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Is Your Workout Intense Enough?

Posted Nov 29 2008 12:27pm
Mine, sure ain't...just watch me at the gym. I am usually resting longer than I should, lowering my weights, skipping the last set of stretches, slowing down the treadmill, or switching to an easier exercise if possible. Would somebody call me out on this when you see me?

This is the part of the post where you should do as I say, not as I do! My experience is that when individuals consistently push themselves past their 'comfort zone' they are more effective and efficient at reaching their goals. The phrase 'no pain, no gain' is a little extreme, but you can't expect long term results without challenging yourself to a higher level.

This is supported by the principle of overload which states that a greater than normal stress or load on the body is required for training adaptation to take place. SO THERE!

The term intensity is another way to describe how tough your workout is. Using the RPE scale or Rating of Perceived Exertion is a good way to monitor and rate the workout intensity for yourself. Use a scale of 1-10 (very easy to very hard).

Cardio: Mix of Intensity throughout the week
  • Long, slow, and lower intense cardio day - 4-6 RPE
  • Short, fast, and higher intense cardio day - 7-9 RPE


  • The stretch should not feel more than a -7 or 8 RPE

Strength Training:

  • Intensity for strength training is normally a % of the one repetition max for a given exercise, but all I really want to see is that the toughest repetition fall somewhere in your repetition range. Get to the point where you could not do another one (or would want to).

I'm not saying you need to kill yourself at the gym everyday, that actually could backfire on you. I'm saying that each time you workout try for just one more rep, a little bit longer on the elliptical, the next weight up, or a little faster pace than the last time.

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