Caffeine supplementation has been shown to be effective in improving performance in strength, endurance and repeat high-intensity exercise. Although the use of caffeine supplementation in combat sports has increased since it was removed from the WADA prohibited substance list, the effects of caffeine specific to combat sports have yet to be investigated. 

Caffeine is thought to improve performance by increasing calcium release from the sarcoplasmic reticulum, increasing motor unit recruitment, increasing glycolytic energy system contribution, as well as acting on adenosine receptors to decrease perceived exertion. 

10 national level judo and BJJ athletes underwent two separate, randomized testing trials, in which the intermittent judogi’s dynamic strength endurance test and a 5 second  maximal isometric handgrip test were performed after consuming either 5 mg·kg/ BM of caffeine or a placebo. The intermittent judogi’s dynamic strength endurance test involves performing a pull up holding on to a judogi wrapped around a bar overhead. The test is performed until volitional failure, and in this study they performed 4 sets with 3 minutes rest in between. 

Consumption of caffeine was shown to outperform the placebo by 7% in the judogi dynamic strength endurance test and by 5% in the isometric grip test. 

Grappling athletes should consider caffeine supplementation as one potential way to boost performance in intermittent high intensity tasks. 

#caffeine #combatsports #judo #bjj #jiujitsu #supplementation #grappling #thescienceofstriking

Lopes-Silva, J. P., Rocha, A., Rocha, J., Santos Silva, V. F. dos, & Correia-Oliveira, C. R. (2021). Caffeine ingestion increases the upper-body intermittent dynamic strength endurance performance of combat sports athletes. European Journal of Sport Science, 1–18.

About the author

Sam Gilbert

Sam Gilbert is a registered physiotherapist with the Australian Physiotherapy Association (APA) and certified strength and conditioning specialist (CSCS) with the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA). He holds a bachelor’s degree in Physiotherapy from Latrobe university (Melbourne, Australia) and a master’s degree in Exercise Science (Strength and Conditioning) from Edith Cowan University (Perth, Australia).

A 3rd Dan black belt in Shinkyokushinkai Karate under the World Karate Organisation (WKO), Sam participated for over 20 years in full contact competition, winning multiple state and national titles, and culminating in a 4th place in the heavyweight division of the Shinkyokushinkai World Cup in 2009.

As the co-founder and clinical director of Club 360, the premier multi-disciplinary health and fitness center in Tokyo, Japan, Sam has combined his practical experience with an in-depth study of sports performance in relation to combat sports, and strives to help other combat athletes reach their full competitive potential, whilst at the same time decreasing injury risk and increasing competition and training potential.

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