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Research Review

Research Review: Caffeine and Strength – Effects on 1 Rep Max

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While you of course need to lift with a high-intensity and have a sound training plan to grow bigger or stronger, other advanced methods can help you along the way and speed up your progress!

One of these simple yet effective methods is using Caffeine, one of the worlds most powerful supplements!

While most people use Caffeine for a daily energy boost in their Starbucks, I have discussed it’s benefits for an athlete in several articles. As you may have guessed, those benefits even extend into sports performance and more specifically, strength.

This study aimed to determine the effect of caffeine on strength gains in 37 people with at least 1-year of resistance training experience.

During the first visit, baseline measurements of strength on bench press and leg extension were recorded. Participants then returned for a second trial 48 hours later, classed as visit 2.

During this second visit the subjects were divided into two groups: the Caffiene SUPP group received around 200mg of caffeine one hour before the test and compared to a placebo group (who had nothing but an empty pill).

Both groups performed 1 repetition max tests on bench press (BP) and leg extension (LE). The load was gradually increased after successful attempts until the subjects were unable to lift the load for a complete rep.

Results

The results shown on the graph indicate an increase of 2.1% in 1RM bench press in the group supplementing with caffeine while the placebo group showed no increase. However, leg extension strength was unchanged in both groups.

While this finding may seem small, 2% can equate to 10LB for some heavy lifters. If you are advanced, a 2% improvement can take several weeks or months to achieve from training alone!

Another research review (which assessed all the current studies) found it may improve leg strength by up-to 7% (Warren et al., 2010). Pretty impressive for pop-ing a single pill right?!

In the past, caffeine has demonstrated potential to increase endurance and also boost fat oxidation (burn). Now, you can see caffeine may also boost your 1 rep max and maximal strength!

Reference:

Beck, T. W., Housh, T. J., Schmidt, R. J., Johnson, G. O., Housh, D. J., Coburn, J. W., & Malek, M. H. (2006). The acute effects of a caffeine-containing supplement on strength, muscular endurance, and anaerobic capabilities. The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research, 20(3), 506-510.

Warren, G. L., Park, N. D., Maresca, R. D., McKibans, K. I., & Millard-Stafford, M. L. (2010). Effect of caffeine ingestion on muscular strength and endurance: a meta-analysis. Med Sci Sports Exerc42(7), 1375-87.

About the author

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Rudy Mawer, MSc, CISSN

Rudy has a 1st class BSc in Exercise, Nutrition & Health and a Masters in Exercise & Nutrition Science from the University of Tampa. Rudy currently works as a Human Performance Researcher, Sports Nutritionist and Physique Coach. Over 7 years he has helped over 500 people around the world achieve long last physique transformations.

He now works closely with a variety of professional athletes and teams, including the NBA, USA Athletics, World Triathlon Gold Medalists, Hollywood Celebrities and IFBB Pro Bodybuilders. If you would like to get in contact or work with Rudy please contact him on social media.

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