Caffeine may favorably
effect long-term endurance performance, but research results concerning
high-intensity, short term exercise have been mixed. Still, it seems
very likely from an analysis of the biochemical effects of caffeine that
it has a beneficial effect on short term fatigue and muscle fiber in
high-intensity, short term exercise like bodybuilding. Caffeine is also
often successfully used in combination with ephedrine and aspirin as a
thermogenic cocktail to burn fat and increase lean body mass.
The effects of
caffeine, however, seem to be significant only in those athletes who
don't regularly consume it. People who don't drink caffeinated beverages
seem to benefit from the use of caffeine before exercise; those
habituated to caffeine do not. One study concluded that a 10mg per
kilogram of bodyweight dose of caffeine is an ergogenic aid during
incremental exercise when it's taken 3-4 hours before exercise in
fasting subjects who have diets low in caffeine. Thus tolerance to
caffeine should be taken into account when an athlete wants to draw any
benefit from caffeine absorption before exercise or competition.
One main mechanism of
the potential ergogenic effects of caffeine is the antagonism at the
level of adenosine receptors, mainly in the central nervous system.
Caffeine also increases production of plasma catecholamine that allow
the body to adapt to the stress created by physical exercise.
Catecholamine production probably increases, in turn, the availability
of free fatty acids as muscle substrates during work, allowing glycogen
sparing. Caffeine is able to increase muscle contractility and can
improve the time before exhaustion, but has no ergogenic effect on
intense exercise of brief duration. Caffeine can also improve physical
performance and endurance during prolonged activity of sub maximal
intensity. Glycogen sparing resulting from increased rate of lipolysis
could contribute to the prolonged time to exhaustion.
Overall, the use of
caffeine before workouts (1-2 strong cups of coffee) in those who
ordinarily don't use caffeine would increase workload capacity and
increase the anabolic effects of exercise if used in conjunction with
proper training, nutrition and supplementation.
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