Purpose: Performance improvements after caffeine (CAF) ingestion are well documented when using a 1-d protocol. In numerous competitions such as the Tour de France, Tour de Ski, world championships, and National College Athletic Association championships, athletes compete for several days in a row. To date, no studies have investigated the effects of CAF when competing for consecutive days in a row. This study aimed to investigate the effects of placebo (PLA) and two different CAF doses (3 and 4.5 mg·kg−1 body mass) on performance in a 10-min all-out, cross-country, double poling ergometer test (C-PT) 2 d in a row.
Method: Eight highly trained male cross-country skiers (V˙O2max-run, 78.5 ± 1.6 mL·kg−1·min−1) participated in the study, which was a randomized, double-blind, PLA-controlled, crossover design. Performance was assessed as distance covered during a 10-min all-out C-PT. Oral ingestion of CAF or PLA was consumed 75 min before the all-out C-PT.
Results: Poling distance was improved after CAF ingestions compared with that after PLA on both days. The improvements on day 1 were 4.0% (90% confidence limits, ±3.3) and 4.0% ± 2.9% for both CAF doses, respectively (P < 0.05), whereas improvements on day 2 were 5.0% ± 3.6% and 5.1% ± 2.8% for CAF3 and CAF4.5, respectively, compared with those for PLA. Improved performance was associated with increased HR, adrenaline concentration, blood lactate concentration, and V˙O2 consumption after CAF ingestion. Furthermore, performance was elevated despite higher creatine kinase concentration and muscular pain at arrival on day 2 for both CAF doses.
Conclusions: Both CAF doses improved performance in the 10-min all-out C-PT compared with PLA over two consecutive days. Therefore, CAF seems useful for athletes competing over consecutive days despite higher muscle damage occurring after enhanced performance on the first day.