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Exercise Intensity

Posted in Crazy Wisdom,Workout on Wednesday, March 14, 2007 at 7:51 pm by flerly.

How Hard Should You Work?

When doing cardio, you should be within your target heart rate (THR) zone. A target heart rate calculator can help you determine your THR or keep track of how you feel with the perceived exertion chart. Always be aware of how you feel when you exercise. If you feel dizzy or lightheaded, stop immediately and rest or call your doctor. If you’re not breaking a sweat, speed it up!

Variety will keep your body and your mind challenged, so after the initial conditioning period(about 6 weeks of consistent workouts), vary your workout intensity and time. Each week, do a long, slow workout–45-60 minutes at the lower end of your THR and one short one–20-30 minutes at the higher end of your THR. Your other workouts can be between 30-45 minutes, in the middle of your THR.

When exercising, it’s important to monitor your intensity to make sure you’re working at a pace that is challenging enough to help you reach your goals, but not so hard that you blow a lung. One way to do that is to use a Perceived Exertion Scale. The standard is the Borg Scale of Perceived Exertion, which ranges from 0-20. Because I’m a math-idiot, I made up my own scale (see below) that’s a little easier to remember. In general, for most workouts you want to be at around Level 5-6. If you’re doing interval training, you want your recovery to be around a 4-5 and your intensity blasts to be at around 8-9. As you’ll see below, working at a level 10 isn’t recommended for most workouts. For longer, slower workouts, keep your PE at Level 5 or lower.

Level 1: I’m watching TV and eating bon bons
Level 2: I’m comfortable and could maintain this pace all day long
Level 3: I’m still comfortable, but am breathing a bit harder
Level 4: I’m sweating a little, but feel good and can carry on a conversation effortlessly
Level 5: I’m just above comfortable, am sweating more and can still talk easily
Level 6: I can still talk, but am slightly breathless
Level 7: I can still talk, but I don’t really want to. I’m sweating like a pig
Level 8: I can grunt in response to your questions and can only keep this pace for a short time period
Level 9: I am probably going to die
Level 10: I am dead

The Initial Conditioning Period: How to Begin!

Choose an activity that you enjoy. The best exercise for you is the one you’ll actually do! Walking is a great place to start since it doesn’t require special equipment and you can do it anywhere

Start with 2 or 3 days of your chosen activity with a rest day between workouts.

Begin with a 5-10 minute warm up of light cardio and stretch the muscles you’ll use during your workout

Increase your pace and intensity to slightly harder than comfortable and exercise as long as you can.

Begin where you ARE, not where you want to be. You may only be able to exercise for a few minutes at a time, but that will change quickly if you’re consistent.

End each workout with a 5-minute cool down of light cardio and stretch the muscles you’ve worked to help keep your muscles flexible and reduce your chances of injury.

Each week, increase your workout time by a few minutes until you can work continuously for 30 minutes a session.

Don’t worry about distance or pace. For the first few weeks, focus on endurance and conditioning. You have plenty of time to work on your speed and distance!

After 6 or more weeks, change your routine by adding another day of exercise, increasing your pace/intensity, adding a new activity and/or increasing the amount of time you exercise

Tips for Better Workouts

Make sure you have quality shoes for your chosen activity.

Start slowly. Doing too much too soon can lead to injuries and misery.

Try new activities. Doing the same thing can lead to plateaus, boredom and injuries.

Be ready for exercise by feeding your body regularly throughout the day and by staying hydrated.

Always stretch both after you warm up and after your workout!

If you’re sore or tired, give yourself extra recovery days if needed.


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