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Effects of Caffeine and Aspirin on Light Resistance Training Performance, Perceived Exertion, and Pain Perception

Hudson, Geoffrey M1; Green, J Matt2; Bishop, Phillip A2; Richardson, Mark T2

Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research:
doi: 10.1519/JSC.0b013e31818219cb
Original Research

Hudson, GM, Green, JM, Bishop, PA, and Richardson, MT. Effects of caffeine and aspirin on light resistance training performance, RPE, and pain perception. J Strength Cond Res 22(6): 1950-1957, 2008-This study compared independent effects of caffeine and aspirin on muscular endurance (repetitions), heart rate (HR), perceived exertion (RPE), and perceived pain index (PPI) during light resistance training bouts performed to volitional failure. It was hypothesized that the hypoalgesic properties of these ergogenic aids would decrease pain perception and potentially result in enhanced performance. College-aged men (n = 15) participated in a within-subjects, double-blind study with three independent, counterbalanced sessions wherein aspirin (10 mg·kg−1), caffeine (6 mg·kg−1), or matched placebo were ingested 1 hour before exercise, and RPE, HR, PPI, and repetitions (per set and total per exercise) were recorded at 100% of individual, predetermined, 12-repetition maximum for leg extensions (LE) and seated arm curls (AC). Repeated-measures analyses of variance were used for between-trial comparisons. Caffeine resulted in significantly greater (p < 0.05) HR (LE and AC), total repetitions (LE), and repetitions in set 1 (LE and AC) compared with aspirin and placebo. Aspirin resulted in significantly higher PPI in set 1 (LE). In LE, 47% of participants' performance exceeded the predetermined effect size (≥ 5 repetitions) for total repetitions, with 53% exceeding the effect size (≥ 2 repetitions) for repetitions in set 1 with caffeine (vs. placebo). In AC, 53% (total repetitions) and 47% (set 1 repetitions) of participants exceeded effect sizes with caffeine (vs. placebo), with only 13% experiencing decrements in performance (total repetitions). Aspirin also produced a higher PPI and RPE overall and in set 1 (vs. placebo). This study demonstrates that caffeine significantly enhanced resistance training performance in LE and AC, whereas aspirin did not. Athletes may improve their resistance training performance by acute ingestion of caffeine. As with most ergogenic aids, our analyses indicate that individual responses vary greatly.

Author Information

1Department of Health, Human Performance, & Recreation, Baylor University, Waco, Texas; 2Department of Kinesiology, University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, Alabama

Address correspondence to Geoffrey M. Hudson,

© 2008 National Strength and Conditioning Association