field.