Caffeine Improves Performance
on Aug 09, 2017
Always looking for that extra edge? We asked Paul Johnson to explain how the caffeine in your favorite cup of Extreme Bean Coffee can give you that edge on the competition floor. Read more about Paul below.
How caffeine improves performance
The use of caffeine is becoming more and more common among those looking to find a legal edge, there are 1000's of studies that have been carried out on the safety and effectiveness of caffeine within sport, fitness and weight management, many crossfitters are now using caffeine to get more reps, faster times and lift more weight. Here are some of the benefits that can be achieved with a small caffeine hit before training or competition
Endurance is the ability to keep going at a sub-maximal intensity for an extended period of time using the aerobic energy system or sustain higher intensities of exercise for longer via the anaerobic energy systems: Regardless of the task taking a bigger engine generally allows more work to be completed in a given period of time and plays a important role in the recovery from strenuous training. The use of caffeine can help improve endurance based activities by a number or different ways: These include
- Caffeine may encourage the increased use of fat for fuel during exercise: caffeine causes adrenaline release and switches on the sympathetic nervous system (SNS) which helps to free up and burn fat, the benefit of this for Crossfit is it may allow glycogen to be spared for the later end of training or event when we are pushing past the red line for the final couple of minutes.
- Caffeine reduces perception of effort during exercise: making training feel easier at a relative intensity is a huge psychological boost, especially during longer EMOM's / Met Con or mono-structural intervals.
- The combination of the 2 above points leads to improved endurance which has been found repeatedly in research settings and carried over to real world event ranging in time frames and intensities.
- May improve motivation to exercise. Caffeine causes the release of dopamine which acts on the reward and motivation regions on the brain.
Benefits on Strength, Power and Met-Cons
Strength and power are the abilities to produce maximum force and apply that force quickly, while Met-con require and combination of everything: In short, having a good engine is important, but if you lack the strength and power to move the barbell / kettlebell / odd object or even your own body weight, your engine isn’t going to get a look in.
- May improve muscular strength: Due to its effect on the central nervous system (CNS) caffeine may help improve neural muscular recruit allowing bigger weights to be lifted. This is likely to be more noticeable of a 3-5 rep max of barbell complex compared to a 1 rep max lift
- Caffeine may aid power and strength endurance to a greater extent than 1 rep max strength due mainly to its ability to help dull our perception of pain, meaning more reps / work can be performed before stopping, this could be the difference between going un-broken on Fran and putting the bar down at rep 18
Benefits for competition day nutrition
- Caffeine taken post training with carbs may promote increased levels of glycogen storage which could be useful on competition days when time between events is short and restoring depleted glycogen is important to allow high levels of performance across a full competition. This could be a good cup of coffee (hint hint) between events which your normal post-wod carbs
- Caffeine had been shown to reduce the perception of DOMs 48 – 72 hours after training making it a perfect way to help prevent the post-comp soreness and get back into the flow of this come Monday morning
In a sport such as Crossfit where a combination of difference energy systems are being used, caffeine is a perfect choice for improving performance as it has a positive effect on each time domain and training mode used within the sport. It’s got a proven safety record and supporting research, there are very few substances promoted as performance enhancing that can boost similar records. The best thing of all is the same performance enhancing effects of caffeine found in an artificial neon coloured pre-workout drink, are also found in coffee which also offers a stack load of health benefits to.
What are you waiting for? Order your next PR espresso now!
About the author: Paul Johnson, MSc, BSc, SENr
Paul has provided nutritional coaching and support to athlete in a wide variety of sports including competitive Crossfit athletes, international weightlifters in the masters age group, MMA fighters and recreational crossfitters and fitness enthusiasts just looking in improve health and body composition
In addition to Paul's experience in sports nutrition, he has a strong background in personal training, while his day job sees him delivering exercise referral sessions with particular focus on cardiac rehab, heart failure and adult weight management"