How hard should you workout? (The answer might surprise you)

Jan 29, 2020 | 0 comments

You want results and you want them fast. Otherwise you wouldn’t be reading this. 

You want to get leaner, stronger, and healthier. 

One factor which will have a massive impact on your results is the intensity you apply in your workouts. 

Unfortunately intensity is an often misunderstood concept, so the goal of this article is to clear up some of the confusion.

First off, what is intensity? From a scientific perspective, We can define intensity as how much work is done in what amount of time. (We don’t use measures like heart rate to define intensity because they are influenced by other variables)

For example, last week you ran 400 meters with a walking break in the middle, and today you did it without stopping? You’ve done the same work in less time. Hence, you have applied intensity in your training and you will get fitter as a result. Expect an increase in your endurance, stamina, and even strength levels!

Another example. Yesterday you back squatted 100 kg for a single rep, today you did 101? Intensity has increased and in return, your body will gift you with adaptation. 

In other words, intensity is not simply doing hard for the sake of hard, or working out for hours on end, it is very much a measurable and trackable parameter. 

Second, intensity is not the ONLY factor which gets you fitter, it is one of many. The key ingredient is VARIANCE, that is doing something your body isn’t used to doing. (Recovery is also of supreme importance, but that is beyond the scope of this article.)

Examples: You jog or walk the same distance every Saturday? Great, your body has long ago adapted to this stimulus and doing it one more time will yield you precisely nothing. 

What if you throw in some strength training into the mix? Now you have shocked the system. Expect to go down a pants size in the near future!

Conversely, do you hit the heavy weights every time you go to the gym? Try going for a swim next time! By varying the MODALITY or of your training, even if done at low intensity levels, you can expect a BIG payoff in terms of your health and fitness. 

You can also vary the total training volume, repetition speed and ranges, rest time between exercises, the possibilities are endless. The key is to constantly change things up for the best results. This is where CrossFit shines so beautifully.

(You can book a free meeting with me at CrossFit Jerusalem by hitting this link: https://app.acuityscheduling.com/schedule.php?owner=13876588)

Finally, should every workout be so intense that it leaves you lying on the ground having a seizure? Actually, no. You certainly should push the boundaries of what is comfortable to get the best results, but how hard and how often?

There’s no golden rule on this, but we want to be paying close attention to our bodies and our general mood to make sure we aren’t overdoing it. 

You can tear it up on most workouts if you are in your 20’s and in excellent health. But If you are knocking on 40 like I am, there will be weeks when you can go hard for multiple days, and other weeks where you might work with lighter weights and do some milder cardio sessions. If you are in your 60’s or 70’s you definitely still want to exercise vigorously, but make sure you are having fun, being safe and trying new things. My grandfather played tennis well into his 80’s and still rode his bike into his 90’s. Let’s see what he does in his 100’s!

Remember, intensity is 100% individual.You win when you challenge yourself with workouts that are appropriate for you!

If you try to lift too much weight to compete with the person next to you, and you do it with lousy form, you are likely to get hurt, which will equal a DECREASE in fitness. Kind of defeats the purpose doesn’t it? Now I am not casting blame, I have made this stupid mistake too many times to count. But the lesson is clear: Our priority is to establish excellent mechanics first. Then to increase intensity in a wise and progressive manner, ideally under the watchful eye of a trainer.

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