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The 2 Things That Will Improve Your Workout Game

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The 2 Things That Will Improve Your Workout Game
Runner athlete running on stairs. Photo Credit lzf/iStock/GettyImages

If you want to up the ante when it comes to your workout game, making just two tweaks to your pre-sweat regimen could be a game changer. According to recent scientific evidence, drinking coffee and getting extra sleep before exercising can significantly improve game-day performance.

While a cup of coffee is known to spike performance just prior to physical activity, there has always been a debate as to how long-term consumption can make an individual immune to the maximum benefit (caffeine is technically a drug, so the more you drink it, the more you need to get the same effect).

However, a new study published in the Journal of Applied Physiology is dispelling the myth that habitual coffee drinkers are robbing themselves of caffeine’s perk when it comes to exercise. Who better to prove the theory than Brazilians, who drink coffee like it’s water?

Researchers examined the health and performance of 40 competitive male cyclists around São Paulo and placed them into separate groups based on how much caffeine they typically consumed. The cyclists participated in several timed trials and were given a caffeine tablet before the first trial, a placebo the second and no tablet the third.

Researchers found that no matter how much caffeine the men consumed the week before the trial, they all benefited the same from consuming caffeine the day of the trial — with performance improving by a whopping 3.3 percent with caffeine. In a marathon race this could reduce an athlete’s time by several minutes.

“No matter the habitual caffeine intake in the diet, acute caffeine supplementation can improve performance,” explained the author of the study, scientist Bruno Gualano, to the New York Times.

If caffeine isn’t your thing, but you’re still looking for an extra boost, make sleep a bigger priority. Preliminary results from a recent study published in Sleep support short-term sleep extension as a way to improve performance, specifically in regards to response time and daytime functioning.

Researchers analyzed several professional baseball players from an MLB organization, all of whom extended their sleep by just one hour for five nights. Not only did their cognitive processing speed test improve by 13 percent — resulting in them reacting 122 milliseconds faster — but when their selective attention was tested while being confronted with distractions, their response time improved by 66 milliseconds.

While milliseconds may seem like small beans to most of us, the authors maintain that a fastball leaves the pitching mound and races over home plate in just 400 milliseconds — which means the benefit of sleep extension is significant.

“Our research indicates that short-term sleep extension of one additional hour for five days demonstrated benefits on athletes’ visual search abilities to quickly respond when faced with distractors,” lead author Cheri D. Mah, M.S., explained about the study. While most of us aren’t professional baseball players, it’s safe to say that results would translate to the masses, especially those who train hard. “These findings suggest that short-term sleep loading during periods of high training volumes may be a practical recovery strategy and fatigue countermeasure that has daytime performance benefits,” Mah continued.

Unfortunately, there have been no scientific studies on the combined benefits that both sleeping an extra hour and drinking a cup of coffee will have on your workout. Let’s hope they multiply.

What Do You Think?

Have you noticed an improvement to your workout routine from getting extra sleep or drinking coffee? Do you think you can get too much sleep? Do you think if got more sleep and drank coffee the benefits would be even greater?

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