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The Weirdest Ways to Boost Your Performance

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You know the proven prescription for meeting your fitness goals. But beyond nutrition, fitness, and sleep, there are other—and less conventional—ways to up your workout routine. In fact, studies have shown that everything from wearing a mouthguard to stopping for a slushy can help you move faster, recover with ease, and beat pain fast. Here, five of the craziest things we've heard. Give them a shot next time you're ready to sweat!

Spit It Out
Trying to shed some pounds? Try taking a gulp of a sports drink mid-workout—but then spit it out. Research has shown you still get a boost even if you don't swallow it. Your tongue will recognize the presence of sugar and tell your body to start expending more energy, meaning you'll torch more calories. In a recent British study, cyclists swigged sugar water around their mouths for 10 seconds, then spit it out—and upped their performance by about 3 percent. That might seem like a small improvement, but every extra calorie you can burn will help you reach that weight-loss goal.

Accentuate the Positive
To push yourself, get some positive reinforcement. Hearing optimistic feedback about their performance increased runners’ efficiency in new research from the University of Nevada Las Vegas. Have a friend text you words of encouragement in the middle of a long run to dispel negative thoughts that might be entering your mind, or make sure your coach is on the sidelines cheering you along.

RELATED: The Best Ways to Pump Up Your Mental Muscles

Stop for a Slurpee
When athletes in an Australian study downed a slushy while training in hot weather, they ran 19 percent faster than after drinking cold—not freezing—water. Of course, a less syrupy option than sugar-packed slush is probably a better bet. So pop a bottle of water or low-calorie sports drink in the freezer about an hour before your session, then sip on the icy liquid as you work up a sweat.

Get a Mouthful
Even if you don’t play a contact sport, you might benefit from wearing a mouthguard, according to a recent study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. Athletes who wore them while exercising were able to work out at a higher intensity while using less oxygen. Try an inexpensive model (and ignore the feelings that you look goofy wearing it) and see if you notice any gains in your performance.

Build Speed at Night
To gain the most from speed workouts or agility drills, schedule them for the evening. In a new study from the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, athletes who worked out in the morning had similar power to those who exercised later in the day, but higher levels of melatonin in their system made them slower and less accurate during quick movements.

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