Issue #6


by HardFitness

2005 Chicago Jr. Nationals Contest Coverage

2005 Chicago Jr. Nationals Review
by HardFitness

Tanning Video, Part 3 by Shelly Leversage

Can Caffeine Make You Stronger?
by Allison Jones

Video Interview: Randi Post

Training for the Emerald Cup and Interview
by Karen Patten

First National Show Experience: Taking 2nd Class A at Jr. Nationals
by Alex Galvez

Muscularity by Shelly Pinkerton

My Journey to Turning Pro
by Amy Peters

20 Questions with our Cover Model by Andrea Giacomi

Video Interview: Andrea Giacomi HardFitness Sponsored Athlete

Video Interview: Breean Loepp

Fitness Competitors: Help Prevent Injuries
by Kristi Wills

Interview with Traci Redding, a pro physique, competing in the amateur division

Andrea Giacomi, Monica Guerra, Shelly Pinkerton, Traci Saba and Zhanna Rotar

Video Interview: Jodi Miller speaks up

Video Interview: Sarah Dunlap about Female Bodybuilding

Jr. Nationals Experience by Andrea Giacomi

Video Interview: Nikki Warner

Motivation: It is no Myth
by Jodi Leigh Miller


Can Caffeine Make You Stronger?
The effects of caffeine as nutritional supplement to weight training

By Allison Jones CPT, Figure Athlete and Fitness Model

I have found that much of what people find fascinating with Figure, Fitness and Body Building athletes is our dedication to the sport, our will power and the mental focus we have to stay on track and push through all the strict dieting and intense training.
However, when the stage curtains come to a close and the photographers replace their lens caps. Long after the Pro Tan has washed off and the fans go home many athletes may find it hard to gather the energy it takes to maintain the momentum and the motivation to train.

After spending countless hours at the gym, shopping for, cooking and preparing all of my meals for the next few days and practicing my posing I am often left feeling fatigued and stressed. Where most people would turn to comfort foods or a few drinks the physique athlete is left with Sweet potatoes, chicken breast, broccoli and water. However, even those foods are timed and weighed out! So what do I do? When I am feeling tired, unmotivated or maybe just in search of a treat I turn to the wonderful world of COFFEE!
Caffeine, one of the best researched nutritional supplements is a wildly popular ergogenic aid. Although caffeine has been on the International Olympic Committee’s list of banned substances for quite a while it has been proven to have no adverse effects when used in moderation.

Caffeine is and alkaloid found in coffee, tea and some medications which increases serum levels of epinephrine. Chemically, it is a stimulant and a member of a class of drugs known as Methylxanthines. After ingestion, caffeine is absorbed into the blood and other body tissues within 5 minutes and peak concentration is reached in about half an hour. The half life is approximately 4 hours. (, Graham & Spriet, 1996)

Since I don't drink soda or eat chocolate the caffeine I ingest is found in my coffee. When I wake up the first thing I do is turn my coffee pot on. By the time I am done brushing my teeth and washing my face I'm ready to drink my first cup. After my morning coffee I'm off for my first round of cardio which is either a morning run or various cardio machines at the gym. Sometimes about 30-45 min before I weight train I will also drink some java. Sometimes, I have the cup right next to my gallon of water under the bench while I train.

The makers of supplements containing caffeine found in pill and powder form claim their product will do the following:

* Improve athletic performance,
* Increase energy
* Delay fatigue
* Improve fat burning
* Spare muscle glycogen
* Enhance body fat loss.

I firmly believe that my nutrition coupled with my weight training is the ultimate tool for shaping and conditioning my physique. Without the proper nutrition plan to support your training and your goals the caffeine you ingest won’t effect your physique. However, I can’t fight the overwhelming proof that caffeine helps deliver the energy necessary for a kick-butt work out !

A recent study conducted by researchers at the University of Georgia has found evidence that caffeine taken prior to exercise can lessen the muscle pain experienced during intense exercise. The study , published in the Journal of Pain, found that caffeine taken one hour before exercise reduced pain and that a small dosage of 3-9mg/kg was enough to improve overall endurance and delay fatigue significantly. This increased training time by 20-50%. The magnitude of how caffeine effects the individual athlete varies depending on the type and intensity of the exercise, the greatest effect seen is when exercising for 30 to 120 minutes. continuously.(

So how much caffeine should you have before working out? Everyone knows this legal stimulant comes in tall, grande, venti, supersize, biggie and monster. Therefore, the dosage depends on the product. The recommenced dosage is 2-3 regular cups of coffee (not caffeine enriched java from places like Starbucks). Since I am a frequent coffee drinker my tolerance for the effects of caffeine is quite high. Sometimes I will run upstairs from my gym to the starbucks and grab a tall or grande coffee. For more infrequent users it is recommenced that they start out using small amounts like 1.5mg/kg to see how they will react. I make sure to keep my water intake high since caffeine is a powerful diuretic and vasoconstrictor ( which increases water loss and blood pressure respectively). They should NEVER be used in conjunction with other substances such as ephedrine (found in Mau-Hung and Gin-Singh) because of their ability to over excite your Central Nervous System and cause vasoconstriction, which can lead to cardiac arrest.
Many people claim it helps them stay slim or even burns their fat. The reason this is party true and party false is because the actual caffeine isn't what's ‘burning’ your fat, its just making the fat available for burning. It increases lipolytic activity (fat breakdown) of the adipocyte (fat cell) which increases the free fatty acids (FFA) available to be oxidized or burned for energy production. When there more FFA's available your muscle glycogen is spared. This is a benefit to anyone looking to lose weight or fat mass because it will allow you to train for a longer period of time. This equates to more calories being burned as well as increased basal energy expenditure and numerous hormonal and physiologic benefits. (McArdle, Exercise Physiology 4th ed.1996)
Therefore the claims that supplement companies make are partially true. Caffeine can improve your performance by increasing the energy available and then delaying fatigue after you are done but it won’t ‘make you stronger’. It provides the illusion that you are stronger because you have more energy. This may not be a bad thing, in fact it may be just what you need to pull you through.

Some of my clients and members at my gym ask me how I find the energy to train day in and day out, how I recover quickly enough to do two cardio sessions and weight train in one day or how I'm even walking the day after a leg workout. I think I have found the culprit! My java helps me on those days I need a little push, it makes me feel like I can do anything with those weights and allows me to continue through my workout to the very end. I don't know if it really works or is a placebo effect but I do know that it works for me! Raise your cups, eat clean and train hard! If you are interested to learn more about Caffeine as a nutritional supplement or more tips on training and nutrition log on to my website or email me at

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About the Author...

Allison Jones recently competed at the Jr. USA's and will be competing once more at Team Universe Figure Nationals in August. She brings a solid package and will be a competitor to look for in 2005.

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