Health & Fitness

10 things that will take your workout to the next level

Hint: one involves Serena van der Woodsen.

1. But first, coffee
Caffeine doesn't just boost your energy levels allowing you to workout like a BOSS, it also increases the release of feel-good dopamine from your brain. Translation: your workout will be way more enjoyable and not nearly as painful if you stop for coffee first. And coffee can even affect your after-Barre calorie consumption, too. A 2014 study found that those who had a pre-gym caffeine fix ate about 72 calories less that day than those who went sans-stimulant. BRB, grabbing a latte.

2. (Foam) roll with it
A foam roller is your fitness BFF. Use it to do push-ups and planks for a more intense workout - its curved surface will make you engage more core muscles - and a fast-track to fierce abs. Also spend 5-10 minutes rolling out your muscles in recovery time. You'll soon notice an improvement in flexibility, muscle condition and yep, tightness and aches. YAS. Try Spri High Density Foam Roller 46cm, $49.99.

3. Feel the burn. Like REALLY feel it
When you're struggling through the last 20 minutes of spin like SRSLY WTF AM I DOING HERE, it's important not to drift off into planning what you're going to wear on the weekend. Why? Cos mindless exercising is almost as bad as not exercising at all. When you're just going through the motions and your heart isn't really in it, your form is usually off and you can forget about epic results. So next time you're about to tune out, just think 'feel the burn, feel the burn'.

4. Shake it off
A workout isn't complete until you refuel. A post-gym shake is the BEST cos they're quick and easy, plus you can pack it with protein that your body craves after a workout. Why protein? The amino acids can help to rebuild and repair muscle tissue that can tear during exercise. Plus, if you pick a protein with a high level of satiety it can help you feel fuller for longer which is handy if you've hit the gym at lunch and won't have a chance to eat straight away. Try this Almond and Avocado Protein Shake and look for a protein supplement that is vegan, dairy-free and non-bloating such as Vital Protein. Oh, and it's NBD if you don't have the shake straight after exercising. The whole "30-minute protein window" is widely considered to be a myth.

5. Start a WhatsApp wellness group
Your besties = the ultimate cheer squad so get them involved in your #fitspo goals. A US university study found that people who received a minimum of two motivational health and wellbeing texts a week lost three percent of their body weight over a 12-week period on average. So whether weight loss, wellbeing or both are your goal, your BFFs are the key to you sticking with your healthy habits high five emojis.

6. Add peppermint to your water
A 2013 sports nutrition study found that peppermint oil improves exercise performance. One small drop of the minty fresh essential oil (0.05 ml if you're all about the specifics) in water is apparently all you need to boost your stamina, increase your pain threshold and reach peak fitness goals. Try Bosisto's Peppermint Oil, $10.95.

7. Skip to the beat
Wanna know what Kate Hudson, Adriana Lima, Kate Perry and Biebs all have in common? They legit love to skip. The childhood exercise isn't just good for a few LOLZ, trainers tell us that you can burn up to 200 calories in 20 minutes just by jumping rope. This is not a drill, people. Try Nike Speed 2.0 Jump Rope, $29.99.

8. Get Serena and Blair involved
If you suck at mindful exercise (excuse me while I vom rather than ~visualise~) or struggle to get your ass into gear and to the gym, try going when your fave show is on. Running on the treadmill is way more fun when you're watching Friends or Gossip Girl re-runs. FACT. If you can't seem to time it for a good show, try training at home. Download a fitness app and hit play on Netflix. Just remember to switch up your speed, incline or workout from time to time #vortex.

9. Go hard for the final five
It's all to easy to dial it back when the end of your class is near, but that's the time you should be giving it your ALL as though this is your last goddamn Olympics. When you finish on a high (exhausted, but proud af) it's waaayyyyyy easier psychologically to return to the gym/class/park next time. Tip: always get the exercises you hate over and done with first so that homestretch glory run is even sweeter.

10. Forget the 5:2, follow the 2:1
Ditch the diets and keep the ratios in the gym. Heaps of studies (such as this one) have found that a 2:1 workout-to-rest ratio - so sprinting for one minute followed by 30 seconds of recovery time - is the most effective way to exercise. It gives your body enough time to recover for the next burst of burpees, but still ensures your heart rate remains high for your whole workout. Suck at maths? High intensity interval training (HIIT) classes are all the rage RN. No self-ratios necessary.

Brought to you by Vital Protein