How Coffee Can Help You Want to Work Out

Photographed by Julia Stotz.
Coffee may be a basic life force for most of us, and it may even help prevent major illnesses, but does it do any good when it comes to fitness? It might, if an editorial on the usefulness of pre-workout caffeine "doping" published in Sports Medicine is to be believed. Related: How Much Coffee Is Too Much?
According to the paper's author, Samuele Marcora, PhD, the energy boost we get from caffeine has a powerful motivating effect. Not only are we able to power through our workouts because we're physically stimulated — the caffeine may also make us more likely to want to exercise in the first place (which is more than half the battle, let's be honest). In order to encourage people to commit to exercise, "we need to find ways to significantly reduce perception of effort and discomfort...without reducing exercise intensity and/or exercise duration," he writes. Caffeine is an obvious solution for this goal. Several previous studies have linked it to improving performance while still making the effort feel easier. Plus, it's already our perfectly safe and legal drug of choice. So next time you're really having trouble choosing gym time over Netflix, maybe stop for a latte and see how you feel. The energy boost might help sway you, especially if you know that it could even make that next hour of HIIT, spinning, or circuits feel easier. (How's that for motivation?)
Of course, coffee isn't the only source of caffeine out there. If you'd prefer to get your boost from another source, remember to take it easy — exceeding 100 mg of caffeine beforehand can backfire by making you feel lightheaded or weak. And be wary of energy drinks, which often do more harm than good. Click through to Shape for more tips on getting the most out of your workout. (Shape) Related: How To Clean Your Coffee Grinder In 60 Seconds Flat

More from Fitness

R29 Original Series