14 March 2022

New research shows having highly caffeinated drinks before exercise has a significant effect on improving anaerobic power output and also slows down fatigue. 

The research, led by Sid Panayi, lecturer in Sport Analytics, School of Health, Sport and Bioscience, examined the effect of a pre-workout supplement on anaerobic power output and muscular fatigue during cycling sprints.

It found an average increase of around 4 per cent in anaerobic power output and an average decrease of around 24 per cent in fatigue during repeated sprints.

The article, "Acute Ingestion of a commercially available pre-workout supplement improves anaerobic power output and reduces muscular fatigue" has been published in the International Journal of Exercise Science.

When cyclists in the study drank a commercially-available pre-workout supplement drink 30 minutes before cycling, they were able to generate more power when they cycled (they could push harder on the peddles and therefore travel further) than when they just drank water or a placebo. They were also better able to manage fatigue across repeated sprints on the bike (their performance across repeated sprints decreased less) than when they had the placebo. 

Sid Panayi, who studied Sports and Exercise Science at UEL, said, "The new research proves that the pre-workout supplement effect is not purely a placebo, which may be a common consensus for some. It highlights that for some exercises, especially those that are short and intense, a pre-workout drink can be an effective supplement to enhance performance.

"We also found 30 minutes before exercise to be the prime time for consumption."

As part of the study, 18 participants took part, reporting for testing three times. Participants completed a 6x6 second repeated sprint test, with 20 seconds recovery between sprints. Anaerobic power output was recorded as the highest power achieved during the sprint test. Muscular fatigue was reported as a fatigue index across the six sprints ((maximum power - minimum power) ÷ total sprint time). During a baseline visit, participants consumed 250ml of water 30 minutes prior to testing, whilst in subsequent visits a taste-matched placebo (250ml water mixed with sugar-free juice) or a pre-workout supplement (250ml water mixed with one serving of the pre-workout supplement.

Anaerobic power output significantly increased following pre-workout ingestion compared to the placebo (885.8±216.9W vs 853.6±206.5W). Muscular fatigue was also significantly reduced compared to a placebo (3.31±1.34W.s  vs 4.39±1.93W.s) Therefore, these results highlight that an acute ingestion of a pre-workout supplement significantly improves anaerobic power output and attenuates muscular fatigue during repeated sprint cycling.

Read the full report here.

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