Lupita Nyong'o Shared How She Stays Motivated During Grueling Workouts

When you just can't manage another rep, you can call on Nyong'o's tip.

Photo: Getty Images

If your strategy for getting through tough workouts involves grunting, grimacing, and maybe even the occasional whimper, Lupita Nyong'o is here with a tip that might make you question everything. The Star Wars alum shared a sunny photo of herself mid-workout, sharing that her secret to getting through those intense final reps is by — you guessed it — smiling.

"When I feel the burn, I smile and it tricks my body into thinking I am fine," Nyong'o wrote in the caption of her Instagram post, adding, "And then I am! #Fitnesscanbefun #SweatNSmile." (Remember when Sophia Bush conquered that tough leg workout with a smile on her face?)

OK, OK. So you might be thinking Nyong'o's fitness tip is one that only the most energetic and enthusiastic fitness instructors would say as you're silently muttering under your breath, but it turns out there's actually something to cracking a smile as you sweat. A small 2017 study published in the journal Psychology of Sport and Exercise brought together 24 recreational runners for a series of treadmill tests. The researchers measured participants' "running economy" — a measure of how much oxygen you use to stride at a given speed — while the subjects ran with smiles, frowns, and neutral expressions. (

When participants were smiling, most had a better running economy than when they were frowning or neutral. They also reported a lower perceived effort when smiling compared to frowing. Researchers chalked it up to a "reduction in muscular tension" that naturally happens when you grin instead of grimace. (

Another factor that might have an impact on your workout performance? Your activewear. (Seriously.) It seems like the Black Panther alum was cashing in on that principle as well with a logo-emblazoned Nike set. She appeared to be wearing the Nike Pro Dri-FIT Racerback Crop Training Top and Nike Training Crossover Leggings In Black, which are sadly sold out online.

Fear not, though. You can still snag the Nike Pro Women's Dri-FIT Cropped Graphic Tank Top (Buy It, $35, and Nike Women's Pro Training Tights (Buy It, $50, for a similarly coordinated look that will keep you cool and comfy through any workout. Both are made up of at least 50 percent recycled plastic and feature Nike's Dri-FIT fabric, which is designed to wick away sweat efficiently. (

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Nike Women's Pro Training Tights

Nike Women's Pro Training Tights
Dick's Sporting Goods

Of course, the workout trick that Nyong'o recommended is absolutely free and always accessible. Next time you feel like you just can't get through that workout, try a smile on for size — you might just have your best sweat session yet.

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