Send to

Choose Destination
Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2016 Feb;48(2):287-96. doi: 10.1249/MSS.0000000000000767.

Muscle Pain as a Regulator of Cycling Intensity: Effect of Caffeine Ingestion.

Author information

Department of Health and Exercise Science, University of Oklahoma, Norman, OK.


Caffeine ingestion improves endurance time trial performance. However, the ergogenic mechanism of action remains unresolved. One potential explanation for caffeine's performance-enhancing effect is an improvement in work for a given amount of muscle pain.


To test this hypothesis, participants performed two studies in which they regulated exercise intensity based on feelings of muscle pain.


Thirteen young men were asked to regulate exercise intensity based on feelings of "moderate" muscle pain (a "3" on a 0-10 pain scale). After three familiarization trials, either caffeine (∼ 5 mg · kg(-1) body weight) or placebo were administered before a moderate pain trial. Nine caffeine "responders" were retested and ask to regulate their exercise intensity at a "strong" pain level (a "5" on a 0-10 pain scale). A caffeine (∼ 5 mg · kg(-1) body weight) or placebo was again ingested before exercise.


Participants performed more work (P = 0.008) and covered more distance (P = 0.008) at a higher average power output (P = 0.009) and VO2 (P = 0.019), for an identical amount of "moderate" muscle pain in the caffeine condition. When exercising at a rating of a "5," caffeine did not increase total work, distance covered, or VO2 for an identical amount of "strong" pain in the nine caffeine "responders."


Our findings indicate caffeine increases work performed during exercise, eliciting a moderate amount of a pain. However, a threshold level of muscle pain may exist above which antagonism of adenosine receptors alone does not induce a hypoalgesic effect.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Wolters Kluwer
Loading ...
Support Center