If you have finally found a routine for getting the CDC-recommended 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise every week, you might be looking to set new goals around weight loss, muscle gain, or flexibility and improved function.
This doesn’t necessarily mean you need to drastically change your regular workout. In fact, small incremental changes can have a bigger impact than you might think. You simply need to know what to do to get the most bang for your workout buck.
Don’t miss this essential guide with 8 research-backed tips for maximizing your workout:
Listen to Music
The links between listening to music and exercise are plentiful. For one, music has been shown to increase the duration of exercise in both men and women. Music is both distracting and a great stress reliever which researchers believe may help people respond differently to their perception of the effort they are putting into intense exercise. A loud, thumping rhythm also allows you to synchronize your movements with music, i.e. pedaling a stationary bicycle to the beat. This can boost your mood and sense of focus and alertness as you keep time with the music.
Bring a Buddy
A workout partner doesn’t just hold you accountable for showing up; they can also be your impetus to work harder and longer. Their encouragement combined with their very presence exercising beside you can actually reduce your perception of how much effort you are putting into each set or repetition. The innate competition that comes with comparing yourself to other humans around you can also drive you to commit more fervently to the physical activity to prove to both them and yourself that you can do better.
Get Better Sleep
Your sleeping hours play an important role in how well your body rebuilds bone and soft tissue, like your muscles. The signaling of hormones, like testosterone, that help trigger the various biological processes which contribute to soft tissue repair happens largely in your sleep. Lack of sleep can also leave you groggy, irritated, and less motivated to work out on a regular schedule. This and other common muscle-building mistakes will ultimately make it harder to lose fat, generate muscle, and stay healthy so keep a regular bedtime and aim for 7 to 9 hours a night.
It’s not just about what you eat during the day that can help you maximize the effects of your workout but when too. For example, consuming high-glycemic carbohydrates prior to a workout can give your body the fuel it needs to increase the intensity and duration of your exercise. Following up a workout with a 3:1 carb to protein snack within one to two hours can also potentially speed up muscle recovery. A protein-rich snack before bed has also been shown to boost protein synthesis while you are sleeping.
Drink More Water
Healthy hydration before, during, and after exercise allows your body to sufficiently replenish fluids that are lost through sweating. Drinking lots of water also enhances the volume of your blood, helping it to flow more readily through your circulatory system and both flush out built-up waste byproducts (like lactic acid) as well as deliver critical nutrients to aid tissue recovery and bone remodeling.
Support Your Joints
While your muscle tissue experiences microdamage during exercise, prolonged high-impact activity can also lead to wear and tear of your joints. Joints don’t always have the regenerative capacity that other musculoskeletal components do though. It’s important that you protect the cartilage, bones, tendons, and ligaments supporting your joints with simple measures like wearing compression sleeves, cross-training with low-impact activities like yoga or swimming, and stretching before and after exercise.
A growing body of evidence is continuing to shine a light on the incredible effects high-intensity interval training has on the body’s metabolic processing. Not only do intense spurts of movements like sprinting, lunges, mountain climbers, and plyometric jump squats help increase calorie loss, but it can also improve your VO2 max, neuromuscular efficiency, stamina, endurance, and metabolism.
Don’t Skip Strength-training
A daily run or brisk walk is a great way to get the cardio exercise your circulatory system and heart need to stay healthy, however, regular strength-training is just as impactful. The tissue that comprises your muscles burns more calories per minute than the tissue that makes up your fat. Muscle is also denser than fat which means the more of it you have, the less space it takes up. On top of increased calorie burn and a leaner physique, strength-training also helps combat age-related muscle loss which starts to speed up after you turn 30.
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