By Steven J. Fleck, PhD
Recently, Canadian researchers conducted a project looking at the effects of caffeine on weight training. After ingesting caffeine (four milligrams per kilogram body weight) and a placebo on two different occasions, experienced recreational weight trainers performed a standard weight training protocol consisting of a set of leg presses at 80 percent of 1RM and a set of bench presses at 70 percent of 1RM. The leg press and bench press were performed in a superset fashion with all sets performed to volitional fatigue. Three supersets or three sets of each exercise were performed with no rest between sets. Thus, a leg press set was performed to fatigue immediately followed by bench press set to fatigue which was followed by another leg press set to fatigue. This continued until three sets of each exercise were performed.
The average number of repetitions performed after caffeine and placebo ingestion in the leg press for sets one, two and three were 14 vs. 13, nine vs. nine and six vs. seven, respectively. The average number of repetitions performed after caffeine and placebo ingestion of the bench press for one, two and three were 12 vs. 12, eight vs. eight and five vs. six, respectively. In no instance was the average number of repetitions performed in a set significantly different between the caffeine and the placebo groups.
Results demonstrate that caffeine ingestion immediately prior to a weight training session offers no advantage in terms of number of repetitions performed in a set. Although the guys at your gym may feel more awake after drinking coffee, it appears the caffeine gives them no training advantage. (Med & Sci in Sports & Exerc, 35:987-994)