Training intensity: how to measure
Get the most out of your workout by knowing how to measure your workout intensity.
Get the most out of your workout by knowing how to measure your workout intensity.By the staff at the Mayo Clinic
When you play sports, do you work hard or not? Exercising at the right intensity can help you get the most out of your physical activity - make sure you don't push yourself too hard or too little. Here's a look at what training intensity means and how to maximize your training.
Choosing your workout intensity
How hard should you train? The Department of Health and Human Services recommends these exercise guidelines for most healthy adults:
aerobic activity.Do at least 150 minutes a week of moderate aerobic activity – such as brisk walking, swimming or mowing the lawn – or 75 minutes a week of vigorous aerobic activity – such as jogging or aerobic dancing. You can also do a combination of moderate and vigorous activity. It's best to do this over the course of a week. You may gain more health benefits by increasing your exercise to 300 minutes or more of moderate aerobic activity per week.
Even small amounts of physical activity are helpful, and activity spread throughout the day increases health benefits.
- weight training.Do strength training for all major muscle groups at least twice a week. Consider free weights, weight machines, or activities that use your own body weight – like rock climbing or heavy gardening. Or try squats, planks or lunges. Aim to do a single set of each exercise with a weight or resistance level heavy enough to tire your muscles after about 12 to 15 repetitions.
Your exercise intensity generally needs to be at a moderate or vigorous level to get the maximum benefit. The more intense or longer your activity when trying to lose weight, the more calories you burn.
Balance is still important. Overdoing it can increase your risk of sore muscles, injury, and burnout. Start with a light intensity if you are new to exercise. Gradually increase to moderate or vigorous intensity.
Consider your reasons for exercising. Do you want to improve your fitness, lose weight, train for a competition, or do a combination of both? Your answer will help determine the appropriate training intensity.
Be realistic and don't challenge yourself too fast and too hard. Fitness is a lifetime commitment, not a race to the finish line. Talk to your doctor if you have a health problem or are not sure how hard to exercise.
Understand exercise intensity
An activity tracker can be used to count steps, determine distance traveled, and monitor other fitness information.
When you do aerobic activities like walking or cycling, the intensity of the exercise correlates with how difficult the activity is for you. The intensity of the workout is also reflected in your breathing and heart rate, whether you're sweating and how tired your muscles are.
There are two basic ways to measure exercise intensity:
- How are you feeling.Exercise intensity is a subjective measure of how difficult the physical activity is while you are doing it - your perceived exertion. Your perceived level of exertion may differ from what someone else feels doing the same exercise. For example, what looks like a hard run to you might look like a light workout to someone fitter.
- your heart rate.Your heart rate provides a more objective view of exercise intensity. In general, the higher the heart rate during physical activity, the higher the training intensity.
Perceived exertion may not always match your heart rate and it depends on the person. But it can be a general guide to measuring your level of effort. If you feel like you're working hard, chances are your heart rate is higher than normal.
You can use both methods to measure exercise intensity. If you're into technology, you can check your heart rate with an activity tracker that includes a heart rate monitor. If you feel that you are in tune with your body and your level of exertion, you can probably do without a monitor.
Measure intensity based on how you feel
Here are some tips to help you gauge exercise intensity.
Moderate training intensity
Moderate activity feels a bit harsh. Here are indications that your exercise intensity is at a moderate level:
- Your breathing quickens, but you're not out of breath.
- After about 10 minutes of activity, you start to sweat slightly.
- You can talk, but not sing.
Vigorous exercise intensity
Vigorous activity feels challenging. Here are indications that your exercise intensity is at a high level:
- His breathing is deep and fast.
- You will start to sweat after a few minutes of activity.
- You cannot say more than a few words without stopping for breath.
trying too hard
Be careful not to try too hard too often. If you're short of breath, in pain, or unable to exercise for as long as you planned, your exercise intensity is probably higher than your fitness level allows. Take a step back and gradually increase the intensity.
Mayo Clinic Minute: How to Reach Your Goal Heart Rate
Regular exercise can make your heart stronger and more efficient.
“Well, we want that target heart rate zone. And that means working hard enough for our heart to get beneficial activity and movement.”
Dr Ed Laskowski, co-director of Mayo Clinic Sports Medicine, says you should get about 30 minutes of moderate activity at least five days a week.
"And moderate is something you are - you're breathing heavily, but you can still talk."
This should put your heart rate on target, and studies show that the amount of exertion we feel correlates very well with our heart rate.
“We have good blood flow. We train our heart muscle to work more efficiently and... actually make it stronger. So if we don't do that – if we do something too easy – we won't get as many beneficial effects.”
dr Laskowski says the actual numbers aren't as important as the impact.
"As long as we feel like we're working moderately hard and ... we're getting good activity, we're doing good things for ourselves."
Para a Mayo Clinic News Network, sou Ian Roth.
Intensity measurement based on your heart rate
Another way to measure your exercise intensity is to see how hard your heart is during physical activity. To use this method, you must first determine your maximum heart rate - the upper limit of what your cardiovascular system can handle during physical activity.
You can calculate your maximum heart rate by subtracting your age from 220. For example, if you are 45 years old, subtract 45 from 220 to get a maximum heart rate of 175. This is the average maximum number of times your heart should beat per minute during exercise.
Once you know your maximum heart rate, you can calculate your desired target heart rate zone - the level at which your heart is exercised and conditioned, but not taxed.
The American Heart Association generally recommends a target heart rate of:
- Moderate training intensity: 50% to about 70% of your maximum heart rate
- Intense training intensity: 70% to about 85% of your maximum heart rate
If you're not in shape or just starting an exercise program, aim for the lower end of your target heart rate zone. Then gradually increase the intensity. If you are healthy and want to train at a high intensity, go for the upper end of the zone.
How to determine your target heart rate zone
Use an online calculator to determine your desired target heart rate zone. Or here is an easy way to do the calculation yourself. If you aim for a target heart rate in the 70% to 85% range, you can calculate it using the heart rate reserve (HRR) method as follows:
- Subtract your age from 220 to get your maximum heart rate.
- Calculate your resting heart rate by counting how many times your heart beats per minute when you are at rest, for example. B. first thing in the morning. It is usually between 60 and 100 beats per minute for the average adult.
- Calculate your heart rate reserve (HRR) by subtracting your resting heart rate from your maximum heart rate.
- multiply yourHRRby 0.7 (70%). Add your resting heart rate to that number.
- multiply yourHRRby 0.85 (85%). Add your resting heart rate to that number.
- These two numbers are your average target heart rate zone for hard training intensity when using theHRRto calculate your heart rate. Your heart rate during intense physical activity should generally be between these two values.
Let's say you're 45 years old and want to find your target heart rate zone for intense exercise usingHRRMethod. Follow these steps:
- First subtract 45 from 220 to get 175 - this is your maximum heart rate.
- Then, first thing in the morning, check your resting heart rate. Let's say it's 80 beats per minute. calculate yourHRRsubtracting 80 from 175HRRit's 95
- Multiply 95 by 0.7 (70%) to get 66.5 and add your resting heart rate from 80 to get 146.5.
- Now multiply 95 by 0.85 (85%) to get 80.75, then add your resting heart rate from 80 to get 160.75.
- Your target heart rate zone for intense exercise is between 146.5 and 160.75 beats per minute.
How to know if you are in the zone
So how do you know if you're in your target heart rate zone? You can use an activity tracker to regularly check your heart rate while exercising.
Or follow these steps to check your heart rate during exercise:
- It seems briefly.
- Measure your heart rate for 15 seconds. To measure your heart rate through the carotid artery, place your index finger and middle finger on the side of your neck, close to your windpipe. To measure the pulse at the wrist, place two fingers between the bone and tendon over the radial artery - which is on the thumb side of the wrist.
- Multiply that number by 4 to calculate your beats per minute.
Here's an example: you stop exercising and measure your heart rate for 15 seconds, getting 37 beats. Multiply 37 by 4 to get 148. If you are 45 years old, you are in the target heart rate zone for intense exercise because the target heart rate zone for that age is between 146.5 and 160.75 beats per minute when using OHRRMethod. If you are below or above your target heart rate zone, adjust your training intensity.
Target heart rate tips
It is important to note that maximum heart rate is a guide only. They may have a higher or lower maximum heart rate, sometimes as low as 15 to 20 beats per minute. If you want a more accurate range, consider discussing your target heart rate zone with an exercise physiologist or personal trainer.
In general, only elite athletes are interested in this level of accuracy. You can also use slightly different calculations that take into account gender differences in target heart rate zones. These differences are so small that most casual athletes don't need separate calculations for men and women.
Also note that different types of medications, including some blood pressure lowering medications, can lower your maximum heart rate and then your target heart rate zone. Consult your physician if your medication or medical condition requires you to use a lower target heart rate zone.
Interestingly, research shows that interval training, which involves short bouts (about 15 to 60 seconds) of high-intensity exercise alternated with longer, less strenuous exercise throughout the workout, is well tolerated. It is even safe for people with heart disease and type 2 diabetes. This type of exercise is also very effective for increasing cardiovascular fitness and promoting weight loss.
Reap the rewards of training intensity
You'll get the most out of your workout when you exercise at the right exercise intensity for your health and fitness goals. If you don't feel any exertion or if your heart rate is too slow, increase your pace. If you're worried that you're pushing yourself too hard or that your heart rate is too high, slow down.
Before starting any intense exercise program, you should talk to your doctor. He or she might suggest that you run some tests first. This can be the case for people with diabetes or more than one risk factor for heart disease, as well as men over 45 and women over 55.
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June 17, 2021
- Physical activity guidelines for Americans. 2nd ed. US Department of Health and Human Services. https://health.gov/paguidelines/second-edition. Accessed April 16, 2019.
- Know your heart rate goals for exercise, weight loss and health. American Heart Association. https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/fitness/fitness-basics/target-heart-rates. Accessed April 17, 2019.
- Ask MayoExpert. Physical activity (adult). Rochester, Minnesota: Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research; 2019
- Fletcher GF, and others. Practical standards for testing and training: a scientific statement from the American Heart Association. Traffic. 2013;128:873.
- Riebe D, et al., editors ACSM Guidelines for Exercise Testing and Prescription. 10th edition Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: Wolters Kluwer Health Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2018
- Bushman BA, et al., editors ACSM Resources for the Personal Trainer. 5th Edition Philadelphia, Pa.: Wolters Kluwer Health Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2017
- Laskowski ER (reporter). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. April 22,
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