The Effects of Caffeine in Weight Training

Fact Checked

Robert St-Pierre/iStock/Getty Images

Whether you are training to increase endurance or power, caffeine can help. Dr. Michael Colgan, author of "Optimum Sports Nutrition: Your Competitive Edge" suggests drinking Arabica coffees like Columbian, Kenyan AA or Guatamalan Antigua, freshly ground and filter brewed on a competition or intense training day. Just the right amount can help give you that extra push.


Endurance weight training consists of high repetitions at a low weight. You might train like this if you are a runner or cyclist that needs fresh muscles for a long period of time. According to Dr. Colgan, caffeine can assist in increasing endurance by up to 18 percent.

Power Performance

Weight training is more commonly done to increase strength and power of muscles. In a study conducted in 2008 by K. Woolf, W.K. Bidwell and A.G. Carlsen, published in the "International Journal of Sports Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism," scientists studied the effects of caffeine on power and intensity of training. Participants were given either caffeine or a placebo, then performed a leg press, chest press and maximal anaerobic test, known as Wingate. When subjects ingested caffeine, they could lift more weight during the chest press and had a longer time to fatigue during the Wingate test. Both results conclude that caffeine can increase muscle power.

Rating of Perceived Exertion

Caffeine may be helpful in limiting pain felt during weight training. Rating of perceived exertion or RPE is a measurement of how intensity of exercise feels to a person. In a study by Faldon Magkos and Stavros Kavouras published in 2004 in the journal "Sports Medicine," caffeine's effect on RPE was analyzed. Magkos and Kavouras found that no matter what activity, RPE was lower after caffeine ingestion.

Blood Pressure and Heart Rate

Caffeine is a stimulant, no matter what you are using it for. Be aware that in most people caffeine raises both heart rate and blood pressure. Since exercise, including weight training also increases heart rate and blood pressure, you should be aware of how much caffeine you are taking in and how much your body can handle. Dr. Colgan explains that there is a dose relationship between caffeine and performance. However, you shouldn't take so much that your health and any benefits become compromised.