How Much Intensity Do You Need to Get Fit?

“Intensity” is a hot word in fitness — so how much of it do you need to accomplish your goals?

The answer is… just enough but not too much.

What is Intensity?

First, a definition: Intensity is [effectively] “how hard your body is working.”

  • Low intensity means your body is working at a submaximal level and can sustain this for a long period of time
  • At high levels of intensity, you’re straining at, or near, maximum effort to accomplish a task. You won’t be able to do this for a very long time

Overall workout intensity can be adjusted in many ways:

  • You can add more weight/resistance to a movement
  • You can increase or decrease the speed of the movement
  • You can increase the volume (sets and reps) of the movement
  • You can decrease your rest between sets
  • Best of all, you can use a combination of these things!

You can, and should, use both low and high intensity training to improve your fitness. What you will find is that low intensity training is used to improve your stamina and endurance and high intensity to improve your strength and power.

In recent years, Intensity has become a bit of a buzzword. This is especially true in the functional fitness and HIIT (high intensity interval training) camps. Athletes and trainers alike talk about intensity all the time and it’s easy to think more intensity is always better.

This isn’t the case.

How Much Intensity?

Side Note: this parlays well with our post on adding more workouts to your week. You should probably go read that one HERE.

While it’s true that intensity can help you get results in the gym, you’re not going to optimize your performance if you push to 100% every single day. In fact, you’ll eventually get beaten up, lose motivation, and potentially get injured.

Your body needs a precise does of intensity in each workout followed by a period of rest. Yes, you need to work hard in the gym, but you also need to work smart and then recover.

Contrast the individual who does a 1 rep max squat every day to the one who regularly lifts heavy loads in different ways to challenge their legs. Who do you think is going to get strong, become more durable, and still enjoy working out?

How do you know how much intensity you need? The answer to this question can be tricky.

Many people just go with the “more is better” approach in spite of the fact that their body begins to fight them and their performance decreases. Others don’t use enough intensity and don’t challenge their body enough to make it change. Some, very studious people, keep precise workout logs so they can determine how much intensity they need in their training (these people are rare).

The best plan? Work with a trained professional who can create an exercise plan that’s suited to your goals, your preferences, and your experience. That personal trainer will build in appropriate levels of intensity and recovery and then adjust the plan whenever needed. This might mean reducing workout intensity on a very stressful day or programming a “deload week” after a tough block of training.

Fitness professionals are experts when it comes to intensity and they’ll make sure you get “enough but not too much.”

We’d be happy to talk to you about intensity and training. Moreover, we can supply a plan that will help you accomplish your goals. To book your free consult, click HERE.

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