Did you know over 85% of Americans consume at least one caffeinated beverage per day?
And I mean, it’s no surprise. That massive energy rush is just what most people need before they leave for work or school.
(I’m a college student, and caffeine saves me in finals week)
But, what are the benefits of caffeine for bodybuilding? That rush of energy has to go somewhere right?
If you don’t have time to read the full write-up, here’s what you need to know about the benefits of caffeine for bodybuilding:
Using caffeine for bodybuilding is a great way to get energy right before a workout. Using a small and safe amount can give you that little boost needed to hit a max! The only drawback is that a ‘crash’ may happen depending on how long your workout is. So time your most important lifts accordingly!
But, let’s cover this more in-depth.
What is Caffeine?
Caffeine is a stimulant! A stimulant is something that in simple words- makes you energized.
As aforementioned, caffeine is the most taken medication in the world. In fact, you’ve likely already consumed quite a bit of it yourself.
If you’ve ever had coffee or an energy drink, most of that ‘rush’ is coming straight from the caffeine you’re ingesting.
What Happens When You Take Caffeine?
Now that we know what caffeine is- what exactly happens when you take it? Like, what happens in your body?
According to certified Personal Trainers, Hannah Daughtery and Ben Rose, when you take caffeine- this is what happens:
“As caffeine enters the system- several things happen:
Body temperature increases
- This can aid in burning calories and losing weight.
Epinephrine is Boosted
- This is your ‘fight or flight’ hormone. This increases your alertness and performance.
Nervous System Shows an Increase in Energy Levels
- Your nervous system is actually one of the most important parts of lifting
Kickstarts the lipolysis process
- This releases free fatty acids into the bloodstream, which your body uses for energy. This is a big energy boost.
Blocks adenosine receptors
- This makes you feel more awake and less tired.
Dopamine and Norepinephrine is boosted
- This means your brain function improves and you feel better.
Great For a Workout (Provided your workout is shorter)
Caffeine is fantastic for a workout.
Look at all the benefits above! Basically, everything in your body is energized and recharged. You gain more strength, focus, and clarity.
The only drawback? There will be a crash somewhat shortly after you take it.
So, if I were you, structure your workout in a way that prioritizes your hardest lifts first.
In the best bodybuilding program, The Arnold Blueprint to Mass- it already is set up like this.
But, put your hardest compound lifts first- anything that requires the most energy! That way you’re doing it first with the most caffeine in you, before that ‘crash’ happens.
You’d much rather that crash hits when you’re doing cardio or something like forearm training instead of trying to overhead press.
(I Take Caffeine DURING My Workout)
To combat this crash, I actually take caffeine DURING my workout.
Now, personally, my workouts are a bit different. I spend generally 3-4 hours in the gym every day. Many people can relate that going to the gym is great for mental health, and it’s kind of like my therapy to get my mind off of things.
But, what happens when that crash hits? Well, ultimately for me that crash never really comes because I am constantly taking caffeine during my workout.
I bring a cup of C4 Sport Pre Workout with me, and drink it as I workout. Most of the drinking is done after my heavy lifts in the gym, to try and recharge all that energy I just burned.
Now, don’t overdo it. I don’t generally take a lot of caffeine before the gym, just some. So in reality, I am getting the same caffeine as everybody else, but it is more spaced out and over a longer period of time.
This helps me stop that ‘crash’ that happens as that caffeine is always in my system.
Caffeine Boost Endurance
While I touched on this a bit above, I want to reiterate that caffeine is known for boosting endurance.
In fact, caffeine can be a real life saver if you’ve got a big run coming up. I used to run for 60 minutes everyday, and always started off my mornings with some caffeine- it really did help!
According to Medical Research, “Effect of Caffeine on Sport-Specific Endurance Performance: A Systematic Review”, “In conclusion, caffeine ingestion can be an effective ergogenic aid for endurance athletes when taken before and/or during exercise in moderate quantities”.
The journal states that their athletes had a wide range of reactions to the caffeine: either they reacted great or they didn’t. And they tacked this up to the idea that some people had higher caffeine tolerances, some people took it at different times, ate different things.
But, one big takeaway was one endurance runner had a nearly 17% increase in performance.
The journal then suggests abstaining from caffeine for a few days to get the maximum effect. So, if you’re trying to hit a personal record, it may be worth it to cut it off for a week or so, then down it so you get that ‘reset’ and feel powerful again.
But, if you’re using it to help hold you over during a run or workout, that is perfect. In fact, caffeine has been shown time and time again to give endurance athletes more focus, energy, and it’s been shown that overall you just are in a better mindset.
Caffeine Boosts Strength
Caffeine is a BIG strength booster.
In a recent study that was largely critical of caffeine’s overhyped benefits, the researchers found that ultimately it can increase a bodybuilder’s 1 rep max by 3%.
While 3% doesn’t sound like a lot, it actually is. When bodybuilders increase their 1 rep max, they add 5 lbs onto the bar, NOT 30. So that caffeine can actually have a huge increase, even if it is only 5 lbs added to someone’s deadlift- in the powerlifting world, that’s a lot.
Great For Losing Weight!
Caffeine is actually a natural appetite suppressant and also increases your metabolic rate- which means you burn more calories.
That’s why black coffee is such a recommended drink when losing weight. It’s a 0 calorie drink that can really help you suppress bad urges to eat sugary/bad foods for you.
Combine your caffeine with something healthy like a steak and some vegetables, and you won’t be feeling hungry for hours. This will help you shred and show off those hard-earned muscles, or just get rid of some of that extra, more dangerous body fat.
It’s estimated that normal caffeine use can burn an extra 100 calories a day.
But don’t EVER use caffeine as a way to solely lose weight. Remember, you lose weight by eating in a caloric deficit by tracking your nutrition via MyFitnessPal or Cronometer. If you use caffeine as a way to lose weight, you will end up in the hospital. (Trust me, I’ve been there)
Use a little caffeine after a workout to get some more energy and calm your appetite a bit while eating some healthy food and you’ll see great success.
Don’t Overuse Caffeine- It CAN Kill You
While caffeine seems like a harmless drug in this day and age, don’t overuse it.
There have been way too many bodybuilders that have been injured and/or killed by overdosing on caffeine.
While for the most part it seems harmless, it does have some side effects that can be observed even under normal use including:
- increased heartrate
- appetite problems
And if you take an extreme dose, it can lead to death.
So, please, for the sake of everything, do not overuse caffeine. Just use it normally like everybody else.
While it can differ for each person, the FDA recommends to NEVER go above 400 mg in a single day for an adult.
I recommend much lower, I say to never go above 200 mg just for your own safety.
Remember, caffeine is addictive and can mess you up. So use it responsibly to avoid those problems.
Additionally, if you are an ‘at-risk’ person for medical complications, please seek a physician before using caffeine. This may include people who have been recently injured, sick, pregnant, genetic defects, etcetera.
Conclusion of Benefits of Caffeine for Bodybuilding
In conclusion, caffeine is a powerful tool to help endurance and strength. It’s great for bodybuilding as it helps you work harder in the gym, build more muscle, and helps you focus.
The only drawback is the crash that happens, and as long as you are using caffeine in moderation, there are usually no side effects.
So, use that caffeine to your advantage and start growing!