Whether you reach for a can of fizz, or an espresso, Third Space Head of Education Josh Silverman reveals whether caffeine really can give you an edge in the gym
As work and life stresses grind you down, it’s only logical to look for a mental and physical pick-me-up on the way to your precious hour of training. It’s your time to forget about any to-do list and focus on yourself. Adding a little fuel to your fire can, supposedly, make all the difference and heat up the benefits of your power hour.
Despite the varied and over-excited branding, most pre-workout formulas and drinks contain the same ingredients, just in differing amounts. But one ingredient is ever-present – caffeine – and it promises to help you find another gear in your performance.
Caffeine can come in a number of forms – there’s even caffeinated chewing gum, these days – but it’s mainly found in energy drinks and a good old-fashioned cup of coffee. But no matter how you take it, we wanted to find out whether it really can fuel extra reps with a barbell or push you further on the dreaded air bike.
There have been numerous studies conducted in the area of sports nutrition and we have now been able to establish some guidelines to get the most out of your supplement stack. Across all of the Third Space clubs, our PT’s took part in a month long research review on this very topic.
Here we present the major take-homes when it comes to using caffeine for performance:
- You will need around 6mg per kg of bodyweight, 30-45mins before training to maximise the benefits. For someone around 60kg, this would equate to 360mg of caffeine or a double espresso from a high-street coffee shop. If you’re 90kg, you’re up at a triple shot, which seems like a lot. So, check the caffeine content at each shop before ordering a half-pint to yourself!
- Going above 6mg/kg does yield greater performance results, sure, but it’s above this level that we feel the negatives begin to outweigh the benefits. Side effects can include insomnia, palpitations, irritability and stomach discomfort.
- Some people are, weirdly, “non-responders”. This doesn’t mean it is solely useless. Those who do not get the caffeine buzz may be better off opting for a shot post-workout. It will help to speed up the recovery and reduce fatigue once you’re back at your desk. Good news when fighting the 4pm slump.
- It is a natural fat burner. Don’t get too excited on this one. This doesn’t mean you are going to get a six-pack knocking back Red Bull, but it will aid training for endurance events. It helps your body to use a more sustainable and available fuel source – fat – to power your runs, rather than relying solely on glucose.
In short, the hype is, in most cases, richly deserved. Time it right and caffeine really can power you to improved performance. But if you’re looking to add an extra coffee into your daily routine, just remember to have some mints at the ready, yeah?