So, why do people follow and believe in those workout tips if they aren’t guaranteed to work? The same reasons people follow a fad diet—they saw it work for a friend or they hope it works for them. In this article, let’s end all the “I hope it works!” and the, “My friend said to do this!” and I’ll bring you actual tips proven by science.
Here are 15 science-backed workout tips to jumpstart weight loss.
1. Bring a Friend
A common complaint people have when they begin a fitness journey is that they have no one to workout with. But those complaints line up with the research. Several studies on motivation and exercise have shown that when you have the presence of a friend, you workout out harder.((PubMed.gov: Influence of competition on performance and pacing during cycling exercise))
When your partner is stronger, your performance boosts. Your workouts become easier too. So, the next time you find yourself struggling to hold that one-minute plank or you want to run that extra mile, call a friend.
2. Carb Up Before You Workout
You might have heard people and even fitness gurus say to skip out on a meal before a workout. Some even recommend that you avoid carbs unless you’re doing specific exercises like running or weightlifting.
Each one has their own reasons why you shouldn’t eat. Unfortunately, you’ve been misled. Research supports the opposite of skipping meals. Before you perform any workout, you want to carb up. Carbs are your body’s primary fuel.((PubMed.gov: The use of carbohydrates during exercise as an ergogenic aid))
When you load up, you’ll put more of an effort in and it does wonders for muscle growth and caloric expenditure. Those who work out in the morning but hate breakfast can opt for something like toast or oatmeal.
3. Music Powers Your Workout
Everyone has their set playlist with their favorite workout songs. You may like to jam out to heavy rock or pop music and feel like it helps your workout. You’re not wrong! Several studies have been conducted on the power of music.
One study found that those who listened to music had higher levels of serotonin and dopamine, which aids in the recovery process.((PubMed.gov: Effect of different musical tempo on post-exercise recovery in young adults)) Another study found that the type of music you listen to matters. This study showed that music levels of 130 to 140 bpm gave people a performance boost.((NCBI: Effect of music tempo on exercise performance and heart rate among young adults)) So, stick to the more heart-pumping songs over the slow, sad ones.
4.Drink Coffee and Chocolate Milk
When many start a diet, they usually have to give up some of their favorite foods and drinks. Coffee is often loaded with extra calories when you add the cream, sugar, or if you’re going to a chain shop. Provided you don’t go overboard with the extras, coffee can help your workout. This is a workout tip that’s rarely given, but it can work!
A study found that coffee not only provides energy but also gives you motivation and can increase your performance.((American Physiological Society: Caffeine consumption around an exercise bout: effects on energy expenditure, energy intake, and exercise enjoyment)) Another study on coffee and workouts found that drinking a few cups before a workout can make it more enjoyable. Another research also found that it helps burn more fat.
As a child, your mother may have told you to drink your milk. Chocolate milk might’ve been a treat. It turns out your mom was on to something. A study found that consumption of low-fat chocolate milk after workouts aided in recovery like commercial recovery beverages did.((PubMed.gov: Chocolate milk: a post-exercise recovery beverage for endurance sports)) The 4:1 carb to protein ratio helps stimulate muscle repair and energy repletion.
5. Water Is Key
Just about any diet or exercise tip includes drinking water. Water is one of the best beverages you can have for rehydration, and it’s free! The intensity of your workout will depend on how much water your body loses. How much you sweat affects it as well.
But why does water matter? Let’s take a closer look.
Most of our body is made up of water. It’s not a surprise that you require a lot of it—and even more when you work out. Many people show to the gym already dehydrated, then workout and become even more dehydrated. This can cause quite a bit of negative effects. Your workout can become harder, you could suffer performance issues, and take a longer time to recover after it.((NCBI: Water, Hydration and Health))
Just 2% of water weight loss can cause this. Some people lose about 6 to 10% from a single workout. It’s recommended to drink at least ½ to 1 oz of water per pound of bodyweight a day. To combat water loss, some experts also recommend weighing before and after your workout.
6. Add an Incline
There’s surprisingly a lot of benefits to adding an incline when you walk or use a treadmill. One study found that it improves your hamstring, glute, hip, knee, and ankle activity compared to walking without an incline. Another study found that it reduces stress on your extremities and joints.((PubMed.gov: The influence of incline walking on joint mechanics)) It also improves your lung function, and there’s the widely known notion that it increases the number of calories you burn per hour.
7. Interval Training: Short but Sweet
High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) has become a more popular workout and for very good reasons. Interval training has greater cardiovascular and fat loss compared to other workouts. A study found that just a quick 20-minute workout burned twice as many calories during a long run.((NCBI: Exercise Intensity and Energy Expenditure of a Tabata Workout)) While you don’t want to completely stick with only interval training, it’s a great addition for when you’re short on time or a more relaxed day.
8. Go Outside
When you were a child, your parents probably told you to go play outside. As you get older, outdoor activities become less frequent when work and real-life takes over. However, the great outdoors just might be what you need. A study found that people who did workouts outdoors were more energetic, rejuvenated, and less angry.((Time: Why Spring Is the Perfect Time to Take Your Workout Outdoors)) They compared this to those who only worked out indoors.
9. Switch Things Up Now and Then
Another important workout tip is to switch things up now and then. One major complaint people have is they get bored. For some, a routine keeps them in check and helps them stay on track. Others struggle or dread doing the same activities over and over again.
There are dozens of exercises you can do like yoga, Pilates, HIIT, weightlifting, cardio, you get the idea. Even variants of the exercises you do help with your muscle gains. A study found that participants who did both a deep squat and a full squat achieved greater results than those who only did a full squat.((Taylor and Francis Online: Full squat produces greater neuromuscular and functional adaptations and lower pain than partial squats after prolonged resistance training)) Now, you don’t have to change it up each time you workout but switching things up every so often eases your boredom and benefits your body.
10.Never Skip a Warm-Up
You often hear fitness experts emphasizing warmups or stretches before and after a workout. While it’s a solid idea and should be done, some don’t feel it’s necessary. Whether it’s a lack of time or they just don’t feel like it, many skip the warmups. But research shows that you shouldn’t.
Not only do stretches have benefits for your workout, but dynamic warmups do too. A study from Austin State University found that people who warmed up lightly with leg extensions and squats were able to put more power into their squats. On average, they were able to squat with 8.36% more weight than when they just did typical stretches. They also had increased stability with 22.7% lower body stability. ((PubMed.gov: Potentiation Effects of Half-Squats)) Warmups were also shown to increase blood flow and your range of motion.
11. Don’t Skip Out on Weights
Here’s a workout tip some people don’t want to hear: don’t skip out on weight. We all know that one person who swears by cardio only routine. While it might work great for the short term, it’s not beneficial in the long run. Your routine does need to include some type of lifting program. Why? Your metabolism slows making it harder to lose weight. A study conducted by the Harvard School of Public Health found that those who spent as little as 20 minutes a day gained less abdominal fat than those who stuck to cardio only routines.((Science Daily: Weight training appears key to controlling belly fat))
12. Get a Massage
A massage seems more like a treat than something you should receive daily, but it’s actually beneficial to your workouts. Research conducted by McMaster University in Canada found that massages help muscles decrease inflammation and increase mitochondria.((McMaster University: Massage is promising for muscle recovery: McMaster researchers find 10 minutes reduces inflammation)) What does this mean? You get more power in your workouts and recover faster.
13. Sleep Well
Everyone knows that a quality night’s rest is essential for daily functioning. However, it’s crucial for your workouts, too. A lack of sleep hinders your performance, your caloric burn, and makes it harder for you to do better in your next session.
Why? Sleep helps your muscles and body recover from sessions, so not sleeping much can cause overtraining symptoms or plateaus.((PubMed.gov: Sleep and athletic performance: the effects of sleep loss on exercise performance, and physiological and cognitive responses to exercise)) While sleep doesn’t come easy for everyone, it’s recommended to get at least seven to nine hours each night.
14. Indulge in Protein Before Bed
You often hear people following a diet where they stop food consumption after a certain time, swearing it takes off the extra pounds. While this is true in theory (calories in vs calories out), it’s not exactly healthy.
When you work out hard, your body needs time and adequate nutrients to recover properly. Protein helps rebuild muscles and is one of those essential food items you want to make sure you’re eating enough of. A study from the Netherlands showed that consuming food rich in casein before bed keeps your amino acid and protein synthesis going while you’re asleep.((PubMed.gov: Protein ingestion before sleep improves postexercise overnight recovery)) Now, that’s not to say go crazy before bed, but a light snack of Greek yogurt or a cup of cottage cheese will help.
15.Cardio Gets a Bad Reputation
Cardio has an overwhelming amount of data that supports the health benefits you get. Regardless if you’re doing high-intensity or low-impact, you’ll still receive the benefits. However, it often gets a bad reputation and many actually skip cardio. But cardio itself isn’t bad to add to your routine if you’re a guy or someone who typically skips it. Why? Because it enhances muscle building.
If you’ve ever done cardio then tried lifting, you know it doesn’t end well. By the time you try to lift, your whole body has given up. However, if you want to get the benefits of cardio, squeeze it in after your lift session. You’ll have more energy, and you’ll burn more fat too.
A study from the Journal of Sports Science Medicine found that those who did high-intensity cardio sessions lasting longer than 30 minutes when into muscle hypertrophy. Those that performed low-impact exercises benefitted the most with more muscle growth over time.((NCBI: Moderate Intensity Cycling Exercise after Upper Extremity Resistance Training Interferes Response to Muscle Hypertrophy but Not Strength Gains)) It’s recommended that if you perform high-intensity workouts, to wait at least three hours before taking on a long cardio session.
While there are a lot more workout tips than what we listed—and I mean a lot—you, at the very least, gained some knowledge on what you might be doing wrong and how you can easily fix or switch up your routine. The journey to achieve the body you want isn’t always easy or fun, but it’s worth it in the end.