The Effect of Ephedra and Caffeine on Maximal Strength and Power in Resistance-Trained Athletes

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Abstract

Caffeine and ephedrine-related alkaloids recently have been removed from International Olympic Committee banned substances lists, whereas ephedrine itself is now permissible at urinary concentrations less than 10 μg·mL−1. The changes to the list may contribute to an increased use of caffeine and ephedra as ergogenic aids by athletes. Consequently, we sought to investigate the effects of ingesting caffeine (C) or a combination of ephedra and caffeine (C + E) on muscular strength and anaerobic power using a double-blind, crossover design. Forty-five minutes after ingesting a glucose placebo (P: 300 mg), C (300 mg) or C + E (300 mg + 60 mg), 9 resistance-trained male participants were tested for maximal strength by bench press [BP; 1 repetition maximum (1RM)] and latissimus dorsi pull down (LP; 1RM). Subjects also performed repeated repetitions at 80% of 1RM on both BP and LP until exhaustion. After this test, subjects underwent a 30-second Wingate test to determine peak anaerobic cycling power, mean power, and fatigue index. Although subjects reported increased alertness and enhanced mood after supplementation with caffeine and ephedra, there were no significant differences between any of the treatments in muscle strength, muscle endurance, or peak anaerobic power. Our results do not support the contention that supplementation with ephedra or caffeine will enhance either muscle strength or anaerobic exercise performance.

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