6 Weird (But Science-Backed) Ways To Supercharge Your Workout
What do cursing, Beyonce and your favorite jeans have in common? According to research, they can all boost your workout in a major way.
1. Visualize Kicking Butt
When it comes to getting your body in better condition, don’t forget about the power of your mind. Motor rehearsal—or visualization—can boost an athlete’s confidence in their ability to achieve a goal and can help prime the muscles for more efficient movements, according to a 2007 study. Research has also linked mentally rehearsing an exercise with increased strength and stamina when it comes to actually performing the exercise.
2. Go Ahead And Curse
Real talk: years ago, when I took up running as an out-of-shape slowpoke who could barely make it three blocks, sometimes I would get through those first few runs by muttering “f*ck this, this sucks” in tempo with my feet hitting the pavement. It certainly made me feel a little better—okay, and a little crazy. It turns out, science backs me up. In a 2009 study, researchers found that when study participants repeated an expletive of their choice, they were able to endure pain for longer. They even reported feeling less pain.
The study in question had participants immersing their hands in cold water, but the study authors think the results apply more broadly. Some scientists speculate that swearing activates the amygdala, a part of the brain that can trigger our fight-or-flight response and dull our sensitivity to pain. There’s one caveat, though—you’ll get the biggest benefit from cursing during a painful talk if you curse less often during the day. So keep that sh*t to yourself until your next workout.
3. Work Out With A Friend.
Grab a buddy—it can be good for your health. In 2012, researchers found that having a partner (even a virtual one) for your workout could improve performance in aerobic workouts. Another study found that you’ll get an especially powerful boost if you work out with a slightly superior gym buddy.
4. Listen To Music
That extra motivation you get when you’re in a Beyonce groove on the elliptical isn’t just in your head. Listening to music really can improve your workout performance—according to experts, it works as a dissociation strategy, reducing your perception of effort and fatigue by 12 percent.
5. Embrace Casual Friday
So this one isn’t for the gym, but it is a great way to sneak more exercise into your day, even if you’re skipping your yoga class. Turns out, going to work in comfortable, casual clothing that’s easy to move around in could motivate you to, well, move around more.
One 2007 study found that employees increased physical activity by eight percent and burned 25 percent more calories on casual-clothing workdays. That’s the equivalent of dropping almost two pounds over the course of a year with no extra effort. Of course, some of us have strict dress codes at work. But if your office is more relaxed, take advantage and wear clothing that makes it easy to move more during the day.
6. Drink Cherry Juice
Trade your Gatorade for fruit juice. Rich in antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, tart cherry juice was found to reduce muscle damage and pain during strenuous exercise in a 2010 study of long distance runners.