How To Determine The Ideal Intensity For Your Workout

How to determine the best intensity for your workout.

Fitness is a fairly recent trend that emerged in the early 70s, thanks to its importance being stressed upon by pop culture and mass media. However, the concept of physical exercise has been around since the dawn of mankind. The Early Man took to exercise not in an attempt to remain fit, but as a way of life. Running away from danger, and walking several hundred kilometres for finding food were essential to remain alive.1

Today, owing to our rapidly-changing and sedentary lifestyle, we get little or no physical activity. It has become necessary for us to exercise and remain physically fit. However, the abundant information available on the internet regarding exercise and fitness could be confusing, if you are only starting off. Here are some pointers that will help you to determine the exercise intensity that is best for your body.

3 Methods To Determine The Best Intensity

Here are ways to decide what exercise intensity is suitable for you. If you are a beginner, it is best to

stick to moderately intense exercises before moving on to the more vigorous ones.

1. The Talk Test

If you can talk while exercising, the workout is moderately intense.

The talk test is an effective method to measure the exercise intensity. When you are exercising, if you are able to talk comprehensibly, then your exercise routine is moderately intense. If you can sing as you workout, then you need to pace up the intensity. If you are able to speak a few words before running short of breath, it means that your routine is vigorous.

Brisk walking, ballroom dancing, general gardening, cycling, and water aerobics are moderately intense, while running, aerobic dancing, jumping rope, hiking, and swimming belong to the vigorous category.2

2. Monitor Your Heart Rate

Monitor your heart rate to find out your workout intensity,

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Another way to measure your exercise intensity is to track the target heart rate during a workout. You can monitor your heart rate by checking your pulse during a workout, or by wearing a fitness band that measures your cardiovascular activity. However, this method might not work for you if you are under medication that alters your heart rate.

For A Moderately Intense Workout

For a moderately intense workout, the target heart rate should be around 50 to 70 percent of your maximum heart rate. To determine your maximum heart rate, subtract your age from 220. For example, if you are 30 years old, your maximum heart rate would be 190 beats per minute (bpm), and your target heart rate would ideally lie between 95 and 133 bpm.3

For A Vigorously Intense Workout

For a vigorous workout, your heart rate should be around 70 to 85 percent of your maximum heart rate. For example, if you are 30 years old, your maximum heart rate would be

190 bpm, but your target heart rate when you exercise vigorously would range from 133 bpm to 162 bpm.4

3. Perceived Extension

You can perceive how intense your workout is, based on the RPE method.

The Borg Rating of Perceived Exertion (RPE) is a simple way to figure out how intense your workout is. The RPE states that you can perceive the intensity of your workout is, by examining how your body reacts to it. This estimation is subjective, but fairly accurate. The intensity of the workout can be determined by looking at muscle fatigue, heightened heart rate, increased respiration, and increased sweating. If you feel that the workout is “easy”, you can crank it up a notch, and move to the more intense exercises. If the workout is “very difficult”, and if your body is unable to take it, slow down and move back to

the moderately intense exercises.5

It is important for you to work out based on the intensity that your body can handle. If you exercise more than what your body is capable of handling, you might be susceptible to injury. If your fitness level is low, or if you are only starting off, remember to ease into the work out with exercises that are suitable for you, and gradually move onto the more demanding exercises.6