Almost daily clients ask me how they may increase the intensity of their workouts and so, this week, eight tips for increasing your workout intensity will be featured. While not exhaustive, these eight tips are effective if applied properly, following the protocols closely. As always, prior to beginning any exercise program, please consult your physician.
Tip #1 Functional threshold testing, and there are several types of assessments that may be utilized to determine this intensity spectrum, is an effective process to provide you with a target heart rate zone which then is utilized to guide your intensity during your workout. This test must be performed by a fitness professional trained to administer these tests and should be performed periodically to track progress. Understanding where your heart rate should be to elicit the results you desire, may provide you with the information to achieve the intensity level you seek – so get tested!
Tip #2 Utilize a heart rate tracking device such as a heart rate monitor. While there are dozens of variations on the theme, a basic heart rate monitor that provides data regarding heart rate, caloric expenditure and creates a file for tracking, is adequate. Since you will have had the threshold test performed, you then may program your heart rate monitor to reflect the accurate target heart rate zone.
Tip #3 During muscular strength training, adding intensity would include an increase in the load (recommendations of 2.5 percent increase), an increase in repetitions (this is perhaps from 8 to 12 repetitions, then once you are able to perform 12 repetitions without achieving momentary muscle failure, you would increase the load and decrease the repetitions) or increase the number of sets depending upon the specific training program you are performing.
Tip #4 Regarding muscular strength training, when interval training in a circuit format, make certain you are not taking long breaks between your sets and your stations. In order for the intensity to remain high enough to elicit the intensity parameter component, the work must continue at a high enough level throughout the training session. *How do you know that the intensity level was high enough? Check your heart rate monitor data!
Tip #5 Use a full range of motion with the majority of your training movement patterns. The larger the ROM (range of motion), the more energy is required to move that body part. The more energy expended, the higher the intensity level.
Tip #6 During cardiovascular/aerobic conditioning programs, including high intensity interval training (HIIT), two-three non-consecutive days/week will definitely increase intensity of the overall program. However, true HIIT requires you to authentically become completely winded/gasping for air during the exertion interval or the benefits will not materialize to the desired level.
Tip #7 Make certain that your program is varied and includes the five primary movement patterns (i.e. squatting/lunging/pushing/pulling and rotating) and is tri-planar including all three planes of motion (i.e. sagittal/frontal/transverse). This definitely increases intensity particularly if you have just been training body parts performing only isolation type training. Isolation training has its place, and certainly may be intense, but nothing takes the place of full body movement engaging the entire body!
Tip #8 Slow down muscular strength training tempo and increase the level of power training.