Every day were inundated with more and more studies claiming to have found the best new way to exercise. There is such a constant stream of information, it can be difficult to keep track of what truly is the most effective to maximize your workouts.
The truth is, as long as you're moving your body every day you're doing the right thing! However, if you are ready to step your daily workouts up a notch we have some additional tips that will get you there.
The Top 10 Best Workout Tips
Wait, aren't carbs the enemy? Not when it comes to fueling your workouts to the extreme! The trick is to choose more effective slow-digesting carbohydrates, that will burn fast but for longer. Think along the lines of oatmeal, buckwheat, whole grain bread, sweet potatoes, or fruit. Added bonus: one study out of Loughborough University (UK) found that athletes that consumed these types of carbs actually burned more fat throughout the day.
Limit workout times.
It turns out that putting in an hour or more at the gym doesn't necessarily benefit you any more than exercising for just 30-40 minutes. The issue is intensity level, as you're more likely to exercise at a lower level for a longer sustained amount of time. So keep 'em shorter at the high intensity and ramp it up!
Munch on greens before exercising.
Researchers at the University of Maryland found that athletes who included a green salad with a high-fat meal increased blood flow, allowing for more efficient oxygen usage during their workouts. Tack on some extra greens with your food a couple of hours before hitting the gym.
This is probably our favorite workout tip ever. Consuming a small amount of caffeine (200-400 mg, or about 2 cups of coffee) helps increase endurance and reduce muscle pain during workouts.
Only lift to failure on one set.
You've probably heard that working to complete muscle exhaustion when lifting weights is what builds strength. However, that doesn't seem to be the case all the time. Lifting until muscle failure really only helps when it is done with one set, rather than all sets - so doing a little less will actually do more for helping build muscle.
Training with friends actually helps!
Being surrounded by a group of people (whether you're aware you want to impress them or not), will cause you to work harder. Studies have shown that when surrounded by multiple people, trained lifters performed better than if they had been lifting in front of just one. So buddy up!
Don't warm up with cardio.
It may seem like a good idea to get in a run and warm up those muscles before doing your squats. But researchers from Japan found that subjects that lifted first then left the cardio exercise until afterwards actually increased the effectiveness of both workouts. Leave that cardiovascular activity until after the weights, or do it on a different day altogether.
Find workouts you actually enjoy doing.
Activities like jogging or Crossfit aren't for everyone. Luckily, there are plenty of activities that count as a workout that you won't absolutely dread - but instead enjoy doing. Find something that is fun so that you will look forward to it every day.
Keep your mind focused.
Rather than letting your mind wander, work on staying present with the exercise you're doing. For example, if you are doing bicep curls, focus on your bicep muscle. If doing squats, focus on your glutes and hips. Researchers in England found that when subjects mentally pictured the area they were working, the muscles showed more activity.
Drink more tea.
Another deliciously surprising tip, drinking more tea can boost the quality of your workouts! Consuming tea helps lower cortisol levels, the hormone linked to stress. Since exercise causes stress on the body naturally and raises those levels, drinking tea outside of workouts helps you (and your muscles) gain maximum value from times of rest.
[Credit: Dr. Jim Stoppani, PH.D. 25 Ways to Improve Your Workout. Muscle & Fitness.]
[Credit: Babauta, Leo. 16 Tips to Triple Your Workout Effectiveness. Zen Habits.]