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Published on December 18, 2020

15 Effective Workout Tips Backed by Scientific Research

15 Effective Workout Tips Backed by Scientific Research

What if I told you that there are dozens of workout tips proven to aid in weight loss? Now, you might be thinking, “Yeah sure. I’ve heard it all before. Nothing I try works!” You may indeed have tried a lot of tips that just didn’t work. However, many of the so-called “workout tips” are more based on anecdotal experiences than science.

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.[1]

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.[2]

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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.[3] 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.[4] 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.[5] 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.[6] 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.

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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.[7]

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.[8] 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.[9] 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.[10] 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.

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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.[11] 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. [12] 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.[13]

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.[14] 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.[15] While sleep doesn’t come easy for everyone, it’s recommended to get at least seven to nine hours each night.

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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.[16] 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.[17] It’s recommended that if you perform high-intensity workouts, to wait at least three hours before taking on a long cardio session.

Final Thoughts

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.

More Workout Tips

Featured photo credit: Benjamin Klaver via unsplash.com

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Reference

[1] PubMed.gov: Influence of competition on performance and pacing during cycling exercise
[2] PubMed.gov: The use of carbohydrates during exercise as an ergogenic aid
[3] PubMed.gov: Effect of different musical tempo on post-exercise recovery in young adults
[4] NCBI: Effect of music tempo on exercise performance and heart rate among young adults
[5] American Physiological Society: Caffeine consumption around an exercise bout: effects on energy expenditure, energy intake, and exercise enjoyment
[6] PubMed.gov: Chocolate milk: a post-exercise recovery beverage for endurance sports
[7] NCBI: Water, Hydration and Health
[8] PubMed.gov: The influence of incline walking on joint mechanics
[9] NCBI: Exercise Intensity and Energy Expenditure of a Tabata Workout
[10] Time: Why Spring Is the Perfect Time to Take Your Workout Outdoors
[11] Taylor and Francis Online: Full squat produces greater neuromuscular and functional adaptations and lower pain than partial squats after prolonged resistance training
[12] PubMed.gov: Potentiation Effects of Half-Squats
[13] Science Daily: Weight training appears key to controlling belly fat
[14] McMaster University: Massage is promising for muscle recovery: McMaster researchers find 10 minutes reduces inflammation
[15] PubMed.gov: Sleep and athletic performance: the effects of sleep loss on exercise performance, and physiological and cognitive responses to exercise
[16] PubMed.gov: Protein ingestion before sleep improves postexercise overnight recovery
[17] NCBI: Moderate Intensity Cycling Exercise after Upper Extremity Resistance Training Interferes Response to Muscle Hypertrophy but Not Strength Gains

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Dan Barcelon

Health & Fitness Editor of "Fitness for Non-Athletes"

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Published on July 23, 2021

7 Best Foam Rollers for Muscle Relaxation

7 Best Foam Rollers for Muscle Relaxation

Foam rollers are one of those pieces of equipment where if you do it right, they can provide you with a deep-tissue massage. They’re commonly cylinder-shaped and they push up against sore muscles while you lay on the floor.

Because foam rollers are such handy tools, there is a wide selection of foam rollers you can choose from. Depending on what kind of exercises you do, a foam roller can aid in relaxing different muscles in your body. Below, I picked out the best foam rollers available on the market depending on the types of exercises and needs that you have.

How I Picked the Best Foam Rollers

Before jumping into the list, here are the criteria that I used when putting together this list of best foam rollers.

  • Weight – Foam rollers, as their name suggests, are designed to be light enough for you to roll around without exerting effort.
  • Compact – Because you’re laying on the ground, you want to have plenty of space. As such, a roller should allow you to lay down and easily perform the exercises you need without too much issue.
  • High-density – The material should also be dense enough so that you won’t accidentally crush the roller under your own weight. The rollers on this list are very durable.

1. Best Overall: LuxFit Premium High-Density Foam Roller

    From dealing with sports injuries to relieving tension points in your body post-workout, this premium high-density foam roller is the best. This foam roller is entirely made from molded polypropylene foam, which means that it has a high density and won’t be losing its shape for a very long time, even if you use it daily.

    Beyond that, it can also repel liquid so it won’t get soggy or wet if you’re particularly sweaty or you’re using the roller near water.

    It comes in three different sizes and can be used to assist your core, cover spinal stabilization, balance, re-educating your muscles, and boost stamina.

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    Pick up LuxFit’s foam roller here.

    2. Best Grid: TriggerPoint GRID Foam Roller

      If you’re new to foam rollers, this one might be the best choice for you. The reason for that is that each purchase of these TriggerPoint GRID foam rollers comes with a free online instructional video. This video shows you the best practices and how to use a foam roller properly.

      As for the roller itself, the big benefit here is the overall design. It has a rigid hollow core, and the materials used to make this roller are rigid so it won’t be breaking down easily.

      Another aspect to it is its multi-dimensional surface, making it a go-to roller for masseuses to athletes. These rollers can also assist in oxygen flow and heal tissues.

      Pick up TriggerPoint’s foam roller here.

      3. Best for Physical Therapy: Rolling With It Therapeutic Grade Premium EVA Foam Roller

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        Even though this roller is fantastic for physical therapy, it can also be helpful for general use, particularly before you go to work out. By rolling in advance, you’re allowing your muscles to get warmed up for the exercises that you’re doing.

        This is big because when muscles are more relaxed, you’ll be able to extend the period of your workout. You’ll want to care about this if you normally do high-impact routines such as Crossfit, bodybuilding, or general weight training.

        Using this regularly is smart and unlike LuxFit’s roller, this one is eco-friendly and resists flaking and chipping.

        Buy Rolling With It Therapeutic’s foam roller here.

        4. Best Half Roller: OPTP PRO-ROLLER Soft Density Foam Roller

          While rollers are nice, they do have a tendency to slip and slide around. If you prefer to stay still and relax your muscles, OPTP’s half-roller will be a good fit. It’s highly durable with its cross-linked, closed-cell foam. Because of that, it has a perfect balance between softness and firmness.

          Beyond that, because it’s a half roller, you have the option between a flat surface or a rounded surface for versatility. If you’re looking for a softer roller, this one is a good option.

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          Buy OPTP’s foam roller here.

          5. Best Stick: Tiger Tail Massage Stick

          While your standard rollers are great for back rolling, they’re only able to cover large areas of muscles. This becomes an issue if you’re looking to relieve tension to smaller muscles or in specific areas.

          This is where massage sticks are able to shine as they pinpoint specific areas in your body. Out of the various massage sticks we’ve checked, the one from Tiger Tail is ideal. It has three size options to pick from (11-inch, 18-inch, and 22-inch) letting you have good flexibility in what you’re looking for.

          The Tiger Tail is made from a high-quality, non-absorbent, and non-deteriorating closed-cell foam. This ensures that it won’t hurt your skin when using it, making cleaning easier, too. It’s also ergonomically designed so that your hands won’t tire out when using it.

          Buy Tiger Tail’s massage stick here.

          6. Best for Cyclists: Kieba Massage Lacrosse Balls for Myofascial Release

            While it’s no foam roller, lacrosse balls are excellent ways to relieve tension in areas where foam rollers are awkward to reach, such as shoulders, glutes, and neck. All in all, they’re a great addition to your muscle relaxation routine.

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            Every purchase of these lacrosse balls provides you with two balls to use. Through these durable balls, you’ll be able to reach smaller muscle groups easier than you could with any typical foam roller.

            Purchase Kieba’s massage lacrosse balls here.

            7. Best for Shoulders: RumbleRoller Beastie Bar and Stands

              Lastly, if you’re looking for a great way to relax your shoulders, this product from RumbleRoller is ideal. The thing with foam rollers is that reaching your shoulders with these rollers can be awkward. Paired up with shoulders tend to carry a lot of stress, we’re more likely to experience muscle pain in that area.

              Instead of pulling out your roller, this option could be significantly better. This wand features two “Beasties,” which are spiky foam massage balls. Similar to Lacrosse balls, these are able to target small pressure points on your body—in this case, your shoulders and neck.

              It comes with stands that are detachable so you can use just the ball to relieve various points over your body too if need be. Each of the balls is durable and firm so you shouldn’t have issues in relieving muscle pain.

              Buy RumbleRoller’s beastie bar here.

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              Final Thoughts

              You don’t need to be constantly seeing a masseuse whenever you experience muscle pain. In many cases, it’s simply that you put your body through a bit too much stress. Whether it’s from your posture or from working out, foam rollers and other physical therapy tools can help you in dealing with those aches and pains. Just try out a few products from this list of the best foam rollers out there, and choose one that best fits your needs.

              Featured photo credit: Ambitious Creative Co. – Rick Barrett via unsplash.com

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