European Journal of Applied Physiology

, Volume 109, Issue 2, pp 287–295 | Cite as

Caffeine improves supramaximal cycling but not the rate of anaerobic energy release

  • Michael J. Simmonds
  • Clare L. MinahanEmail author
  • Surendran Sabapathy
Original Article


The purpose of this study was to determine if improved supramaximal exercise performance in trained cyclists following caffeine ingestion was associated with enhanced O2 uptake (\( \dot{V}{\text{O}}_{2} \) kinetics), increased anaerobic energy provision (accumulated O2—AO2—deficit), or a reduction in the accumulation of metabolites (for example, K+) associated with muscular fatigue. Six highly trained male cyclists (\( \dot{V}{\text{O}}_{2} \)peak 68 ± 8 mL kg−1 min−1) performed supramaximal (120% \( \dot{V}{\text{O}}_{2} \)peak) exercise bouts to exhaustion on an electronically braked cycle ergometer, following double-blind and randomized ingestion of caffeine/placebo (5 mg kg−1). Time to exhaustion (TE), \( \dot{V}{\text{O}}_{2} \) kinetics, AO2 deficit, blood lactate (La), plasma potassium (K+), caffeine and paraxanthine concentrations were measured. Caffeine ingestion elicited significant increases in TE (14.8%, p < 0.01) and AO2 deficit (6.5%, p < 0.05). In contrast, no changes were observed in AO2 deficit at isotime, \( \dot{V}{\text{O}}_{2} \) kinetics, blood [La] at exhaustion or peak [K+] following caffeine ingestion. However, [K+] was significantly reduced (13.4%, p < 0.01) during warm-up cycling immediately prior to the onset of the supramaximal bout for the caffeine trials, compared with placebo. It appears that caffeine ingestion is beneficial to supramaximal cycling performance in highly trained men. The reduced plasma [K+] during submaximal warm-up cycling may prolong the time taken to reach critical [K+] at exhaustion, thus delaying fatigue. Considering caffeine ingestion did not change \( \dot{V}{\text{O}}_{2} \) kinetics or isotime AO2 deficit, increases in absolute AO2 deficit may be a consequence of prolonged TE, rather than causal.


Severe intensity Anaerobic capacity Accumulated O2 deficit \( \dot{V}{\text{O}}_{2} \) kinetics Ergogenic aid 


Conflict of interest statement

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michael J. Simmonds
    • 1
  • Clare L. Minahan
    • 1
    Email author
  • Surendran Sabapathy
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Physiotherapy and Exercise Science, Gold Coast campusGriffith UniversitySouthportAustralia

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