Too much exercise will wear you down and sap your energy, but too little makes you weak and tired. Here's what you should be doing at the gym to skyrocket your energy levels

By Charlotte Hilton Andersen
Updated: June 13, 2016
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Exhausted all the time? Join the club. Being bone-tired seems like an inevitable side effect of our modern lifestyle. But you don't have to be constantly running on fumes. It's long been known that exercise is one of the best ways to boost your energy level, but a new study has nailed down exactly which type of exercise can give you the biggest burst for your buck. (In the meantime, try these 11 All-Natural, Instant Energy Boosters.)

The answer lies in our biochemistry. For starters, exercise makes our cardiovascular system and muscles stronger, making everyday chores easier. On a cellular level, this transformation starts with our mitochondria, the "power houses" of our cells that are responsible for energy production. And different exercises affect our mitochondria in different ways, according to a presentation at the 2016 annual meeting of the American College of Sports Medicine.

The end goal of exercise is to only to create more mitochondria, but to also make the ones we have stronger. This takes a two-pronged approach in the gym, said David Bishop, Ph.D., a professor and research leader at Victoria University in Australia, in his report. First, the more exercise you do, the more mitochondria your body will make. Second, the more intense your exercise is, the more powerful each mitochondria will become. What does that mean for your next sweat sesh? You need both steady state and interval training to maximize your energy.

Neither long, steady workouts (where your heart rate stays about the same the whole time) or interval workouts (where you jack your heart rate up high for a short period of time and then drop it) on their own were enough, according to the research. Instead, you need both. (ICYMI, you can't only do cardio either.)

It's called a "polarized training" program, as first described by Stephen Seiler. The idea is that top athletes generally do a lot of training at low intensities but also include a small amount of very high-intensity workouts. The perfect ratio appears to be about 80 percent low intensity work with 20 percent high intensity training, although-for us non-elite athletes-the ratio could be as low as 90/10 to still see benefits. The trick, the researchers added, is not to overdo it by doing both (high intensity for long periods) at once.

The message you can take to the gym? Make one or two out of every ten workouts super high-intensity. Get started with this Home Tabata Workout and Blast Fat In 4 Minutes.

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