Should you have a coffee pre workout? The Olympians are nodding…
Pro athletes know that coffee before a workout is a good idea. A really good idea. The kind of idea that puts gold medals in your sight. Because around 76% of elite athletes include coffee and caffeine in their training diet, did you know?
Coffee pre workout: we check out the research
Pro sports scientists have conducted lots of research into why you should sip coffee before a workout. And we mean a lot. Experts have been researching this topic since 1907 (when they published the first formal study) and are still diving into the stats right now. Their results are pretty conclusive: coffee is AWESOME before exercise!
Tell me more: what are the advantages of drinking coffee before a workout?
Make you perform better in high-intensity exercise
No amount of coffee or bananas or Red Bull will make HIIT easy. Sorry, but we gotta be honest.
BUT, drinking coffee before intense exercise can significantly improve your performance. One study found that runners who consumed caffeine before a 5k improved their time by 1-1.1%. This cuts around 18 seconds off the average 5k run. And, as all runners know, every second makes a big difference.
The clever lot at the British Journal of Sports Medicine also analysed coffee and decaf drinkers running the 1500 metres. What did they find? The regular coffee drinkers were 4.2 seconds speedier than the decaf-ers. They had a faster ‘finishing burst’, too.
Great for strength
Is weightlifting more your thing? Prefer planks and push-ups to quick sprints? You still need to say yes to coffee before hitting the gym!
Not quite as much research has been carried out into the effects of caffeine on strength exercise, but most of that which has points in the same direction.
Take this 2021 study (we like a good study, can you tell?) by Frontiers in Nutrition. It shows that 3mg of caffeine per kg of body mass gives extra oomph to your bench presses. More specifically (because we know ‘oomph’ isn’t a very sciencey term), caffeine increased both the power and velocity of the participants’ workouts. Top stuff!
Improves reaction time
As all non-early birds know, coffee makes us feel more awake. But did you know that it sharpens your focus, too? The caffeine in coffee prompts our adrenal glands to release adrenaline. This ‘fight or flight’ hormone makes our heart beat a little faster, which pumps more blood to our muscles.
Now we’re alert and Ready. To. GO. Ready to punch lightning-quick in boxing or smash a sneaky ball back in tennis.
There’s more where that came from! Why else should you have coffee before a workout?
- Reduces fatigue
- Improves endurance
- Increases motivation
- Increases your metabolic rate so you burn more fat
- Helps in the post-workout recovery
- It tastes pretty fabulous, too…
Best time to drink coffee before a workout
So you know you should have coffee before a workout, but when should you have it? Quick sip on the start line or a cup three hours before? Let’s find out.
Coffee 45-60 minutes before exercise is ideal for the average gym-goer. This gives your body enough time to absorb the caffeine into your blood and start to take effect. It also means you won’t have a whole lotta liquid sloshing about in your stomach while you run…
Want to take it up a notch? Keep reading, because you can change the timing of your coffee depending on your workout.
- Isometric exercises are endurance exercises that don’t require joint movement – think planks, squats and yoga poses. For these types of exercise, coffee 60 minutes before is ideal.
- Then there are resistance-based isotonic exercises. Running and cycling are two types of isotonic movement, as are push-ups, bench presses and bicep curls. Getting ready to run? Time a coffee 30 minutes before you hit ‘go’.
How much coffee do I need?
Yep, we know, coffee tastes so good you could drink it forever (like, actual forever). But you don’t need us to tell you that’s not the best idea.
So, how much coffee should be in your pre workout cup? 2–6 mg of caffeine per kg of body weight is best for most gym bunnies. What does this actually mean?
- The average person weighs 62kg.
- Let’s take 4 mg of caffeine per kg of body weight as an average.
- 62 x 4 = 248
- The average cup of coffee contains about 100 mg of caffeine.
- This makes two coffees a good idea! For the average person, 1-2 cups of coffee pre workout will be awesome.
It depends on the individual, of course. Found a coffee amount that makes your PB soar? Then that’s your optimum!
We’ve done pre, but what about caffeine POST workout?
In need of something to spur you on for that last lap? That final round of burpees? How about coffee?? Now, doesn’t that sound nice…
Drinking coffee after exercise is a great way to help the post workout recovery. You might know that coffee is a source of polyphenols. We find this micronutrient in food and drinks such as berries, dark chocolate, wine and (of course) coffee. It helps to reduce inflammation and muscle pain, so is pretty key after a tough session in the gym.
Fancy another benefit of drinking coffee post workout? Of course you do. This time, we’re chatting glycogen. This is a stored form of carbohydrate and is used by the muscles during hard-core exercise. It’s super important to top up your body’s glycogen’s store after a workout to help with tissue repair and avoid (too much) fatigue. Just make sure you drink your joe with some carbs – that’ll leave those glycogen stocks as good as new!
What gives you a bigger boost: coffee or energy drinks? Click below to find out!
Coffee for energy!