Coffee Before Training: Are There Any Benefits?

You might have heard that drinking coffee before training can have a positive effect on your performance. Today, we'll look at how true this really is.
Coffee Before Training: Are There Any Benefits?

Last update: 10 August, 2020

Drinking coffee before training is a fairly common practice. Many athletes who are looking to improve their performance use a range of diet strategies and ergogenic foods. But not all of them are effective. So, what’s the deal with coffee?

Well, before we dive into this, it’s important to remember that supplements or substances will only work if you already follow a good diet. If you have poor eating habits and don’t train properly, supplements and training aids aren’t going to make much of a difference.

So, let’s have a look at the benefits of drinking coffee before training and how you can get the most out of it.

Drink coffee before training to reduce fatigue

Coffee is well known for its caffeine content. Caffeine is an alkaloid that delays the onset of fatigue once training has started. This has been shown in research published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research.

In this study, researchers looked at the effects of drinking normal coffee compared to decaffeinated coffee. The results confirmed that as well as increasing the athlete’s heart rate, caffeine improved their overall performance.

Years later, the effects of coffee were studied in the context of soccer training and the results were published in the journal Nutrients . In this study, it was again shown that caffeine delayed the onset of fatigue and helped soccer players to perform better in a series of jumps and sprints.

An espresso next to a stopwatch.

Coffee before training improves cognitive performance

As well as helping the stave off physical fatigue, coffee also improves the functioning of the central nervous system. According to a publication in the journal Nutrients, caffeine is capable of enhancing an athlete’s decision-making abilities.

This can be particularly important for team sports and those that are highly technical. Improving speed can be a significant competitive advantage.

How much coffee do you need to drink?

So, by now it’s probably clear that coffee works as an ergogenic substance. However, it’s important to understand the quantities involved if you’re going to get the most out of it.

The scientific literature shows that men should consume between 150 and 200 milligrams of caffeine about 30 minutes before starting exercise if drinking coffee. For women, between 100 and 150 milligrams should be enough.

So, what does this mean in normal language? Well, this means that you’ll need to drink somewhere between two and three cups of coffee. With lower quantities, you’ll still get the positive cognitive benefits, but the delay of fatigue will be reduced.

Other options apart from coffee

If you don’t like coffee, there are other options out there, such as caffeine tablets, which come in quick or slow-release forms.

Typically, these products contain an ergogenic dose and some of them combine the caffeine with other substances that enhance its effects, such as guarana.

Coffee beans and caffeine tablets.

In any case, they’re usually highly stimulating, so it’s best not to take them the first time before a competitive event. Some athletes report tachycardias and not everyone will react to caffeine in the same way.

Drinking coffee before training improves performance

As we’ve seen, drinking coffee can have a beneficial impact on both your physical and mental performance. And not only that, but you don’t have to drink coffee; you can try caffeine tablets instead.

Drinking two or three cups of coffee half an hour before physical activity will improve performance and speed up your decision-making. Both of these can be key factors when it comes to high-level sports. Have you tried it yet?

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  • Richardson DL., Clarke ND., Effect and coffee and caffeine ingestion on resistance exercise performance. J Strength Cond Res, 2016. 30 (10): 2892-900.
  • Mielgo Ayuso J., Calleja Gonzalez J., Del Coso J., Urdampilleta A., et al., Caffeine supplementation and physical performance, muscle damage and perception of fatigue in soccer players: a systematic review. Nutrients, 2019.