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Is Coffee A Suitable Pre-Workout Supplement?

by Christian Duque

The need for energy has become a major issue facing athletes everywhere. A great preworkout product on the market is IronMag Labs’ Maximum Pump V2. This product helps athletes train longer, get pumps, battle fatigue and even get stronger. The category, however, is largely over-saturated in the fitness industry, with everything from absolute junk to excellent powders, pills, and tablets. Prices also vary, and unfortunately for the consumer, you don’t always get what you pay for. Take the amino spiking scandal of not to long ago, some companies implicated were by no means bottom-shelf. Another area where shadiness takes place is protein. Some products, even those considered to be from the best brands, are deceptive insofar as how much protein they actually offer per serving.

In fact, the deception runs deep, and it’s not even limited to the fitness industry. Most people see “sugar free” or “calorie free,” but they’re oblivious to how calories are actually counted. Just because a product says 0 calories, doesn’t mean there’s no calories. There may be a fraction of sugar not high enough to represent a calorie. If someone on prep, for example, takes in such a calorie-free product in large amounts, those fractions start adding up to whole numbers. For example, for someone on carb depleting before a contest, this could mean a really bad placing. For someone, who for example has diabetes, this common mistake could result in more serious consequences. Finally, it should also be noted that very few companies are interested in incurring the expense of having their products tested. The current climate for consumers is not a good one. A lot of people who use lesser known pre-workout products, are starting to make the switch to the old school. Back in the 60’s & 70’s, there was no such thing as pre-workout products. Athletes would have a cup of coffee, maybe with a pre-workout meal, and a few minutes later go and train. There’s a few factors today that differ from training then. Also, is coffee comparable to powders preferred today? And is energy all that an athlete needs? These are just some of the questions I’ll look to address with this article.

Back in the old days training was different. We’ve all heard people say, “if it ain’t broke, why fix it?” We also know what works. Generally, the foundation is on the money. No matter how many new training methodologies may emerge on the scene, we can always rely on the basics; however, athletes need more energy today than ever before. Why is that? Are we not humans – then and now? Yes, we most certainly are, but we’re also doing a lot more in the gym, today.

Activity, especially physical activity, requires energy. Calories give us energy, which ever macronutrient is at play; however, when physique-based athletes are working toward specific goals, sometimes it takes more than mere caloric manipulation. Here is where the artificial stimulants come into play. Caffeine is the king, but caffeine alone causes spikes and crashes that many athletes would prefer to avoid. Also, not everyone like coffee, so when you remove food from the equation, it doesn’t leave a lot options for what the body can use as fuel/energy.

If we’re talking about the old school bodybuilder who ate strictly to grow, then whether someone “likes something or not” won’t be an issue. Old school guys would swallow raw eggs, go weeks without a single carb, and manipulate their caloric intake like no other. If they believed top soil bring would bring gains, they’d be scoopin it up!! Another argument is that the hardcore guys could care less about, is convenience. Instead of brewing and drinking 4-6 cups of coffee prior to a workout, a lot of modern-day lifters opt for a scoop of powder in a shaker. Some people nowadays even complain about having to shake a plastic cup. Old school guys don’t care, but old school guys have gone the way of the dinosaurs.

I’m sure my favoritism is abundantly clear by this point. The old school athletes took the cake, but today it’s also a different story. Back then, no one did cardio, much less fasted cardio. Even in Arnold’s era, a quick run on the beach amounted to all the cardiovascular activity of a prep. Those guys were slammin the steaks, cottage cheese, and whole eggs 7-8 times a day – every day! They had a diet high in protein and fats, carbs on Sunday, and plenty of time to lay out and nap. Today, there’s cardio to do and much longer workouts. The workouts are longer, in part, because there’s so much more equipment and so much more science behind lifts. Some machines have a number of ways of doing the exercise. Some athletes aren’t content with hitting a muscle group in just the conventional way; they want to hit from a variety of angles, something which in the old days was unheard of. Further, back in the old days, these guys owned the gyms. That’s to say, the gyms were there for those who lifted – and lifted in a hardcore manner. Today, a lot of the time at the gym is used waiting around for inconsiderate people to get off machines – whether they’re on their phones, talking to gym buddies, or simply staring into space. Also, because we’re in the world of political correctness, a jacked bodybuilder can’t make his/her presence felt, much less urge time-wasters along.

Lifters need a lot more energy, sustained over a period of time.

Coffee is simply not enough energy for all that. Many workouts today can last up to 2hrs, even if there’s only about 45 minutes of actual training, completed. Further, there’s a growing number of athletes who train on an empty stomach, so fatigue can become a problem almost immediately once the workout starts. In terms of vasodilation, this may not be much of an issue for younger lifter, but as we age, the pumps become ever more elusive. A solid arginine or niacin based product will help swell the muscle and give the athlete a sign of when training is coming close to over-training. That’s right, pumps don’t just feel good, but they can also act as bright lines of when to slow it down or stop training – go figure!

Cosmetically, coffee is also not the stimulant of choice for the vain. Coffee stains the teeth, creates bad breath, and much like cigarette smoke, the scent of coffee sticks to people’s’ clothes. For coffee nuts, it’s like music to their ears, but for just about everyone else, it can actually be somewhat of a nuisance. As someone who does 90% of all my work at Starbucks, I get told ALL THE TIME, that I have the scent of coffee on me, but I’m never quite sure if it’s a plus or a slam. Then again, Starbucks is my favorite, so it’s gotta be good, right? Old school guys don’t care about smelling like coffee or having coffee stains on their teeth, but I think we’ve already established that old school athletes aren’t all that prevalent in the scene and their purchases certainly aren’t paying the bills in the supplement industry.

In summation, if you drink enough coffee, you could probably mimic the effects of caffeine, but you’ll miss out on all the other great benefits of taking a pre-workout. You will also likely crash too soon and have a lackluster workout. Don’t get me wrong, I love my coffee while writing articles and keeping up with all my social media and marketing endeavors, but when it comes to training hard, I need a solid preworkout product. Maximum Pump V2, by IronMag Labs, is a solid choice. Coffee alone, on the other hand, just isn’t going to cut it for me.

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