Effects of caffeine intake on muscle strength and power: a systematic review and meta-analysis.

Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition. 2018;15:11

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Plain language summary

The possible physical performance enhancing (or 'ergogenic) effects of caffeine have been extensively studied since the early 1900s. Recent focus has shifted to its impact on anaerobic physical performance outcomes such as muscular strength, endurance and jumping tasks that require power. Although it has been found to enhance muscle endurance, less is known about its impact on strength and power. This is the first meta-analysis on caffeine and muscle power, and includes 20 studies - ten on muscle strength outcomes and ten on muscle power. The analysis found that caffeine significantly improves muscle strength (SMD = 0.20; 95% confidence interval [CI]: 0.03, 0.36; p = 0.023) but only for upper and not lower body strength. These results were found for men but more robust studies are needed to examine the impact for women (although the limited research suggests there may be a positive impact). This is in contrast to a previous meta-analysis that found no impact of caffeine on muscle strength (Polito, Souza, Casonatto & Farinatti, 2016). It was also found to significantly improve muscle power (SMD = 0.17; 95% CI: 0.00, 0.34; p = 0.047). Although the pooled effect of caffeine on performance outcomes was small to medium, even small improvements can make a big difference competitively. Future research is needed to identify the best dosage and form of caffeine to maximise its performance enhancing effects. Additionally, more robust research is needed to reduce bias, and studies including women. It is important to recognise that individual physical performance changes as a result of caffeine are variable, so these findings must be applied on a case-by-case basis. * Polito MD, Souza DB, Casonatto J, Farinatti P. Acute effect of caffeine consumption on isotonic muscular strength and endurance: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Sci Sports. 2016;31:119–28.


Background: Caffeine is commonly used as an ergogenic aid. Literature about the effects of caffeine ingestion on muscle strength and power is equivocal. The aim of this systematic review and meta-analysis was to summarize results from individual studies on the effects of caffeine intake on muscle strength and power. Methods: A search through eight databases was performed to find studies on the effects of caffeine on: (i) maximal muscle strength measured using 1 repetition maximum tests; and (ii) muscle power assessed by tests of vertical jump. Meta-analyses of standardized mean differences (SMD) between placebo and caffeine trials from individual studies were conducted using the random effects model. Results: Ten studies on the strength outcome and ten studies on the power outcome met the inclusion criteria for the meta-analyses. Caffeine ingestion improved both strength (SMD = 0.20; 95% confidence interval [CI]: 0.03, 0.36;  = 0.023) and power (SMD = 0.17; 95% CI: 0.00, 0.34;  = 0.047). A subgroup analysis indicated that caffeine significantly improves upper (SMD = 0.21; 95% CI: 0.02, 0.39;  = 0.026) but not lower body strength (SMD = 0.15; 95% CI: -0.05, 0.34;  = 0.147). Conclusion: The meta-analyses showed significant ergogenic effects of caffeine ingestion on maximal muscle strength of upper body and muscle power. Future studies should more rigorously control the effectiveness of blinding. Due to the paucity of evidence, additional findings are needed in the female population and using different forms of caffeine, such as gum and gel.

Functional medicine

Fundamental Clinical Imbalances : Hormonal
Patient Centred Factors : Triggers/Caffeine
Environmental Inputs : Nutrients ; Physical exercise
Personal Lifestyle Factors : Nutrition ; Exercise and movement
Functional Laboratory Testing : Not applicable
Bioactive Substances : Caffeine

Methodological quality

Allocation concealment : Not applicable
Publication Type : Journal Article ; Meta-Analysis ; Review