Training Intensity To Reach Your Goals

Are you working hard enough to achieve your goals? 

Let’s talk about training intensity, what that looks like and when to consider your intensity to align with your goals.

Now, often we have a lot of people coming through. They’re either just starting out training or they have been training for quite a long time at the same or similar intensity and their body may have actually started to adapt to what they’re already doing. So we need to either increase the intensity or the volume of their activity or engage in a more specific program so that they continue to achieve their desired results. Obviously, you’re going to hit a level where you actually can’t continue to increase without adding extra stress which can be detrimental to your goals or overtraining. Potentially overdoing it which  leads to burnout. So let’s dive deeper into understanding the intensity level of your activity or training session. 

A really good indicator that most are already familiar with when we’re talking about intensity is going to be your heart rate. So let’s quickly discuss the heart rate measure because that one is obviously very widely known. If you’re not familiar with it however, an easy way to find your maximum heart rate is to minus your age from 220.

So if we’re thinking about trying to find a moderate intensity workout, it should be anywhere between 50% to 70% of your maximum heart rate. If you are looking to increase to a higher intensity and really hit your vigorous zone, then you’ll be looking to work anywhere between 70% to 85% of your maximum heart rate. Anyone doing PT with us knows all about this as we do talk about this, to set that bar for their sessions, not only to make sure that they’re working hard enough within their sessions, but also to give us a gauge as to whether or not we can be adding any intensity to their program. 

Another great indicator for your level of intensity during a session is the rate of perceived exertion or RPE. This is a really helpful tool as it’s easy to measure but also easy to communicate with your coach. Basically it talks about a scale of zero to ten. As the numbers increase, they represent a scale of exertion relating to the intensity and the feeling of the training session on the individual. So if we were to look at getting up to a light to moderate level of exercise, this might be sitting around three or four. Light to moderate exercise would be somebody who is still able to hold a conversation, but it might take say ten to twelve minutes to actually start to engage in an increased heart rate or feeling the perspiration or sweat starting as well. If we start to move into that moderate training, then that might be where, yes, your heart rate is increasing, it’s getting a little bit more difficult to hold a normal conversation and then obviously if we jump up into that vigorous style of training, it’s like we’ve got the sweat on in just a minute or two. It’s not taken too long for a heart rate to increase and we are actually feeling that intensity increase quite quickly. So when we look at these gauges, it’s actually really easy for you to tune in to how you are feeling and communicate this with your coach or record it for data towards your next session to get an idea if you are working hard enough to achieve your desired results or not. Honestly, I prefer this gauge, because it does prompt you to actually listen to your body, not just follow a fitness watch that’s telling you you’re at this amount of heart rate, you’re working hard enough, because sometimes they can actually be inaccurate. So, yes, at Fitness 360, we definitely encourage the RPE rate of perceived exertion and that is also how we determine how our clients are going with their training to know whether or not to add weight, increase reps, or if they’re ready to move up to the next phase. So there’s a few things to consider when it comes to intensity and where you should be working in order to achieve your goals.

Number one, of course, it’s going to be dependent on what your goals are. If you are somebody who is genuinely looking to increase your strength or looking to lose weight, tone up, the term we all often like to use, then you are going to have to be working upwards of a 6 or 7 RPE. So putting yourself into that zone where you are getting that intensity up and applying a certain level of stress on your body and sympathetic nervous system to create small adaptations, here you are struggling to hold a conversation, you are feeling a bit breathless and you are feeling the sweat start. That is the zone that you need to be in to actually see progress. Going for a light or moderate walk or jog is great, however that is something that our body can become accustomed to quite quickly. So you’re not generally going to see progress in your fitness or body composition over a long period of time if you are always doing the same activity without increasing the intensity. Yes, it has amazing benefits to be working in that zone, but if we really do want to achieve the results we desire then an increase in intensity is needed to achieve different results. So just like that quote always says, if you want to achieve something different, you’ve got to start doing something different. 

Ultimately if your goal is to lose weight or build muscle and work on your body composition, then let’s get you in the zone of working from that hard to very hard state and apply adequate rest and tidy up your nutrition.