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.