An online article in the Journal of Sports Science and Medicine by Wu and Lin (vol 9, pp 262-269, 2010) indicates that going heavy on the caffeine before resistance training may be counterproductive.
Ten men performed a workout consisting of 3 sets of 8 exercises. Each set consisted of 10 repetitions of 75% of the weight that could be lifted only once. On one day, the workout was performed an hour after caffeine ingestion and on another day an hour after ingesting a non-caffeinated placebo. The amount of caffeine was 6 mg/kg or about 475 mg for a 175 lb man. That’s about the amount of caffeine in one-and-a-half 16 oz Starbucks Grande coffees or four-and-a-half 8 oz cups of home-brewed coffee. Blood was analyzed at various times for levels of insulin, testosterone, cortisol, growth hormone, glucose, free fatty acid and lactic acid.
As has been observed in previous studies, blood levels of free fatty acids were higher in those who ingested caffeine than in those who did not. That is why caffeine is considered an ergogenic aid (performance enhancer) for endurance sports. Long distance runners often take in caffeine to promote the burning of fats in preference to carbohydrates, allowing the limited store of carbohydrates in the muscle and liver to last longer, sparing the athlete from “hitting the wall’ later in the race.
A result not noted in previous studies was that blood concentration of human growth hormone (HGH) was significantly lower when the subjects had previously ingested caffeine than when they hadn‘t. Since HGH is a muscle-building hormone, caffeine ingestion prior to resistance training can be considered counterproductive.
There were no significant differences in blood levels of insulin, testosterone and cortisol between caffeine and no-caffeine conditions.
It appears prudent to avoid caffeine consumption for at least 3 hours prior to a resistance training session in order to maximize results. Since the time it take for the body to rid itself of half of ingested caffeine is approximately 5 hours in healthy adults, then excessive caffeine consumption is not recommended, even several hours before a workout.