Recently, there has been a growing abundance of research showing the good effects of caffeine. Beyond the obvious effect of sensory arousal, enabling easier mornings and better focus, coffee also has various antioxidant and disease-preventing effects, such as reducing the incidence of cancer and diabetes. These are valuable perks for those of us who already enjoy drinking coffee on a daily basis.
In the weight-lifting community, too, many have noticed that having pre-workout caffeine increases performance. However, it leads one to ask, what are the long term effects of caffeine on a regular strength training program?
As someone who visits the gym frequently and a coffee drinker, I had some concerns about how this combination might be affecting my long-term performance goals. I was glad to discover coffee-drinking is largely synergistic with any weight training program.
How does caffeine work?
Most people are familiar with the stimulating effects of caffeine. The main reason for this effect is the way caffeine interacts with an enzyme, adenosine. Adenosine has a regulatory effect on the body: by deactivating energetic sites, it induces drowsiness and sleep. By binding to the adenosine receptor and blocking it but without activating it, caffeine induces wakefulness because adenosine is not able to exert its regulatory effect.
In addition, caffeine raises the production of the excitatory neurotransmitters, dopamine and glutamate.
How does caffeine interact with strength training?
These activating effects on the body’s energetic systems results in three key effects, all of which are beneficial to the goals of a weight training program:
- Increased energy and focus
- Increased fat metabolism
- **Increased muscle fiber synthesis**
The last effect might be the most surprising. This effect is known to be a byproduct of increased metabolic activity in the mTOR pathway (which is the same pathway targeted by Taurine containing energy drinks). Increased activity in this pathway increases muscle production.
What does this mean? Caffeine consumption in moderation can not only help you to get more cut, give you more energy, but also make it easier to put on muscle mass. Of course, it should be used in moderation, as too much coffee can have minor neurologic side effects, such as jitteriness, anxiety, and reduced sleep.
The optimal recommended quantity is something like 4–6 cups per day. Another heuristic is to take your body mass in (kg x 2) converted to mg. For instance, a 200kg person should have something like 400mg per day for optimum results to their workout program.
As for me, I plan to use small amounts of caffeine to augment my strength training efforts. If this article was helpful, let me know in the comments, below. See ya!