Case study: dose response of caffeine improves on 20 km handcycling time trial performance in a Paratriathlete

Caffeine’s ability to influence upper-body exercise (UBE) endurance performance may be related to an individual’s training status. This case study therefore aimed to investigate the ergogenic effects of caffeine dose on 20 km time trial (TT) performance of an elite male Para-triathlete (wheelchair user) (age 46 y, body mass 76.9 kg, body fat 25.4%, handcycling ·VO2 peak 3.45 l∙min-1). The athlete completed four 20 km handcycling TT’s on a Cyclus II ergometer under laboratory controlled conditions following the ingestion of 2, 4 and 6 mg·kg-1 caffeine (CAF) or placebo (PLA). Blood lactate concentration [Bla], power output (PO), arousal and ratings of perceived exertion (RPE) were recorded. Ingestion of 2, 4 and 6 mg·kg-1 CAF resulted in TT times which were 2, 1.5 and 2.7% faster than PLA (37:40 min:sec). The participant’s [Bla] increased throughout all trials and was greater during CAF compared to PLA. There were no obvious differences in RPE between trials despite different performance times. Baseline arousal scores differed between PLA and 4 mg·kg-1 (‘1-low’), and 2 and 6 mg·kg-1 (‘3-moderate’). Arousal increased at each time-point following the ingestion of 4 and 6 mg·kg-1. The largest CAF dose resulted in a positive pacing strategy, which when combined with an end spurt resulted in the fastest TT. Caffeine improved 20 km TT performance of an elite male Para-triathlete, which may be related to greater arousal and an increased PO for a given RPE.