Effects of caffeine supplementation on muscle endurance, maximum strength, and perceived exertion in adults submitted to strength training: a systematic review and meta-analyses

Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2020 Jun 18;1-14. doi: 10.1080/10408398.2020.1781051. Online ahead of print.

Abstract

This study aimed to determine the effects of caffeine supplementation on muscle endurance, maximum strength, and ratings of perceived exertion (RPE) in individuals undergoing strength training with external resistance exercises. A search of three databases (PubMed, LiLACS, and CENTRAL) and gray literature was carried out to find randomized controlled trials, with a double-blind design, which investigated the effects of caffeine supplementation in healthy adults. Meta-analyses of weighted mean differences (WMD) and standardized mean differences (SMD) between caffeine and placebo groups from individual studies were performed using a random-effects model. Nineteen studies were included in the quantitative synthesis. Only the bench press and the leg press exercises were assessed in a sufficient number of studies to be included in meta-analyses. In the bench press exercise, caffeine supplementation improved strength resistance (WMD 0.87 (95% confidence interval (CI): 0.33, 1.41) repetitions, P = 0.001; 15 studies), and maximum strength (WMD 2.01 (95% CI: 0.20, 3.80) kg, P = 0.02; 7 studies), but showed no effect in RPE (SMD -0.45 (95% CI: -1.40, 0.48), P = 0.34, 7 studies) In the leg press exercise, no significant improvement were observed in muscle endurance (WMD: 1.24 (95% CI: -0.21, 2.70) repetitions, P = 0.09, 8 studies), maximum strength (WMD 8.49 (95% CI: -11.91, 28.90) kg, P = 0.415, 3 studies), and in RPE (SMD -0.17 (95% CI: -1.62, 1.27), P = 0.812, 3 studies). Caffeine supplementation showed a significant ergogenic effect on muscle endurance and maximum strength in the bench press exercise. More investigations are needed to clarify the contradictions in its effects regarding lower-body exercises.

Keywords: Athletic performance; fatigue; muscle strength.