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Swearing Aloud While Working Out Might Boost Your Strength

Cursing aloud may help you push through the pain, a new study found.

Man Deadlifts in Gym
Paul Aiken / EyeEm / Getty

We all know that guy (unless you are that guy) who lifts loudly in the gym. Whether it's grunting, outright shouting, or slamming weights onto the floor like he's trying to demolish the place, this guy doesn't hold back. When he's lifting, you know it.

Some may say this display of stereotypical beastliness is obnoxious or exaggerated, but a new study found that at least one sort of vocal outburst can actually help improve physical performance: swearing aloud.

That's right, b*tches—in a study published in the Journal of Psychology of Sports and Exercise, researchers asked people to suggest a swear word that they'd use "in response to banging their head accidentally" and a word "to describe a table". When the participants did a 30-second stationary bike test, saying the swear word out loud gave them a 4.6% power increase. In a test of max-grip strength, the swear word gave them an 8.2% increase.

When it comes down to it, it probably has to do with the way swearing can help us feel relieved when we're in pain, according to study author Dr. David Spierer of LIU Brooklyn.

"Cursing may allow people to shut down their inhibitions and somewhat veil the effort and the pain of this really difficult task," Spierer said in a press release. "Using swear words might be helpful in any circumstance where muscle strength and a sudden burst of force or speed is required."

Researchers expected participants' heart rates and blood pressure to rise along with the strength increase, based upon results from previous research done by study author Dr. Richard Stephens of Keele University in the U.K. But that didn't happen, so they're not sure exactly why cursing leads to the strength increase. Regardless, it seemingly works.

Despite its possible strength benefits, we can't exactly recommend swearing loudly during your PR attempts in a crowded gym because, well, it would be pretty rude by most people's standards. After all, the gym is a place at which everyone should be comfortable.

But if you've got a souped-up home gym at which you crush your workouts, feel free to embrace your inner sailor and curse it out to push through those tough reps. Hell, you may just find it's your new secret weapon.

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