Caffeine and performance in endurance (aerobic) exercise

Print this page

A 2013 study considered the enhancing effects of caffeine versus coffee, concluding that caffeine consumed in coffee (5mg/kg body weight) and as a supplement (5mg/kg body weight) one hour prior to exercise can improve endurance exercise performance.2

Research published in 2012 concluded that a caffeine dose of 3mg/kg body weight appears to improve cycling performance; although doubling the dose (6mg/kg body weight) did not confer additional performance improvement in well-trained athletes.8

In 2011 a study examining caffeine withdrawal and high-intensity endurance cycling performance suggested that a 3mg/kg body weight dose of caffeine significantly improved exercise performance irrespective of whether a 4-day withdrawal period was imposed on habitual caffeine users.9

A review paper10 published in 2009 focused on endurance performance lasting more than five minutes and measured the time it took to run, cycle or row a set distance, rather than time to exhaustion, which better reflects typical competition conditions. Inclusion criteria were met by 21 papers covering 33 trials. Thirty of these showed a performance improvement with a mean improvement of 3.2 ± 4.3 % with caffeine consumption. The review10 concluded that overall caffeine ingestion can be an effective ergogenic aid for endurance athletes when consumed in moderate quantities (3-6mg/kg body weight), before and/or during exercise. However, abstaining from caffeine for at least 7 days before an event optimised caffeine’s ergogenic effect on performance during the event.

Caffeine and muscle pain

In 2009 a research paper reported on the effects caffeine had on muscle pain during 30 minutes of high-intensity cycling. Caffeine ingestion (5mg/kg body weight) was statistically significant in reducing the reported intensity of muscle pain and the effect was larger in the group of habitually low caffeine consumers.11

A 2011 study examined the effect of caffeine on leg pain and rating of perceived exertion during repeated bouts of high intensity exercise. Data revealed no effect of caffeine on leg pain or perceived exertion although caffeine intake improved multiple measures of performance. The authors concluded that it was plausible to suggest that subjects were able to perform better with similar levels of pain and exertion with a 5mg/kg dose of caffeine compared to a placebo.12

This information is intended for Healthcare professional audiences.
Please consider the environment before printing.