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  • Author: Jozo Grgic x
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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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Filip Sabol, Jozo Grgic and Pavle Mikulic

Purpose: To examine the acute effects of 3 doses of caffeine on upper- and lower-body ballistic exercise performance and to explore if habitual caffeine intake affects the acute effects of caffeine ingestion on ballistic exercise performance. Methods: Twenty recreationally active male participants completed medicine-ball-throw and vertical-jump tests under 4 experimental conditions (placebo and 2, 4, and 6 mg·kg−1 of caffeine). Results: One-way repeated-measures analysis of variance (ANOVA) with subsequent post hoc analyses indicated that performance in the medicine-ball-throw test improved, compared with placebo, only with a 6 mg·kg−1 dose of caffeine (P = .032). Effect size, calculated as the mean difference between the 2 measurements divided by the pooled SD, amounted to 0.29 (+3.7%). For the vertical-jump test, all 3 caffeine doses were effective (compared with placebo) for acute increases in performance (P values .022–.044, effect sizes 0.35–0.42, percentage changes +3.7% to +4.1%). A 2-way repeated-measures ANOVA indicated that there was no significant group × condition interaction effect, suggesting comparable responses between low (≤100 mg·d−1) and moderate to high (>100 mg·d−1) caffeine users to the experimental conditions. Conclusion: Caffeine doses of 2, 4, and 6 mg·kg−1 seem to be effective for acute enhancements in lower-body ballistic exercise performance in recreationally trained male individuals. For the upper-body ballistic exercise performance, only a caffeine dose of 6 mg·kg−1 seems to be effective. The acute effects of caffeine ingestion do not seem to be affected by habitual caffeine intake; however, this requires further exploration.

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Sandro Venier, Jozo Grgic and Pavle Mikulic

Purpose: To explore the acute effects of caffeinated chewing gum on vertical-jump performance, isokinetic knee-extension/flexion strength and power, barbell velocity in resistance exercise, and whole-body power. Methods: Nineteen resistance-trained men consumed, in randomized counterbalanced order, either caffeinated chewing gum (300 mg of caffeine) or placebo and completed exercise testing that included squat jump; countermovement jump; isokinetic knee extension and knee flexion at angular velocities of 60 and 180°·s−1; bench-press exercise with loads corresponding to 50%, 75%, and 90% of 1-repetition maximum (1RM); and an “all-out” rowing-ergometer test. Results: Compared with placebo, caffeinated chewing gum enhanced (all Ps < .05) (1) vertical-jump height in the squat jump (effect size [ES] = 0.21; +3.7%) and countermovement jump (ES = 0.27; +4.6%); (2) knee-extension peak torque (ES = 0.21; +3.6%) and average power (ES = 0.25; +4.5%) at 60°·s−1 and knee-extension average power (ES = 0.30; +5.2%) at 180°·s−1, and knee-flexion peak torque at 60°·s−1 (ES = 0.22; +4.1%) and 180°·s−1 (ES = 0.31; +5.9%); (3) barbell velocity at 50% of 1RM (ES = 0.30; +3.2%), 75% of 1RM (ES = 0.44; +5.7%), and 90% of 1RM (ES = 0.43; +9.1%); and (4) whole-body peak power on the rowing-ergometer test (ES = 0.41; +5.0%). Average power of the knee flexors did not change at either angular velocity with caffeine consumption. Conclusions: Caffeinated chewing gum with a dose of caffeine of 300 mg consumed 10 min preexercise may acutely enhance vertical-jump height, isokinetic strength and power of the lower-body musculature, barbell velocity in the bench-press exercise with moderate to high loads, and whole-body power.

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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.