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Breaking the 500-Pound Barrier with Caffeine

Q: Will taking caffeine help me break the 500-pound barrier in the squat?

A: Sure, if your current max is 499 pounds. Although it’s impossible for me to answer such a vague question, I can tell you that properly timed intake of a caffeine supplement before a bench workout may enable you to train harder to reach your strength goals faster. In fact, I can back it up with science.

In the January ’11 issue of the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, sport scientists at Coventry University in the United Kingdom studied the effects of taking caffeine one hour before a bench press workout. The dosage was five milligrams of caffeine per kilo of bodyweight, which for an average male would be the equivalent of about 10 Coca-Cola Classics. Here’s what the researchers said: “Caffeine ingestion enhances performance in short-term resistance exercise to failure and may favorably change the mood state response to exercise compared to a placebo.”

Though in-depth recommendations are beyond my scope here, I’ve found that the best results occur if a trainee takes a caffeine supplement 45 minutes before a workout. Also, taking a formula that contains the amino acids tyrosine and phenylalanine supports the adrenal glands so as to prevent a caffeine “crash.” One such formula is called Java Stim. By the way, in contrast to the dosages prescribed in the Coventry study, research suggests that an optimal dosage is 10, not five, milligrams of caffeine per kilo of bodyweight.

Editor’s note: Charles Poliquin is recognized as one of the world’s most suc-cessful strength coaches, having coached Olympic med-alists in 12 different sports, including the U.S. women’s track-and-field team for the 2000 Olympics. He’s spent years researching European journals (he’s fluent in English, French and German) and speaking with other coaches and scientists in his quest to optimize training methods. For more on his books, seminars and methods, visit  IM



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