Using caffeine to enhance your workouts

21 Sep 2021 06:00AM by David McDermott - Virgin Active Academy Manager

You may have heard people talk about pre-workout coffees and how a little espresso goes a long way to improve your levels of activity. But why and is it true? We spoke to Personal Trainer and Virgin Active Academy Manager David McDermott to find out more. 

I’ll start by saying that caffeine is not for everyone but if you already drink coffee, or energy drinks, you can make caffeine work better for you. Just by changing the time of day that you drink your coffee, you could start seeing measured improvements in your fitness and strength.

A number of studies have proven that caffeine can help you with:

❤️ Improving energy levels and alertness 
❤️ Stimulating your central nervous system 
❤️ Reducing fatigue
❤️ Improving endurance
❤️ Improving strength 

Caffeine can also be used as a tool for fat loss as it stimulates you to increase your level of activity. That means you’ll be able to work out harder and for longer without necessarily feeling it more. 

Needless to say, there are many benefits of caffeine for enhancing your body’s performance during your workouts. You don’t want to overdo it though, there’s a bit of a science to just how much you need and when’s best to have it. 

How much do I need?

Each regular cup of coffee contains between 85-100mg of caffeine and you should consume no more than 400mg per day. 

To feel the benefits in your workout, aim for around 3-4mg of caffeine per kg of bodyweight depending on your fitness level. As an example, if you work out 2-3 times a week and weigh 70kg (11st), aim for around 2 cups of coffee before you exercise.

If you don’t drink coffee, that’s okay too. Look for an energy drink instead - some have up to 180mg of caffeine each.

When’s the best time to have caffeine?

Before you exercise, you’ll want to wait at least an hour for your caffeine to kick in for optimum strength and muscular endurance. You might have a cup of coffee before you head to the gym so you’re ready for when you get there. 

Don’t forget, caffeine is not best for everyone and you should consult your doctor before consuming caffeine if you’re on medication, pregnant, have heart disease, thyroid disease, anxiety or high blood pressure. 

The important thing is doing what's right for you. Let us know how caffeine affects you. We're always interested to hear your fitness wins. And, if you do want a nice brew, you’ll find coffee in most of our Virgin Active clubs. 

Be sure to join us on 24 September for our Macmillan Coffee Morning in club!

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