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Caffeine - A good pre workout?

Should you be consuming caffeine before your workout?
A cup of coffee

There are a lot of products out there that many of us have tried to give us that extra edge just before a gym session, or maybe a tough running session that you don’t feel too enthusiastic about!

I personally used to take PAS Game Ready. I didn’t like taking caffeine before games because I could never sleep in the night after it. When I heard that caffeine can have a half-life of 6 hours more recently, I wasn’t surprised why! Especially when you take 300mg of caffeine at 7pm! Just for perspective, the average cup of coffee will be around 100mg, so 3 coffees at 7pm is certainly going to assist in keeping you up!

However, on this one occasion when taking PAS Game Ready before a match which was a 7.30pm kick off, I got man on the match. I couldn’t turn back after that! After all, it was only a one off.

I do use caffeine more regularly now. Yes I have two young children who are up at the crack of dawn, and I think I have some form of mild insomnia because it takes me over an hour to fall asleep at night on average, but caffeine in the morning before my gym sessions feel good. All I require now is a coffee.

I’m sure there are some of you thinking “well I have 5 coffees a day, so if I take coffee before gym, it won’t have the required effect”. Incorrect. According to a 60 study meta-analysis, caffeine withdrawal appears unnecessary to benefit from caffeine supplementation (Carvalho et al. Sports Med 2022). This means it can prove effective for us all, whether you’re a coffee junky, or a one cup a day kind of person. This study said this was the case for men and women, and before endurance, strength and power exercise. It also stated that 6mg or less per Kg of your bodyweight proved to be most efficient. As a 100+ kg guy, that means a cup of coffee is plenty for me.

Now don’t think caffeine can replace a bad diet. If you lack carbohydrate in your diet, maybe you’re deliberately trying to decrease your bodyweight, or you haven’t eaten but think you will have a coffee to maintain the session quality on a session which you haven’t fuelled for properly? Even caffeine ingestion before a session when your glycogen stores are depleted won’t help you reach the same levels as if your muscles were stocked up on glycogen (Lane et al. Med Sci Sports Exercise, 2013).

So from personal experience, and from reading the literature, caffeine is effective before training, but ensure you’re fuelled properly, and if you’re not a great sleeper, consider what time of the day you’re taking it, as sleep is a vital component of recovery which we don’t want to hinder.


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