Coffee and Climbing (Does Caffeine Make You Climb Harder?)

caffeine and climbingThere are 3 main ingredients to climbing hard:

  • Caffeine
  • Adrenaline
  • Obsession

Out of these 3 ingredients, one requires extreme emotion and determination (Obsession), and one is a chemical that our adrenal glands release as a primal survival instinct (Adrenaline).

Luckily for us, the third component can be consumed in a warm cup of coffee in the morning, you guessed it Caffeine.

So does having a morning Cup of Joe really make a difference in your climbing performance? Let’s find out!

Climber’s and Coffee (a brief “history”)

Ever since the dawn of climbing (or time as most people call it), coffee has been a mainstay in many climbers diets. Coffee has been around since the 15th century and is one of the most common drinks in the world.

Until recently coffee has been mainly used by office workers to stay awake while dealing with the daily grind of 8-10 hours a day inside, slaving away for the MAN.

Climber CoffeeThanks to a young and unruly group of individuals that flocked to Yosemite National Park back in the early part of the 1960’s, coffee got its first encounter with the modern day climber. A staple of the dirtbags diet, coffee was used to start the day and make the canned cat food go down easier. This was the era of the true dirtbag, a pure thinking human whose one purpose was to climb.

Fast Foward to the today, climbers have changed drastically and so has their relationship with coffee. Coffee is “trendy” now and often costs over $5 a cup from premium shops and roasters. With Twitter feeds filled with coffee meme it seems like coffee has gone viral.

Although this is very different from our dirtbag roots, some climbers have married the two eras together and benefited greatly. The most famous being Carabiner Coffee. You may have seen Erik before in this rad van Ol’ Blue that doubles as a storefront to sell coffee to the masses at whatever crag he ends up at. Our coffee loving dirtbag ancestors would be happy knowing that coffee is still something that goes hand and hand with climbing.

The tale of coffee and climbing is older than nylon ropes, rubber shoes, and steel. It is one that has deep meaning and an almost spiritual nature, but most of all it has caffeine!

Coffee Benefits (Physical)

Coffee is known to have an ergogenic effect. Another words coffee is known to enhance physical performance, especially related to sports.

Coffee sports

This effect is more obvious when participating in endurance activities, so rope climbers may get a greater effect from it. This is done by increase vascular flow making it easier for blood to get to your muscles.

Coffee is also associated with decreased muscle pain and reducing the dreaded “pump” we are all too familiar with. With the increase in blood flow, your muscles will recover faster and be able to sustain longer.

Maybe the most obvious physical benefit of coffee is the increase in energy. Caffeine puts our bodies into overdrive. We start to produce more energy and pump more blood to our muscles and organs. This overdrive effect makes us feel like we can take on the world, or this route.

Coffee Benefits (Physiological)

Coffee to Climbers is more of a ritual than just an ordinary morning beverage. Getting up on a cold morning trying to get the send temps is that much easier with a hot cup of coffee.

climber coffeeThis simplest and most basic way of putting it is that coffee makes us get up and going. If you are feeling sore and tired what do you do? Simple, make some coffee. It ensures you will be feeling good and ready to brutally abuse your body in this crazy sport we call climbing.

From a more scientific lens, caffeine increases the dopamine (couldn’t help it…) levels in your brain, making everything feel better and elevating your mood.

So next time you feel like you’ve been beaten with a pillowcase filled with soap bars in the middle of the night, make sure you get an extra cup of coffee or two.

Wrapping it up

So does it work? Does it make you better, faster, strong?

The simple answer is yes, although it won’t produce any miracles.

Most importantly, enjoy it.

The best coffee has nothing to do with the beans or the brewing, it all has to do with the place you are and the people you are with.

Keep Crushing!

Owner and Operator of Every Last Rock. He is dedicated to spreading the Stoke about all things climbing. Often found Bouldering around the US and obsessively training.

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