Coffee and squats

Who doesn't love at least of one of these?! New research has shown that they're even better together. Here at pH Nutrition we want to encourage people to use real food first. This is why I have done a little bit of digging to show that coffee could be even better for boosting your squats than the pre-workout you're guzzling now. 

In a recent study, researchers set out to analyse the influence coffee and caffeine have on strength training. They recruited nine resistance-trained men (~24 years old). Participants took 15 minutes to drink coffee, rested for 45 minutes, then began the workout. They warmed up , completed a squat regimen, rested for 5 minutes, then completed a bench press regimen. They performed the squat and bench press protocol at 60% of their 1-rep max until failure on 5 separate occasions. Before each session, they drank one of five different drinks:

-    Nescafé original (instant) coffee with ~433mg caffeine (dissolved in 600mL water)  
-    Decaf with ~2mg caffeine (almost none, dissolved in 600mL water)
-    Decaf plus Caffeine Anhydrous with ~425mg caffeine (two gel capsules)
-    Caffeine Anhydrous (pure caffeine) with ~425mg caffeine (two gel capsules)
-    Placebo

Now I know....Nescafe original is not what we are recommending! Proper coffee from CWTCH is the rocket fuel we want you to be drinking. 

The results. 

Here's the breakdown:

Squats (Total Weight Lifted During Workout)

Coffee - 2,976lb (17-22 rep range)
Decaf - 2,447lb (14-19 rep range)
Decaf + Caffeine - 3,086lb (18-23 rep range)
Caffeine - 2,557lb (15-20 rep range)
Placebo - 2,314lb (13-17 rep range)

Participants were able to squat a significant amount of more total weight after drinking a combo of decaf and pure caffeine—followed by coffee, decaf, and pure caffeine—compared to the placebo. During the decaf plus caffeine condition, five out of nine subjects lifted their greatest total weight, while the other four did so in their coffee trial. 

So, what does the decaf coffee do? The researchers say it's possible other components in coffee (like the antioxidant properties of polyphenols) work positively with caffeine to have a beneficial effect on performance. Did you know that for Americans, coffee is the number one source of antioxidants!

For me the small difference between coffee only and decaf + caffeine is insignificant. Just have a normal coffee! Unless you are like Lee Steggles and I who love a decaf plus espresso. This is the winning combo!

Now, interestingly enough, the total weight lifted during bench press sets all hovered between 1,543-1,719lb (700-780kg). That may seem odd, but older research, published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, also found caffeine supplements don't have a major benefit on bench press one-rep max; but they're not exactly sure why coffee and caffeine improves lower body moves more so than upper body—whether it has to do with the size of the muscle group or other factors. 

The effect of coffee on strength performance is undoubted. There are a load more studies showing coffee can improve exercise performance. (1, 2, 3)

Bottom line: Chuck away that expensive pre workout that is loaded with crap forms of caffeine, ingredients that elevate heart rate and generally cause gastric distress. Instead have a high quality coffee and get under the bar!!




Always choose the best quality coffee you can afford. The better quality increases the antioxidant profile. I have been drinking this at home recently and love the taste. 

If you are in the Clapham area why not stop into CWTCH at CrossFit Shapesmiths to sample some incredible coffee.