Caffeine. It's that magical ingredient in coffee which powers us through the day. It keeps us sharp and awake to take on the tasks we have.
Many gym rats swear by pre workouts. Do you know that most pre workouts contain caffeine? Do you want to know how to maximise caffeine usage for gym performance?
If you do, you've found the right article!1) What is caffeine?
Caffeine is a powerful stimulant found in coffee, tea and many energy drinks. In Singapore, it's commonly found in red bull, Monster drinks and even Coca Cola. There are also caffeine tablets, which are cheap and a convenient way of consuming caffeine.
Caffeine works by antagonising (blocking) adenosine receptors. Adenosine causes sedation and relaxation when it acts upon its receptors, located in the brain. Caffeine prevents this action and causes alertness and wakefulness. 2) Long-term effect of taking caffeine
Regular caffeine intake can lead to tolerance. This means the effects of caffeine will be diminished, often to the point where the only benefit a user experiences is caffeine’s anti-sleep effect. This is an ‘insurmountable’ tolerance, which means more caffeine will not overcome it.3) How to use caffeine wisely
Amount to use: Caffeine dosages should be customised to individuals. If you are new to caffeine, start with a 100mg dose and slowly increase every 3 times of usage by 50mg. This is best achieved by using caffeine tablets. Research states that the performance boosting effects of caffeine fall within the range of approximately 3-6mg per kg bodyweight of the user.(see studies: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18799995, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16540848, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22569090, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20421833, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22496767http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18458357, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18458357, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21157384) This means that for a 70kg person, 200mg-400mg of caffeine will give optimal performance boost in the gym.
How often to use: Caffeine should only be used in gym sessions whereby you are trying to break a new lift record: be it a one-repetition max attempt or doing more reps for the same weight. If you are simply "going through the motion" - which is not wrong by the way - you probably should not use caffeine. This is because you want to minimize tolerance for caffeine so as to maximize the stimulatory effect of it.
Cycling caffeine: After using caffeine for a prolonged period of time, it is necessary to "cycle" it in order to reap benefits from it again. This means taking some time off totally from caffeine, before maybe resuming using it again. The following are some guidelines to help determine how long a break to take:
A) If you have been using caffeine for 3 times or more a week consistently for 4 weeks, take a 4 weeks complete break from it. Do not completely go off at once though. Start by taking half the dose you were taking for as often as you would plan to for a week. Then half it again for a week. And finally take 4 weeks complete off.
B) If you have been using caffeine for 1-2 times a week consistently for 4 weeks, take a 2 weeks complete break from it. Do not completely go off at once though. Start by taking half the dose you were taking for as often as you would plan to for a week. Then half it again for a week. And finally take 2 weeks complete off.
In the end, caffeine is but a supplement. You should not rely solely on caffeine to improve your gym performance. A well structured training program, sound nutrition and ample rest and recovery is probably much more important in the long run to maximize gym performance
If you are interested in maximizing gym performance, do visit any Gold's Gym Personal Training outlet to speak to our trainers, who will work closely with you to realize your goals.