Caffeine—An Equal Opportunity Ergogenic Aid

Does caffeine boost men and women equally?

By Shirley Archer, JD, MA
Sep 23, 2019

Caffeine is known to increase performance when taken before endurance activities, but more than 80% of studies have focused on men. A recent randomized, double-blind, crossover study out of Queensland, Australia, aimed to determine whether or not gender affects ergogenic responses to caffeine.

Researchers conducted the study with 27 adult endurance-trained male and female cyclists and triathletes, all of whom took either a placebo or a caffeine capsule (3 milligrams per kilogram of body mass) 90 minutes before a performance time trial. Every subject completed an exercise test to exhaustion, two familiarization trials and two performance trials.

Data analysis showed that caffeine, when compared with a placebo, improved performance by approximately 4% in both men and women. In spite of this, subjects reported no difference in rating of perceived exertion between the two protocols. Following the exercise, women experienced much higher plasma caffeine concentrations than men, with similar gains.

Study authors concluded that current recommendations for caffeine intake (3-6 mg/kg/BM) before exercise—with a goal of enhancing endurance performance—is equally applicable to men and women. The study is available in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise (2019; 51 [6], 1195–1202).


Shirley Archer, JD, MA

Shirley Archer, JD, MA, is the 2008 IDEA Fitness Instructor of the Year and is IDEA's mind-body-spirit spokesperson. She is a certified yoga and Pilates teacher and an award-winning author based in Los Angeles, California, and Zurich, Switzerland. Two of her books, The Walking Deck and The Strength and Toning Deck, are now featured as iPhone apps. Contact her at

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