Caffeine Supplementation for Powerlifting Competitions: An Evidence-Based Approach

J Hum Kinet. 2019 Aug 21:68:37-48. doi: 10.2478/hukin-2019-0054. eCollection 2019 Aug.


In this paper, we review the effects of caffeine on muscle strength and provide suggestions for caffeine supplementation in powerlifting competitions. The currently available studies indicate that caffeine ingestion may enhance strength in two powerlifting competition events, the squat and the bench press. For the deadlift, the same might be expected even though studies directly using this event are lacking. Optimal doses of caffeine are likely in the range from 2 to 6 mg·kg-1, and are highly individual. When using caffeine-containing capsules, 60 minutes pre-exercise seems to be a good timing of caffeine consumption. For other sources such as caffeinated chewing gum, a shorter period (5 to 10 min) from consumption to the start of the exercise seems to be effective. For shorter duration powerlifting competitions (e.g., 2 hours), one pre-competition dose of caffeine could be sufficient for acute performance-enhancing effects that might be maintained across all three events. For longer duration competitions (with longer rest periods between one repetition maximum attempts), there might be a benefit to repeated dosing with caffeine; for example, ingesting smaller doses of caffeine before each attempt or event. During training, powerlifters may consider ingesting caffeine only before the training sessions with the highest intensity. This approach might eliminate the attenuation of caffeine's effects associated with chronic caffeine ingestion and would help in maximizing performance benefits from acute caffeine ingestion at the competition. Nonetheless, withdrawal from caffeine (e.g., no caffeine intake seven days before competition) does not seem necessary and may have some indirect negative effects.

Keywords: 1RM; ergogenic; performance-enhancing; strength sports; supplements.