Friday, March 19, 2010

Are You Working Too Hard?

In my experience as a personal trainer, I've noticed there's two types of newbie exercisers: Those that don't work hard enough and those that work too hard.

Don't fall into either of these traps! Knowing how hard you're working will ensure that you get fit injury free, actually see progress and maximize your workout time.

Below are 3 ways to determine how hard you're working:

Percentage of Heart Rate Max
220-your age=estimated maximum heart rate (HR)
Estimated maximum HR X % (take it X 55% - 85%)=Target HR range

Once you've calculated your range, work within the percentages.

If you're just starting out, work on the lower end of the range. As you get fitter, you'll need to adjust how hard you're working. Your body will also be able to work at the higher end of the range.

Talk Test
During your cardio workout, you should be able to speak but not sing. If you can't speak, you're working too hard. If you can sing (or say a full sentence without feeling a little breathless), you're not working hard enough.


Rate of Perceived Exertion
0 No exertion
.5 Very, very weak
1 Very weak
2 Weak
3 Moderate
4 Somewhat strong
5-6 Strong
7-9 Very Strong
10 Extremely strong
* Maximal

These numbers are based on how you feel during your exercise, based on how hard your breathing, how your muscles feel, etc. This is a great way to learn to listen to do your body.

When your a newbie, work somewhere between numbers 3-5.

So, which one of these tests should you use? I suggest a combination of all of them at first. Find your Target Heart Rate Range. As you're working within your target heart rate, use the talk test, plus listen to how your body feels to learn your Rate of Perceived Exertion. As you get used to it, use the Rate of Perceived Exertion/Talk Test more than relying on the Target Heart Rate.

As you get fit, you can start doing workouts with intervals in them...we'll discuss this in another blog.

The next time you do your favorite cardio workout, try one (or all) of these. If you're an over-worker, you may be surprised at how much more enjoyable your workout become. If you're an under-worker, you'll be pleased with the results!

Questions? Write us in the comment section below, we'll get back with you!