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5 Scientifically Backed Methods to Optimize Your Workout Efficiency

Sprinting to make workouts more effective
While we love the endorphin rush of a good workout, sometimes after the end of a tough day at work, we just don't have the time or energy for a good 5 mile run. Wondering how to lose weight, then? This got us searching for how we could improve our workout efficiency, to do more with less. We present to you our top 5 tips and the scientific research behind them to lose that belly fat and keep those pounds off:

1. Drink Caffeine Before Working Out

caffeine improves workout effectiveness
Image Credit: Shutterstock

A study done on 9 competitive cyclists who exercised till exhaustion on a bicycle (what else?) and involved two trials:

             (1) One trial was performed an hour after ingesting decaffeinated coffee
             (2) a second trial (C) required that each subject consume coffee containing 330 mg of                                caffeine 60 min before the exercise

Consuming coffee allowed the subjects to continue exercising longer, last on average for 90.2 minutes, versus 75.5 minutes without. In addition, researchers found fat oxidation to be significantly higher during the caffeinated trial than the decaffeinated trial. While participants burned roughly the same amount of carbohydrates during both trials, they burned 118g (1.31g/min) of fat during the caffeinated trial versus 57g (0.75g/min) during the decaffeinated one. [1]

In summary, caffeine helps to break down fats and get it to the bloodstream and allows us to push ourselves harder.

2. Plug In to Fast-Paced Music

fast-paced music improves the effectiveness of workouts
Image Credit: Richard Meehan

In a study done on audio cues and motor rehabilitation, the gait speed of 11 healthy individuals were measured as they were exposed to different audio cue tempos. Researchers found that faster audio cues resulted in a 16% increase in walking speed.

This jives with our own experience of being "able" to run much faster when we plug in to some fast music. Techno, heavy metal, whatever works for you is fine! Our current "playlist": XJapan Non-Stop High-Speed.

3. Combine High Intensity Training with Steady State Cardio

HIIT vs steady state cardio
Image Credit: imgkid

Studies done during the early 1900s demonstrated that as exercise intensity increased, the proportion of fat oxidization decreased. Recent research has shown that although our fat stores are broken up in proportion to the intensity of the exercise, at high intensity levels, the body is unable to move the newly freed fatty acids into the bloodstream as well as it does during steady state cardio. [3]

In a separate study done on eight male endurance runners, researchers found that constant velocity running (jogging) following heavy-intensity endurance running training (sprints) resulted in changing the body's fuel source towards greater fat metabolism. By doing 10 minutes of HIIT at the start of our workout followed by 20 minutes of moderately paced jogging, we're seeing much better results than just doing either on its own. [4]

4. Incorporate Resistance Training With Free Weights

Benefits of free weights
Image Credit: WallPaperUp

Examining the effects of 26 weeks of resistance training on the energy expenditure of seniors, researchers found that:

             (1) Resting Energy Expenditure increased 6.8%
             (2) Total Energy Expenditure increased 12%

These results suggest that resistance training increases metabolism and fat burning capabilities of the body both during exercise and rest. But why free weights? [5]

In a study comparing the bench press done using a smith machine and free weights, scientist found that there was greater muscle activation when using free weights. Quoting the findings of the study:

"The results of this study suggest that strength coaches should consider choosing the free weight bench press over the Smith machine bench press because of its potential for greater upper-body muscular development." [6]

5. Eat Spicy Food

Spicy foods help to burn fats
Image Credit:

80 volunteers were randomly given either a pill containing a 6mg capsicum extract or a placebo everyday for 12 weeks. At the end of 12 weeks, the capsicum extract group displayed higher fat oxidization levels and also reduced abdominal fat versus the control group.

Assuming you can tolerate spicy foods, this is an easy to make tweak to rev up your metabolism.

And so there you have it - 5 scientifically backed ways to make sure you're exercising as efficiently as possible. In an earlier article, we mentioned that the trick to losing weight (fat) is by increasing our background activity. While we believe that's the most sustainable way to lose the pounds and keep them off, the aim of this article is speed and efficiency. Without liposuction or chopping of a limb, of course.   

[1] Costill DL, Dalsky GP, Fink WJ. (1978). Effects of caffeine ingestion on metabolism and exercise performance. Medicine and Science in Sports. 10(3):155-158

[2] Powell,W., et al. (2010). Sounding Better: Fast Audio Cues Increase Walk Speed in Treadmill-Mediated Virtual Rehabilitation Environments. Studies in Health Technologies and Informatics. 154:202-7.

[3] Maughan RJ, Burke LM (eds): Sports Nutrition: More Than Just Calories – Triggers for Adaptation. NestlĂ© Nutr Inst Workshop Ser Nestec Ltd., Vevey/S. Karger AG., Basel, 2011, vol 69, pp 39–58

[4] James, D.V., and Doust, J.H. (1998). Oxygen uptake during moderate intensity running: Response following a single bout of interval training. Eur J Appl Physiol Occup Physiol. 77(6):551-555.

[5] Hunter, GR., et al. (1985). Resistance training increases total energy expenditure and free-living physical activity in older adults. J Appl Physiol Sep;89(3):977-84.

[6] Schick, E.E., et al. (2010). A comparison of muscle activation between a Smith machine and free weight bench press. J Strength Cond Res. Mar;24(3):779-84

Title Image Credit: WallPaperUp


  1. Hi! To make the workout more efficient these tips can be more useful for a workout lovers.Eat spicy food & Fast-Paced Music is really effective.I use this both before workout & find out that it's really good.Nice post.... :-)

  2. Geat Methods. The certain spices like red chilli pepper, ginger, and black peppers increase your basal metabolic rate by raising your body temperature, which causes you to burn more calories and is a great way of helping your weight loss plan. A bowl of Chili con carne, for instance, can temporarily boost metabolism by about 8%. Spices like chilli and ginger can also give your libido a big boost, which causes you to want to go and burn off even more calories.. Thank you for great post.


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