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Craig Pickering and Jozo Grgic

Caffeine is a well-established ergogenic aid, with its performance-enhancing effects demonstrated across a wide variety of exercise modalities. Athletes tend to frequently consume caffeine as a performance enhancement method in training and competition. There are a number of methods available as a means of consuming caffeine around exercise, including caffeine anhydrous, sports drinks, caffeine carbohydrate gels, and gum. One popular method of caffeine ingestion in nonathletes is coffee, with some evidence suggesting it is also utilized by athletes. In this article, we discuss the research pertaining to the use of coffee as an ergogenic aid, exploring (a) whether caffeinated coffee is ergogenic, (b) whether dose-matched caffeinated coffee provides a performance benefit similar in magnitude to caffeine anhydrous, and (c) whether decaffeinated coffee consumption affects the ergogenic effects of a subsequent isolated caffeine dose. There is limited evidence that caffeinated coffee has the potential to offer ergogenic effects similar in magnitude to caffeine anhydrous; however, this requires further investigation. Coingestion of caffeine with decaffeinated coffee does not seem to limit the ergogenic effects of caffeine. Although caffeinated coffee is potentially ergogenic, its use as a preexercise caffeine ingestion method represents some practical hurdles to athletes, including the consumption of large volumes of liquid and difficulties in quantifying the exact caffeine dose, as differences in coffee type and brewing method may alter caffeine content. The use of caffeinated coffee around exercise has the potential to enhance performance, but athletes and coaches should be mindful of the practical limitations.

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Jozo Grgic, Filip Sabol, Sandro Venier, Ivan Mikulic, Nenad Bratkovic, Brad J. Schoenfeld, Craig Pickering, David J. Bishop, Zeljko Pedisic and Pavle Mikulic

Purpose: To explore the effects of 3 doses of caffeine on muscle strength and muscle endurance. Methods: Twenty-eight resistance-trained men completed the testing sessions under 5 conditions: no-placebo control, placebo control, and with caffeine doses of 2, 4, and 6 mg·kg−1. Muscle strength was assessed using the 1-repetition-maximum test; muscle endurance was assessed by having the participants perform a maximal number of repetitions with 60% 1-repetition maximum. Results: In comparison with both control conditions, only a caffeine dose of 2 mg·kg−1 enhanced lower-body strength (d = 0.13–0.15). In comparison with the no-placebo control condition, caffeine doses of 4 and 6 mg·kg−1 enhanced upper-body strength (d = 0.07–0.09) with a significant linear trend for the effectiveness of different doses of caffeine (P = .020). Compared with both control conditions, all 3 caffeine doses enhanced lower-body muscle endurance (d = 0.46–0.68). For upper-body muscle endurance, this study did not find significant effects of caffeine. Conclusions: This study revealed a linear trend between the dose of caffeine and its effects on upper-body strength. The study found no clear association between the dose of caffeine and the magnitude of its ergogenic effects on lower-body strength and muscle endurance. From a practical standpoint, the magnitude of caffeine’s effects on strength is of questionable relevance. A low dose of caffeine (2 mg·kg−1)—for an 80-kg individual, the dose of caffeine in 1–2 cups of coffee—may produce substantial improvements in lower-body muscle endurance with the magnitude of the effect being similar to that attained using higher doses of caffeine.