How coffee pre-workout can boost performance

by Rhys Martin on Friday 05 August 2022

3 min read

How drinking coffee before your workout can boost your performance

Coffee drinkers need little encouragement, but various studies have shown that a ‘cuppa’ before your workout can boost your performance. So, whether you need an energy burst to get motivated to workout, or you want to maximise your efforts, drinking coffee pre-gym could be the way to go. 

Let’s take a look at some of the benefits of a pre-workout coffee.


The benefits of drinking coffee before exercise

Coffee lovers know the buzz you get soon after that first espresso. The key ingredient in coffee, caffeine, is a stimulant after all. Many drink coffee as a pick-me-up to get ready for the day, or to stave off the afternoon slump. But what about drinking coffee to turbo-charge your workout? Well, science says yes. Drinking a cup of coffee before working out has shown well-researched benefits, including:

· Increased muscle strength – good for lifting more

· Improved aerobic endurance – great for running or cycling longer

· Better sprinting, jumping, and throwing performance – ideal for high-intensity interval training (HIIT)

· Saving your glycogen stores (what fuels your cells, and you) and instead burning fat for fuel – good for lowering your body fat percentage

· Enhanced focus and alertness – ideal for keeping the perfect workout technique.


When to have a coffee before hitting the gym

To maximise the benefits of a pre-workout coffee, timing is important. A study from the International Society of Sports Nutrition (ISSN) showed elevated levels of caffeine appear in the bloodstream after 15 to 45 minutes, and peak about an hour after consumption. Put simply, drinking coffee about 45 minutes to an hour before your workout can make sure you see the most benefits.


How much coffee to drink

If drinking coffee can improve your workout, you should drink a lot of it, right? Wrong! Interestingly, the ISSN’s study found caffeine is effective for enhancing sports performance when consumed in low-to-moderate doses. And it doesn’t result in further improvement when consumed in higher doses. According to the ISSN, caffeine is an effective workout aid when consumed in doses of 2-6 mg per kg of body weight. This equals around 135-405 mg for a 68 kg person. Since an average single-shot cup of coffee contains about 100 mg of caffeine, drinking one double-shot coffee before working out could give you the ideal boost. 


The dangers of too much caffeine

As touched on above, more caffeine doesn’t equal bigger gains. In fact, too much caffeine can be seriously harmful to your health. Up to 400 mg of caffeine (equal to about four shots of coffee) is usually pretty safe. However, doses up around 2,800 mg (approximately 28 shots of coffee) can be deadly. And while you’re unlikely to drink 28 cups of coffee in a day, some pre-workout powders have been known to contain dangerously high amounts of caffeine. The side effects of having too much caffeine can include:

· Headache

· Insomnia

· Nervousness

· Irritability

· Frequent urination or inability to control urination

· Fast heartbeat

· Muscle tremors


Speak to an expert for tips about exercise and nutrition

Drinking coffee before working out is just one tip to get the most out of your exercise regime. Chat to a Virgin Active personal trainer for nutrition planning tips today, and achieve your fitness goals sooner.

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