We’ve previously looked at caffeine at some length and have come to the conclusion that it’s awesome!
We know that caffeine is found in coffee, tablets and pre workouts and taking it ~45 mins before exercise works pretty well. Caffeine gum however has much faster absorption rates and can work in 5-15 mins. Therefore, could be pretty sweet as a half time strategy. Annoyingly, the results from caffeine gum is pretty limited so far, especially for rugby players.
Russell et al (2017) looked into this with 14 pro academy players where they did one battery of testing, chewed either a caffeine gum (400mg) or a placebo for 5 mins before doing their second battery of testing. In short, sprint performance, reaction time, blood lactate and cortisol remained unchanged. However, testosterone went up by 70%…Which is kinda weird, but interesting.
Having elevated testosterone can improve arousal and motivation which could be pretty useful attributes when playing rugby, especially when your opponents are starting to switch off 2nd half. So, under a testing scenario, caffeine gum doesn’t work, but in a game setting, there could be some hope. In football specific drills, half the dose (200mg) was shown to improve running performance and jump height by 2% and 2.2% respectively. By all means, this isn’t a huge improvement, but it’s something.
Lastly, 300mg of caffeine gum can improve cycling performances and delayed fatigue during repeated cycling sprints. So, even though caffeine gum doesn’t have a direct effect on performance in rugby players during training, it has the potential to during games with the potential to improve performance in other settings.
With minimal drawbacks, I would definitely consider it (I do with my athletes) as something they can add to their tool box. Just test this in training first, especially if you’re having a large dose of caffeine pre game as the two doses close together may kick you in the ass and tip you over the edge. Sad.
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