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Simple Tips to Get Most Out of Workouts

You’ve carved out a little free time, changed into your workout clothes, and you’re on your way to the gym. Good work; the hardest part—actually getting out the door—is behind you! But will you make the most of your workout? A new study offers up a simple trick to get the most of your sweat session: Sip some caffeine on your way to the gym.

Researchers from Coventry University in the UK recruited 13 people and split them into two groups. One group received a caffeinated beverage one hour before hitting the gym, while the second group gulped a placebo. How’d their workouts go? The caffeine group completed an average of 38% more repetitions of each exercise, and they also reported having more energy and enthusiasm about exercising, compared to their non-caffeinated counterparts.

Here’s why caffeine helps: When you put your muscles to work, a molecule called adenosine builds up in your muscle cells. That molecule muddles communication within your central nervous system, and so hinders muscle activity and limits your workout potential, explains study author Michael Duncan, PhD, an applied sports science lecturer at Coventry U. But caffeine appears to limit the build-up of adenosine, he says. Past studies have shown that caffeine can also improve aerobic performance, Duncan adds.

How much caffeine do you need to experience this benefit? Roughly 10 to 15 milligrams per 10 pounds of body weight, Duncan says. For a 130-pound woman, that works out to about 175 mgs of caffeine—or the equivalent of one cup of coffee (depending on who’s doing the brewing).

Here are a few more scientifically proven ways to maximize your workout:

Turn it up. Listening to music with a fast, energetic beat while you work out has been shown to improve both muscle endurance and performance during aerobic and resistance…

Read more: Prevention

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