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Charge Up for Good Health

Turbocharge Your Exercise Routine

Burning more fat and calories with your basic exercise routine is easier than you think. Here''s how...

You don’t need to go to a fancy gym or hire a pricey personal trainer to get better results from your workout. My research and experience as a trainer has shown that you can burn more calories, build more muscle and have more energy just by making a few simple changes that won’t cost you a penny. Follow this game plan:

1. Milk it.
Have a big glass of low-fat chocolate milk or drinkable yogurt five to 15 minutes before you work out. In one of my recent studies, I found that people who downed a drink containing 15 to 20 grams of protein and 30 to 40 grams of carbs gained more muscle and lost more body fat than those who skipped the beverage. Food doesn’t work as well as do liquids, because it takes longer to digest it.

2. Water works.
Your muscles are 75 percent water, so it’s crucial to keep them hydrated throughout your routine. For every 1 percent of water you lose, your performance drops by 3 percent. How much water is enough? Drink 12 to 16 ounces for every 30 minutes of exercise.

3. Pump up your playlist.
You can work out harder -- but feel like you’re putting in less effort -- just by listening to music that has at least 125 beats per minute (the tempo of most dance and rock songs). Research from the Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology found that these high-energy tunes can bump up your endurance by 15 percent while making it seem like you’re putting out 10 percent less effort.

4. Ask for company.
Invite a friend with the same fitness level to work out with you. In another recent study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, dieters who trained with a friend lost about 60 percent more weight than those who did it solo. Why? You’re less likely to blow off exercise if you’re meeting someone, plus you’ll probably work out a little harder than if you were on your own.

5. Change the pace.
Switching from high intensity to low intensity and back again a few times during your workout will burn more calories than maintaining a steady pace the entire time. For example, if you’re spending 30 minutes on the treadmill, begin with a three-minute warm-up at 2 mph. Then alternate four three-minute intervals at 2.5 mph with four three-minute intervals at 3.5 mph. Finish with a three-minute cooldown at 2 mph.