This sentiment may or may not be well accepted by the masses but it’ll save you money in the long run and net you very similar results while being less degenerative to your overall health. A bold statement I know, but let’s dig into it.
What’s in coffee?
Coffee is made by leaching flavors and oils out of coffee beans. Coffee is almost 100% water with a few small percentages of soluble plant matter (the dissolved coffee bean). The bean is harvested, roasted, and the contents are extracted when it comes in contact with boiling water depending on your coffee brewing method.
3,5 Dicaffeoylquinic acid – This protects cells from free-radical damage, yep you guessed it coffee is a source of antioxidants.
Niacin – A few cups of coffee can provide your entire daily reqs. Of niacin, more commonly known as vitamin B3.
Caffeine – Caffeine survives the roasting, and brewing process to deliver the punch you get from coffee. Caffeine works to enhance your cardiovascular system, focus your mind, and kill that workout. In my experiences coffee alone replicates almost an identical effect to most off-the-shelf powdered pre-workouts.
Chlorogenic acid – Responsible for some of the bitterness in coffee, this potent antioxidant may be helpful in losing weight by modifying blood glucose levels.
Alright we know what coffee is, we know some of the fancy chemicals in the drink, but let’s bust this article open to get you pumped about drinking coffee as your pre-workout.
1 Improved circulation – get that blood pumping
A Japenese study showed that after consuming a cup of coffee, participants experienced a 30% increase in blood flow compared to those who drank decaf coffee. Guess what? Your muscles need the oxygen that’s carried in blood and coffee can help.
2 No pain, still gain
Guess what we’ve got another study here, by the University of Illinois. They found that consuming caffeine before a workout led to reduced perceived muscle pain. That delicious cup of coffee could help you push through that plateau, or keep on gaining like you have been. Don’t give up those gains!
3 Stay in the game
We’re all going to get old eventually, but who wants to be old and frail? Not me, and I hope not you. In a study at Coventry University it was found that caffeine helped maintain muscle mass during the aging process.
4 Get the muscles what they need!
Another study showed that compared to consuming JUST carbs, a combination of caffeine/carbs netted a 66% increase in muscle glycogen for several hours after intense exercise. This means that you can decrease your recovery time and be supercharged for your next session. Why not?!
5 Supercharge performance
This study showed that caffeine helps athletes train harder. Runners who consumed caffeine performed better over 1500m than those who didn’t – a whopping 4.2 seconds faster. There are more studies but the performance increase is there folks.
Alright so you’ve decided to ditch that tub of powdered pre-crap and hop on the coffee train. You can either take caffeine pills (you don’t get the antioxidant effects of the coffee) or drink brewed coffee if you enjoy it.
Proper caffeine dosing is important, you should always start below the recommended amount and work up from there as necessary as everyone reacts differently to coffee. Here’s the source I use for caffeine dosing information:
Cycling coffee and caffeine
Like any stimulant, I believe it’s necessary to cycle caffeine. I try to stack it with my deload weeks which makes them rough but it’s the best time for it.
My protocol is every 1-2 months I cycle off caffeine for around a week, then gradually re-enter it back into my routine. This is really tough for me but worth it in the long run to maintain the effects of caffeine.
Caffeine/coffee vs other pre-workouts
I’ve tried quite a few pre-workouts before and while I can’t deny they got me insanely hyped up for my workout, they often left me feeling like crap afterwards and my wallet felt pretty bad too. You can get pounds of coffee for a fraction of the price of a tub of pre-workout.
If you really are dead set on some of the additional ingredients found in pre-workouts I would at least recommend making your own by buying bulk ingredients and mixing it yourself. That way there’s no fiddling with proprietary blends wondering what you’re really drinking.
Either way, my advice in regards to pre-workouts is to keep it simple, keep it consistent, and cycle it as necessary as you don’t want to overload your system, build a dependence, or basically nullify the essential boost that you can get. Use it as a tool, not a crutch.
- How to boost your workout with caffeine (BodyBuilding.com)
- Guide to french press coffee makers (My favorite brewing method)
- 6 Healthy reasons to keep loving coffee