One of the best sports supplements out there is dripping from your Mr. Coffee every morning. Caffeine may help you lift more weight and also reduce your perception of exertion and pain, according to new research in The Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness.
Guys in the study chugged a drink laced with the caffeine equivalent of about two cups of coffee for a 165-pound man. An hour later, subjects were able to complete three more bench press reps at 60 percent of their maximum load versus when they benched after drinking a placebo drink. They also found lifting easier and had less soreness immediately afterward, the researchers report. (Make it easier to navigate the vitamin aisle with the Men’s Health Supplement Guide.)
Why? Caffeine blocks the signals of pain and fatigue that your hard-working muscles send back to your brain, says study author Michael Duncan, Ph.D., of Coventry University in the United Kingdom.
To make it work for you, lay off caffeine for 12 hours before your workout (say, after 6 the night before a morning session). That way, you’ll clear the caffeine from your bloodstream and get the maximum impact from the new dose. Then, consume about 2.3 milligrams of caffeine per pound of body weight–a cup of coffee has around 100 to 150 milligrams–an hour before you hit the weights. (Build a Better Brew with this best gear for coffee and espresso.)
If you can’t stomach that much java, try tablets like Vivarin, which gives you 200 milligrams of caffeine per tablet.