Supplements: Caffeine

By Coach Ashlynne

Caffeine is one of the most utilized supplements for increasing performance in both endurance and resistance training athletes. It is one of the few ergogenic aids that is beneficial for a wide spectrum of athletes. Caffeine reduces fatigue, increases attentiveness, and even boosts confidence. During a short bout of high intensity work, like weightlifting, caffeine improves power production. Caffeine boosts power production by increasing the contractility of the muscle by catalyzing the excitation-contraction coupling of the muscle, and also by mobilizing calcium ions inside the cell. In longer duration exercise, caffeine has been shown to prolong endurance exercise. Studies have shown an improvement by up to 21 minutes in time to exhaustion with caffeine compared to the placebo. 

Side effects related to the use of caffeine include anxiety, gastrointestinal disturbances, insomnia, and heart arrhythmias. Caffeine is also addicting and can result in withdrawal reactions of headaches, fatigue, and flu-like symptoms. Adverse effects of caffeine seem to be a greater risk when taking more than 9mg/kg (This would mean taking more than 613mg of caffeine for a 150lb person). 

One of the most popular forms of ingesting caffeine is in pre-workout energy drinks. Common ingredients in many energy drinks include caffeine, B vitamins, and carbohydrates. However, pre workouts can also contain many other stimulants and ingredients. When choosing a pre workout/caffeine supplement choice, the less ingredients the better. The recommended dose of caffeine to improve performance is between 3-9mg/kg. You can calculate this by dividing your bodyweight in pounds to find your weight in kilograms, then multiply that number by that 3-9 range. Start out on the low end of that recommendation and see how your body responds. 

Campbell, Bill. “Essentials of Strength Training and Conditioning.” Essentials of Strength Training and Conditioning, by Greg Haff and N. Travis Triplett, Human Kinetics, 2016, pp. 242–244.


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