So it's time to hit the gym....but where should we get our caffeine from? A caffeine pill or a cup of coffee?

Well thankfully a brand new study (1) has investigated this and found something quite eye opening - coffee may have more super powers than what we understand!

The research saw 9 trained male subjects complete "a squat and bench press exercise protocol at 60% 1-RM until failure" on different occasions: 

1. Subjects drank 2 cups of coffee an hour before working out (COF). They had 0.15 g instant coffee per kg of bodyweight - which supplied them with 5 mg caffeine per kg bodyweight.

2. On this occasion - they drank two cups of decaffeinated instant coffee an hour before training (DEC). They were given 0.15 g decaffeinated instant coffee per kg bodyweight.

3. They had two cups of decaffeinated instant coffee an hour before training, and also had caffeine pills (D+C). The subjects had 0.15 g decaffeinated instant coffee and 5 mg caffeine per kg bodyweight.

4. Here they just took caffeine pills an hour before training - consuming 5 mg caffeine per kg bodyweight. 

5. They were given a placebo an hour before training (PLA). 

So what did they find?

The subjects managed to bust out more weight when they had ordinary coffee, or decaffeinated coffee plus caffeine - compared to just the placebo, the caffeine pills alone or the decaffeinated coffee. This makes sense.

Check out the graph below:

Coffee better stimulant than caffeine pill for strength athletes

What we discover here is that it's not just the caffeine in coffee potentially that's working wonders, but rather other substances in the coffee - or those that bolster the stimulatory effect of caffeine. More research really is needed on this front, and is beyond the scope of what these researchers set out to find.  

But as we can see below - for bench pressing - it didn't really matter what they were given as there wasn't any significant differences. 

Coffee better stimulant than caffeine pill for strength athletes

The authors conclude: 

"Coffee and decaffeinated coffee plus caffeine have the ability to improve performance during a resistance exercise protocol, although possibly not over multiple bouts."​

They go on:

"The practical implications of the present study are that the ingestion of caffeinated coffee, providing 5 mg•kg-1 of caffeine (approximately two large cups i.e. 300 ml per cup) prior to resistance exercise, can enhance performance...Further research should be conducted to observe if enhancements in performance can be procured from a lower dose of caffeine from coffee, for example 3 mg/kg-1, which would be a more practical amount of coffee to drink (approximately 1 large cup i.e. 300 ml)."

Make sure you do take it easy on the coffee and caffeine - you don't want to consume too much.

However, it's good to know that coffee is the powerhouse some of us talk it up to be!

If you're like some people who just cannot drink coffee, maybe think about may just help your gym gym/fitness progress!

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm off to put the kettle on...


"Stay Fit, Stay Flexed!" 



(1) Richardson DL, Clarke ND. Effect Of Coffee And Caffeine Ingestion On Resistance Exercise Performance. Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research. doi: 10.1519/JSC.0000000000001382