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How Intense Should Your Work Out Be?

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After a lot of years training adults of all abilities and ages, I’ve learned one thing really well: few adults like high-intensity exercise.

As a trainer, I know high intensity is the best bang for your buck: a few short and intense work outs each week are going to get you fitter faster than more frequent moderate work outs. You can find plenty of science online that explains the advantages of high-intensity interval training (HIIT) like this one at ACE Fitness.

What do the different intensity work outs look like? Take a look at the picture of me above and the heart rate data below.

Upper image is heart rate data from a session in New Moon Fitness studio. The bottom is from a CrossFit class at Exodus CrossFit Coralville.

The top image shows a 50 minute work out with heart rates mostly in the 50%-70% of maximum range. This work out is moderate intensity with steady work throughout. You can see the regular spikes which reflect sets of weight lifting, a routine of 4 sets each of push presses, shrugs, lateral raises, rear delt rows, shoulder external rotation, leg raises, sit ups, and Russian twists.

The bottom image shows a 50 minute work out with one significant period of heart rates above 80%. This work out has alternating periods of intense work and near rest. The earlier 5 narrow red spikes reflect the strength part of the hour (five sets of push presses and pull ups). The wide red swath at the end reflects 10-minutes of a three round metcon (“metabolic conditioning”) of box jumps (power), deadlifts (60% max), and wall walks (inversion).

Those looking to lose weight, improve their insulin sensitivity, increase muscle, and improve aerobic capacity will find benefits from either work out. But the HIIT will get you there with less time in the gym. In fact, you can perform just the metcon like that mentioned above a few times a week and see significant improvements.

Which is the best? Whatever keeps you engaged is the best work out!

However, if you feel like trying high-intensity, visit crossfit.com to see their workout of the day (WOD). You can also visit a local CrossFit box…or give me a call.

#fitness #HIIT #crossfit #metcon

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