Intensity. There, right up front. Along with it's sister, Consistency, they are the dynamic duo and without both you will never have any success with your fitness goals.
Your body reacts and responds to stressors, good and bad. It responds so it can prepare itself for that same stressors should it come around again. When a physical stress is placed on the body, such as a heavy weight, your body will respond by rebuilding those muscles and making them stronger and more durable. Then, should the heavy weight rear its ugly head again, the muscle is adequately equipped to handle it. Your body is constantly responding and adapting. However, if your intensity in any given activity is not high enough to overload your body, then your body simply has no reason to adapt.
How do you measure Intensity?
If intensity is so important, how do I measure it? How do I know if I am working hard enough? Both great questions! There are a few methods that have been developed over the years to try and calculate the appropriate intensity levels. But it is a particularly difficult task as intensity can be very subjective, and it is all relative. What one person experiences as incredibly difficult, might be a breeze for someone who has been training for years. Additionally, and quite frankly, some people are just plain “tougher” than others. Therefore, they are all estimates. There is no “the best”, it requires self-awareness, honesty, and adjustments. Lastly, your own threshold for what you perceive as difficult will change overtime. Not only will your body adapt and harden, but so will your mind.
Rating of Perceived Exertion (RPE): Using the RPE is the simplest and most straight-forward way of monitoring your intensity. Notice the word “perceived”; this just provides a simple way to articulate and track how your body feels during any bout of exercise. As you get stronger, the same workload will feel easier and lighter, and that’s how you know it is time to increase your intensity. There are slight variations to the two scales listed below, depending on who produced it, but the idea remains the same. On the scale, 1 is lounging around watching TV and 10 is the absolute most you can do – you can’t push any harder or run any faster and your legs are going to give out at any moment. The majority of your exercise needs to be around the 6-8 range, depending on the activity and the duration. This range is where there is enough of a stimulus to elicit a positive response from your body, but not too intense such that it can’t be maintained long enough to get any real amount of work accomplished. The really cool thing about the RPE scale is that it is a relative measurement. In the beginning, executing 5 push-ups might register as a "9", or more. But in a few weeks, those 5 push-ups will only feel like a "4". You would then have to do 10 push-ups to get your body to respond.
Intensity, without it, you are wasting your time. Want to read the full, FREE ebook? Contact firstname.lastname@example.org to receive your free copy. Go out and Live Your Success Story!
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