Optimizing Post-Exercise Recovery Through Nutrition - Caffeine (Part 8)

Caffeine, a well-known stimulant found in various beverages like coffee, tea, and energy drinks, has been recognized for its positive impact on muscle strength and performance.

NYB Team
By NYB Team
Nov 6, 2023
Optimizing Post-Exercise Recovery Through Nutrition - Caffeine (Part 8)

Caffeine is a widely recognized ergogenic aid, known for its positive impact on both endurance and resistance exercise performance. Its effects are particularly notable during periods of mental fatigue or sleep deprivation. By acting as an antagonist to adenosine, a component of the sympathetic nervous system associated with sensations of pain and fatigue, caffeine generates stimulating effects. This action not only enhances exercise performance but also potentially diminishes muscle soreness post-exercise, thereby aiding in recovery and subsequent training.

Studies examining the impact of pre-exercise caffeine consumption on muscle soreness and performance have demonstrated promising results. Hurley et al. observed reduced muscle soreness and improved performance in subsequent sets of bicep curl exercises following pre-exercise caffeine intake. Similarly, Duncan et al. reported a reduction in post-exercise muscle pain after bench press exercises to failure under the same caffeine supplementation protocol. Additionally, Pederson et al. indicated a potential link between high-dose caffeine consumption before exhaustive cycling exercises and increased post-exercise muscle glycogen accumulation, suggesting improved glycogen resynthesis.

Contrastingly, studies by Machado et al. found no notable effects of pre-exercise caffeine intake on inflammation or muscle damage markers in professional and recreational soccer players. Similarly, Vimercatti's research did not reveal any differences in markers of muscle fatigue or inflammation following moderate treadmill running between groups supplemented with caffeine and those given a placebo an hour before exercise.

Considering the relatively short half-life of caffeine in the body, consuming a maintenance dose during the recovery period may be necessary to leverage its benefits. Caldwell et al. implemented a multi-day supplementation protocol following an endurance bike ride, demonstrating reduced muscle soreness during the recovery period and improved subjective scores of muscle function related to daily activities and subsequent exercise. Similarly, Maridakis et al. found that caffeine consumption in two doses after electrically stimulated eccentric quadriceps exercise led to reduced muscle soreness and a slight enhancement in muscle force recovery in low-caffeine-consuming females.

However, when incorporating such a supplementation protocol, one must consider individual caffeine tolerance and the timing of supplementation. Afternoon caffeine intake may impede sleep, which is crucial for the recovery process. In summary, while pre-exercise caffeine intake shows promising benefits for reducing muscle soreness and enhancing performance, its effectiveness may vary depending on individual tolerance levels, exercise types, and supplementation protocols. Careful consideration of timing and dosage is essential to maximize its potential benefits without compromising crucial aspects of the recovery process.


O’Connor, E.; Mündel, T.; Barnes, M.J. Nutritional Compounds to Improve Post-Exercise Recovery. Nutrients 2022, 14, 5069

Pickering, C.; Grgic, J. Caffeine and exercise: What next? Sports Med. 2019, 49, 1007–1030. [Green Version]

Grgic, J.; Mikulic, P.; Schoenfeld, B.J.; Bishop, D.J.; Pedisic, Z. The influence of caffeine supplementation on resistance exercise: A review. Sports Med. 2019, 49, 17–30. 

Hurley, C.F.; Hatfield, D.L.; Riebe, D.A. The effect of caffeine ingestion on delayed onset muscle soreness. J. Strength Cond. Res. 2013, 27, 3101–3109. 

Duncan, M.; Oxford, S. Acute caffeine ingestion enhances performance and dampens muscle pain following resistance exercise to failure. J. Sports Med. Phys. Fit. 2012, 52, 280–285.

Pedersen, D.J.; Lessard, S.J.; Coffey, V.G.; Churchley, E.G.; Wootton, A.M.; Watt, M.J.; Hawley, J.A. High rates of muscle glycogen resynthesis after exhaustive exercise when carbohydrate is coingested with caffeine. J. Appl. Physiol. 2008, 105, 7–13.

Machado, M.; Antunes, W.D.; Tamy, A.L.M.; Azevedo, P.G.; Barreto, J.G.; Hackney, A.C. Effect of a single dose of caffeine supplementation and intermittent-interval exercise on muscle damage markers in soccer players. J. Exerc. Sci. Fit. 2009, 7, 91–97.

Machado, M.; Koch, A.J.; Willardson, J.; dos Santos, F.C.; Curty, V.M.; Pereira, L.N. Caffeine does not augment markers of muscle damage or leukocytosis following resistance exercise. Int. J. Sports Physiol. Perform. 2010, 5, 18–26.

Machado, M.; Vigo, J.; Breder, A.; Simoes, J.; Ximenes, M.; Hackney, A. Effect of short term caffeine supplementation and intermittent exercise on muscle damage markers. Biol. Sport 2009, 26, 3. 

Vimercatti, B.; Zovico, B.; Carvalho, B.; Barreto, B.; Machado, A. Two doses of caffeine do not increase the risk of exercise-induced muscle damage or leukocytosis. Phys. Educ. Sport 2008, 52, 96–99. 

Bell, D.G.; McLellan, T.M. Effect of repeated caffeine ingestion on repeated exhaustive exercise endurance. Med. Sci. Sports Exerc. 2003, 35, 1348–1354. 

Sökmen, B.; Armstrong, L.E.; Kraemer, W.J.; Casa, D.J.; Dias, J.C.; Judelson, D.A.; Maresh, C.M. Caffeine use in sports: Considerations for the athlete. J. Strength Cond. Res. 2008, 22, 978–986. 

Caldwell, A.R.; Tucker, M.A.; Butts, C.L.; McDermott, B.P.; Vingren, J.L.; Kunces, L.J.; Lee, E.C.; Munoz, C.X.; Williamson, K.H.; Armstrong, L.E. Effect of caffeine on perceived soreness and functionality following an endurance cycling event. J. Strength Cond. Res. 2017, 31, 638–643. 

Maridakis, V.; O’Connor, P.J.; Dudley, G.A.; McCully, K.K. Caffeine attenuates delayed-onset muscle pain and force loss following eccentric exercise. J. Pain 2007, 8, 237–243. 

Image Credits