A Coffee Shot before Sports. Rowing with caffeine


We received an email from Kunda from Sydney.

We will soon be moving our ladies crew training’s into the morning hours. Question: I never leave the house without drinking an espresso with sugar. I am rowing with caffeine in my blood. Can this hurt me during training?

Dear Kunda, a coffee shot before rowing is generally not a bad thing. An infusion of caffeine before sports can help. Why? Coffee should increase the performance in a natural way. But is that really true? In a sports magazine, we found a lot of facts:  Coffee-Facts


Rowing with Caffeine: Effect of Coffee

Coffee at the rowing dock

Rowing with Caffeine can help. The effect of coffee or tea comes from the active ingredient “caffeine”. The caffeine in your stomach stimulates the nervous system: It stimulates the production of norepinephrine in the brain and thus has a performance-enhancing effect. This is especially beneficial after a short night or a low in performance after lunch. So if you have 30 minutes from home to the boat house –  perfect: The coffee effect starts about 30 minutes after drinking.

Effect on rowing training

The International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism has published a study on coffee as a natural booster.


  • Significant improvements in athletic endurance
  • Trainings are perceived as less intense,
  • breathing is perceived as “easy”
  • But: If Caffeine has a positive effect on muscle strength – this answer is still not cleared.

Rowing with Caffeine

Rowing with Caffeine: What does that mean now?

How many cups of coffee should it be? Before training, an espresso is enough to increase your performance. I noticed by myself, that more than two cups are not good for my body during rowing. I usually eat a piece of plain  bread in the morning in order to protect my stomach against the coffee acid. A habit. I do not know if that works.

Before my afternoon or evening workouts I once in a while take some caffeine activators like this one here in the shop.

Dear Kunda, I hope this info helps: Coffee before rowing can be positive. Especially if you drink a cup of coffee half an hour before training.

In summary, I guess one can say:

  • coffee and the intake of caffeine stimulates the production of the hormone norepinephrine,
  • your senses are sharpened and it keeps you awake.
  • You feel energetic from stroke 1.
  • The intake of caffeine boosts the fat metabolism. Rowers can thus conserve their valuable glycogen reserves in the muscles and the liver for longer and optimize their fat burning.
  • The consumption of caffeine leads to an improved oxygen intake because it relaxes the respiratory muscles. The consumption of coffee can relieve muscle pain after exercise.
  • Coffee is rich in antioxidants and protects Non-inflammatory effects on the body.
  • Does coffee enhance your endurance?

Negative effects of coffee before exercise

Not every body can tolerate coffee before physical exertion. Every athlete should evaluate the number of cups of coffee. Too much coffee irritates the mucous membranes.

  • Anyone who drinks coffee before the morning exercise should take into account that caffeine activates the intestinal flora. For the sensitive, toilet flushes need to be planned.
  • After consuming caffeine, blood flow to the heart can go down by as much as 22 percent.
  • Consuming caffeine reduces the body’s iron-absorption capacity. Iron is needed for blood formation, a low iron level has a negative effect on the endurance performance.

A cup is perfect for me. I cannot imagine 3-4 cups before rowing.

Coffee and doping

WADA, the world anti-doping agency, introduced caffeine to the list of banned substances until 2004. Coffee, or rather caffeine, is no longer considered a drug.

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This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. James Hodson

    Is there a link for the paper by International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism since I’d be quite interested to read it.

  2. Albert Willem Knop

    My experience is that it is after a cup of coffee my HR rises easier then without coffee. This does not mean the HR is higher with the same training intensity, but is is a bit easier to train with higher intensities without the notion you are doing more.

    1. Bryan

      Dear Albert, thank you for your note.
      When consumed in moderate doses (no more than 200 mg, or about 1-2 6-oz cups of coffee), caffeine can help people feel more alert and less sleepy. Most individuals consuming moderate amounts will experience few, if any, negative side effects. But you are right: Spec. when your doses will be high, caffeine may increase heart rate, body temperature, blood flow to the skin & extremities, blood pressure, blood sugar levels, stomach acid secretion and production of urine (diuretic). So let’s not overdo it with the espressos.

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