As summer comes to an end, fall schedules begin picking up and life is suddenly chaotic. If you’re like me, you probably need a cup or two of coffee within reach at all times in order to stay motivated, be focused, and accomplish life! But, is it cheating when you rely on a little cup of joe to fire you up for your workouts? The answer: no! Caffeine is a central nervous system stimulant and also functions as an ergogenic aid, which means it can enhance athletic performance. It increases your heart rate and blood pressure, but also makes you feel more awake, alert and energetic. One effect that caffeine can have on prolonged exercise is reducing your perceived level of exertion, meaning that exercise may feel easier allowing you to take longer time to fatigue.
Now, if you were to rely on caffeine solely to lengthen your workouts, that’s dangerous. The effects that too much caffeine can have on a person are very harmful and include insomnia, nervousness, irritability, upset stomach and muscle tremors. How much is too much? Figure 150-200 milligrams of caffeine a day (2-3 cups of coffee) is harmless and fairly normal for the average person. Consuming 250 milligrams or more is where you may see problems. So, if you begin to feel a bit jittery from too much java, cut back, drink some water, eat a light snack, and call it a day (from the coffee, of course)!