Scientists just figured out how to become even fitter.
By timing your protein intake, prioritizing antioxidants, and balancing strength training with cardio work, even experienced athletes attained new levels of strength, the researchers found.
We all try to do what we can to stay as fit as possible—hit the gym four or five times a week, pick up a yoga class or two, visit a CrossFit box occasionally to amp up the endurance training—but we can always do more to hone our physique and diet to get to the next level of fitness.
Now, a team of researchers is starting to hone in on a comprehensive strategy to get there. And while the individual components are probably familiar to regular Men’s Fitness readers, this program represents a solid all-around plan to build your fittest self yet.
It’s called PRISE—short for Protein-pacing, Resistance exercise, Interval sprints, Stretching, and Endurance exercise—and in a study, the researchers at Skidmore College found that the program not only boosted the fitness of already physically fit people, but also improved their total body fat mass and abdominal fat, lean body mass, metabolic and heart health.
The researchers tested the regimen on people ages 30–65 who had been doing cardio and resistance training for a minimum of four days a week at no less than 45 minutes each time for the last three years—fairly experienced gym rats, in other words. In the 12-week study, subjects consumed modest amounts of protein throughout the day (called protein pacing), and then performing the fitness routines four times a week. The only experimental difference? One group took a bit more protein (1g vs 2g per kg of body weight per day) and added antioxidant-rich supplements to their diet.
After 12 weeks, all subjects showed improvement in fitness, including healthier blood vessels, more upper body strength and endurance, and better core strength—but the group that took the antioxidants exhibited the most improvement.
“Whether your goal is to improve fitness or heart health, the quality of your diet and a multi-dimensional exercise training regimen [like PRISE] can make all the difference,” said Paul Arciero, D.P.E., study author and exercise scientist at Skidmore. “It’s not about simply eating less calories and doing more exercise. It’s about eating the right foods at the right time and incorporating a combination of exercises that most effectively promotes health and fitness.”