Intensity – The Name of the Game

Ever wonder to yourself if you are working out hard enough?  If you are working out too hard?  Believe it or not, many people are unsure of how hard they should be working out, and as a result, are completely wrong on what they should be doing.  It’s no fault of their own, because if you think about it for a minute, it is easy to get confused.  How many different infomercials are there telling you to do different things in the gym?  You see countless DVDs and booklets on the “proven” type of workouts.  Well, the fact of the matter is this: Not everything works for everybody.  Not only are certain workouts not effective for some people, but some individuals SHOULDN’T be doing certain types of workouts.  Let me break it down very simply for you.

High Intensity vs Low Intensity – What’s the difference?

HIGH INTENSITY WORKOUTS

These workouts are for those individuals wanting to see a CHANGE in their performance or fitness.  If you want to cut time off your mile pace, lose 20 pounds, add pounds to your bench press, or simply get in overall better shape, you’re going to need to up the intensity.  Now, what does this mean?  Does this mean that every single workout you have to be drenched in sweat, incapable of walking, and wanting to shoot yourself?  NO.  Anyone who tells you that is a fool, and should shut up.  What this means is that you have to challenge yourself each and every time you step into a gym or onto a field.  There isn’t a special number as far as percentages or time spent under a heart rate range that will get you your results.  Good old fashion hard work, and lots of it, is the best prescription here.

The reason we have to push ourselves to create change is because the body has to be presented with a new stimulus to respond.  If you continually present your body with the same stimulus (workout intensity) there will be no change.  Think of it like this:  I work as a personal trainer.  If I do the same thing over and over every day with my job, I’m going to be in the same spot a year from now that I am today.   BUT, if I seek out new clients and opportunities (NEW STIMULUS) my job and life will be much different.  There will be a change.  Your body is the same way.  You have to push yourself harder than you are used to if you want to see changes.  There is no substitute for working hard.  Trust me, many people have been trying for years to find one, and they have all failed.  So, suck it up and get to work!!

 

LOW INTENSITY WORKOUTS

This type of workout is best suited for someone who has reached their goals or is simply content with where they are at.  Maybe you have reached the “maintenance” phase of your program.  In these types of situations, it is more appropriate to take the intensity down a few notches.  Now, this doesn’t mean you get to quit altogether.  You still need to exercise and work hard at it, but you can afford to go a little “lighter” during your workouts.  Maybe you take a longer rest between sets, slow down on your cardio a bit, or lower your resistance on some lifts.  You still push yourself, but it doesn’t have to be a new and challenging stimulus every single day.

HOW TO CHOOSE: First and foremost, you have to figure out your goals.  Do you want to improve your fitness?  Do you want to maintain what you have?  Once you figure that out, you can adjust your workout intensity accordingly.

MY TIP:  Here is a great tip for deciding if you’re intensity is appropriate for a workout: THE TALK TEST.  This is exactly what it sounds like.  If you too out of breath during your workout to have a steady conversation or respond to someone who may have (rudely) interrupted your workout, then your intensity is probably high enough to get some results, whatever you are doing.  If you are able to carry on a consistent conversation with someone, you are more than likely going through what would be considered a low intensity workout.  There is nothing wrong with either, based on your own goals, this is simply a great way to figure out where you are in your workout.

I hope this helps to clear up a few things on what the right intensity is for you and why.  Once you’ve figured out what YOU want to get from your workouts, find a plan that matches that intensity and GET TO WORK!!!

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