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.

Will Intermittent fasting Help me Lose Weight?

Intermittent fasting is the hottest topic in diet related research and for good reason. Age old wisdom backed by preliminary research shows that abstaining from food for lengths of time can deliver truckloads of benefits. Fasting can improve metabolic and...

How to Strengthen your Abs to Get Rid of Back Pain Permanently

17 years ago my life changed forever in the blink of an eye. I was playing (American style) Football with friends and I stretched out to catch a pass. I got a hold of the ball but before I had a chance to regain my footing I was smashed by two guys coming in from...

Do You Have Any Idea of What You’re Capable Of?

You Are Capable of Genuine Happiness. I’m talking about that real contented feeling in your chest that comes not from ACCOMPLISHING any one thing in particular but from accepting and loving your life, not in spite of its imperfections but BECAUSE of them.  You are...

These Two Primal Exercises are the Foundation of Any Exercise Program

These Two Primal Exercises are the Foundation of Any Exercise ProgramThe year is 180,000 BC. It is early morning, but already the hot sun bakes the African plain. A new species of Hominid has been rapidly expanding across the continent. Their secret weapon?...

I Just Did A 3 Day Fast. Here’s the Top Lesson I Learned:

BlogIt is Sunday Morning, I just finished my workout, and I can’t believe I just went 70 hours without any calories! Last night was my first meal since Wednesday, I had vegetable soup and some spelt toast to break the fast.   The fast itself was challenging both...

How To Get Back To Fitness When You Are In A Rut: The Number One Rule Revealed!

When trying to change, be kind to yourself. I have never seen anyone truly succeed by beating the shit out of themselves or harping on what is flawed in themselves or their circumstances. Tiger Woods was (is?) the greatest golfer ever to play the game. But his drive...

Those Big Family/Holiday/Weekend Meals: A Two-pronged Approach for to Staying on Track

You know this story because it happens to all of us. You have a great week. You make it to the gym for multiple legendary workouts. Eating is clean. Work is going well. You look and feel great!  Then the weekend rolls arounds. So you allow yourself to splurge on...

A Tale of Two Sisters

(Names have been changed to protect privacy) Kate and Judith are sisters. Like many parents, they have never put their own health and fitness as a priority, and over the years they’ve gained weight and seen their energy levels decline. Tired of being overweight and...

Will Lifting Weights Make You Bulky?

When I was experiencing the most severe pain of my back injury, the worst part wasn’t the physical pain. It was the humiliation of not being able to instruct my body to perform on demand. I literally couldn’t put my shoes on in the morning, but I insisted on doing it...

How should I lose weight? (Tell me exactly what to do Josh!)

Did you know that the word Diet comes from the Greek word Diaita, which means Way of Life?   For many people, the word Diet is associated with periods of restriction, sometimes extreme, followed by periods of reckless abandon, during which the loathing is deep....