7 Quick Fixes for a Better Workout

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7 Quick Fixes for a Better Workout

Got a minute? 60 seconds might be all you need to improve your workout.

If it sounds too good to be true, consider this: Research published in the journal PLOS One found that one minute of vigorous exercise was just as effective for improving health as 45 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise.

The effect of brief, high-intensity bursts of exercise is just one example of how you can improve your workout in less time than it takes to drink a cup of coffee. Here are seven more quick hacks to amp up your sweat sessions.

1. TURN UP THE MUSIC

Whether you do cycling sprints to Beyoncé or power walk to Justin Timberlake, exercising with a playlist will make you push harder and feel better about the workout, according to a study published in the journal Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise.

“Putting some good tunes on your playlist is a perfect way to keep yourself motivated,” says Jessica Matthews, certified personal trainer and senior advisor for health and fitness education for the American Council on Exercise.

Matthews recommends choosing upbeat songs when you want to increase the intensity of your workout. Songs between 147–169 beats per minute — Bruce Springsteen’s “Born to Run” and “Bad Blood” by Taylor Swift both fit the bill — will help you pick up the pace. Check jog.fm to find out the tempo of your favorite workout music.

2. DRINK A CUP OF COFFEE

A study published in the International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism found that drinking caffeine before a workout helped burn 15% more calories for three hours after exercise.

To experience the benefits, researchers suggest drinking 4.5 mg of caffeine per kilogram of body weight (about 12 ounces of coffee for a 150-pound woman).

3. ADD VARIETY

Do you head straight for the treadmill? Tom Holland, exercise physiologist and author of “Beat the Gym” suggests doing your cardio workout on a stationary bike, rowing machine or elliptical trainer instead.

“Your workout is probably like Groundhog Day, because you do the same things over and over,” he says. “Mixing it up is a simple way to trick your body and get better results.”

It works for strength training, too. In 2015, researchers at East Tennessee State University found that exercisers who did both deep and full squats had better fitness gains than those who only did deep squats. Doing multiple variations of an exercise recruits different muscle groups, leading to better results.

4. TWEAK THE TEMPO

In addition to switching up moves and machines, Matthews advises changing the tempo of your reps during strength training.

Researchers at the University of Sydney found that slow repetitions were better for overall muscle mass increases, while fast repetitions were more effective for building strength. Mixing up fast and slow repetitions in your workout can help build strength and definition.

“If currently you’re taking one count to lift the weight and one count to lower the weight, try lifting the weight for a count of one and lower the weight for a count of three,” Matthews says.

5. RECALL A PAST SUCCESS

Remember how great it felt to cross the finish line of your first 5K? Think about that when you need motivation to exercise, and, according to a study published in the journal Memory, you’ll be more likely to hit the gym.

6. USE YOUR FEET

You don’t have to take up barefoot running to experience the benefits of kicking off your kicks during your workout.

“Some shoes are too supportive,” Holland says.

Take off your shoes for balance exercises like one-legged squats or moves on a BOSU. This simple shift, Holland believes, will help you feel more connected to your body and you deeper into the move.

7. RETIE YOUR SHOELACES

When your toes feel constricted or your heels are slipping out of your sneakers, you may be tempted to cut your workout short. Trying a different lacing pattern could solve the problem. Use a traditional cross-over lace to keep heels feeling snug or parallel lacing relieves pressure on the arch.

Even in shoes that fit properly, Holland says, “It’s a small tweak that can make a difference.”

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