It's exciting when we finally get into the habit of regularly working out, but this can quickly turn into a workout rut or plateau when you stop getting those desired results. Luckily, there are a number of fail-proof hacks that can help kick your workout up a notch, so if you're feeling like those daily jogs just aren't doing it for you, you can find a way to make exercising not only more effective, but enjoyable as well. Good fitness is an ongoing thing, so you shouldn't ditch your daily trips to the gym just because you find yourself getting tired and over it.
"If you are repeating the same length and intensity of workout — let’s say a 30 minute jog on a treadmill for example — for months or even years, you aren’t going to see any changes in your body," says certified trainer Brynn Putnam over email. "It’s important to progressively challenge yourself to see change. Train more, train harder, train differently, or train longer."
It can be difficult knowing where to begin when it comes to making effective changes, so I consulted with some fitness experts to help you out. Here are 10 weird but genius tips for improving your workouts every single time.
1. Get In Sync With Your Period
It might be the last thing you want to do on your period, but exercising on the later part of your menstrual cycle — when your estrogen and progesterone levels were high — burns more fat for energy and helps you feel less fatigued, according to research from the University of Adelaide.
2. Drink Coffee
As if you needed any more excuses to drink coffee: Research from the International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism found that drinking coffee before a workout burns about 15 percent more calories for three hours post-exercise. The drink can improve blood flow, diminish muscle pain, and provide your muscles with more energy, according to multiple studies.
3. Go With A Friend
"Training with like-minded people can inspire you not only to show up for your workout, but to push yourself to work harder," says Putnam. Research agrees: A study from Oxford University found that people have double the pain tolerance when working out with someone versus alone.
4. Let The Curse Words Flow
If doing burpees makes you want to shout out profanities, go for it! A study from the journal Neuroreport found that swearing can help improve your pain tolerance — as long as you don't go overboard.
5. Keep Your Hands Cool
Expand your exercise capacity by keeping your hands cool. That's right: A study from the American Heart Association’s Epidemiology and Prevention/Nutrition, Physical Activity and Metabolism 2012 Scientific Sessions found that women felt less fatigued and improved their exercise tolerance and cardiovascular fitness when their palms were kept cool.
6. Eat Dark Chocolate
More chocolate? Yes, please. A study from the Journal of Physiology found that when mice were fed epicatechin, a flavanol found in dark chocolate, they showed structural and metabolic changes in muscle that led to a greater endurance capacity.
7. Listen To Music
"An awesome playlist can inspire you to push even harder during your workout," says Putnam. A study from the British Association of Sport and Exercise Sciences found that treadmill walkers who exercised with music felt 15 percent more energetic—and less eager to get off the machine—than those who didn't listen to music. "Pre-plan your mixes to coordinate with your workout for a bonus workout timer," says Putnam.
8. Workout Around Positive Messages
Surround yourself with positive imagery and happy messages to increase your workout capacity. A study from the journal Frontiers in Human Neuroscience found that athletes performed better and got tired less quickly when they saw happy faces and active words like "go" compared to those who saw sad faces and inactive words like "stop."
9. Stretch Dynamically
Most of us are used to stretching in static poses, but these types of stretches can actually hinder your performance, according to research from the Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science In Sports. Ditch touching your toes and go for a pose with more movement. "Simply hanging from your waist can also cause injuries," says Peter Jenkins, C.P.T, Blink Fitness’ director of personal training over email. "Instead, try a more dynamic movement to open up your hamstrings such as a standing leg swings or walk-outs (also known as inchworms)."
10. Switch Up Your Order
If your workout feels monotonous, you'll definitely be less likely to do it. Keep things interesting without having to get a new gym membership or ditching your favorite moves. "Switch the order of the exercises you're doing, which body parts you're working first and last, and try doing weights first and cardio second," says Sarah Hays Coomer, NSCA-CPT over email.
Sometimes all you need to do is make a few changes to help get your workouts where they need to be.
Images: Pixabay (11); Bustle