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Workout Tips to Make Your Exercises More Effective

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Nobody goes to the gym expecting mediocre results. You go in with the goal of getting the most out of every exercise. Fortunately, scientists and experts share the same goal. Here are 5 very effective methods for getting the most out of every one of your exercises, based on the most recent research.

Lift Weights

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"You're sabotaging yourself if all you do is cardio," says Jacob Wilson, Ph.D., a certified strength and conditioning specialist and assistant editor of the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. "Your metabolism will actually slow down, making it more difficult to lose weight." Resistance training, on the other hand, increases your metabolic rate by building muscle." That may explain why, over the course of 12 years, those who spent 20 minutes a day weight exercising developed less belly fat in a Harvard School of Public Health study of 10,500 adults (compared to those who spent the same amount of time performing cardio).

Listen To Music

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Everyone knows that listening to music helps get you in the mood for a workout, but in a study of 30 men and women published in the Indian Journal of Physiology and Pharmacology, individuals who listened to music (particularly slow music) after their workout recovered faster than those who did not. "Music increases serotonin and dopamine levels in the body, which are known to aid healing," explains Perkins. As soon as you've finished your workout, turn on some of your best, most calming music. It will assist your blood pressure and heart rate return to normal, allowing you to recuperate as quickly as possible.

Swap Stretching With A Dynamic Warmup

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Don't waste your time doing only stretching for your warmup. People who warmed up with light leg extensions and squats were able to squat with 8.36 percent more weight during their workout than those who did traditional "bend and hold" stretches, according to an Austin State University study. They were also 22.7 percent more stable in their lower bodies. "Imagine a rubber band," Wilson explains. "It won't travel as far if you extend it out a lot and then pull it back to shoot it." Your muscles and tendons go through the same thing." Dynamic bodyweight moves, on the other hand—those that mimic the workout you're about to do—increase blood flow and improve range of motion without jeopardizing the elastic properties of your muscles and tendons. Hence, if you're going for a run, doing lunges, knee lifts, and leg swings for five to ten minutes before getting on the treadmill is a better idea than doing static stretching.

Preface Your Workout With Carbs

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You might think of carbo-loading as a way to improve your sports performance. According to a 2013 study published in Sports Medicine, eating carbs before your workout can also help you throughout those intervals. "Carbs are your body's primary fuel for any high-intensity workout, and when your body is fuelled, it will put out a higher effort and get a better return, both in terms of caloric expenditure and muscle building, than if you are fasted," Wilson explains. Even if you enjoy morning workouts, make sure you consume some toast or oatmeal before leaving the house.

Do Intervals

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High-intensity intervals—periods of all-out effort alternated with short, low-intensity "breaks"—produce greater cardiovascular and fat-loss effects per minute than any other workout, according to Wall. People who did a 20-minute interval workout with activities like pushups, burpees, squats, and lunges burned an average of 15 calories per minute, nearly twice as many as those who ran lengthy distances, according to a study from the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse's Human Performance Laboratory. Follow the workout's instructions to burn equivalent calories: For 20 seconds, do as many reps as you can, then rest for 10 seconds before repeating for a total of four minutes. Repeat for a total of four rounds, pausing for one minute between each round.

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