Are you really pushing yourself or are you taking it easy? A simple guideline and a test you can do anywhere reveal where you stand.
“Moderate” Or “Vigorous”?
Have you ever taken one of those online health and fitness tests? Or tried calculating your daily calories burnt?
Then you came along a question that went something like “how many hours of moderate and vigorous exercise do you engage in per week?”
So what’s “moderate” or “vigorous” intensity? Methinks that important to know when you want to find out if you train hard enough for muscle growth. The same when you count calories lost from exercise to lose weight, as lower intensity burns fewer calories.
But those sites never mention how to gauge your intensity, even when it’s so easy to find out.
Let’s start explaining this with weightlifting, where it’s not how much weight you push, but how the weight pushes you. If you use a weight where you can do…
- more than 15 reps, your intensity is very low
- 12 – 15 reps, your intensity is low
- 6 – 12 reps, your intensity is medium
- 5 – 8 reps, the intensity is high
- 1 – 5 reps, the intensity is very high
Everything up to the 12 rep range you can classify as “vigorous” next time you fill out one of these tests.
A crucial mistake you have to watch out for when counting your reps is to not do an arbitrary number and then declare that as “high” intensity. It’s not high intensity when you do 5 reps and stop, but could have done 5, 10 or 15 more.
And don’t forget that beginning with 15 reps per set, you won’t train muscle growth.
In Endurance Sports
I have seen a number of sites that explain running, cycling etc. intensity as something that’s down to mph, but that’s shortsighted. My vigorous intensity in mph when running is probably somewhere around Usain Bolt’s warm-up speed on a bad day with the wind against him.
A precise way to judge your intensity is through looking at your current heart rate and comparing it to your maximum. On the other hand, that requires equipment and to find out at what intensity you are at, you can do something much more simple.
I call it the “can you still talk?” test, but most people just refer to the “talk test.” When you go running (or biking, inline skating or whatever else) and can…
- hold a full conversation, you are at low intensity
- form complete sentences, you are at medium intensity
- utter only single words, you are at high intensity
Both medium and high intensity I classify as “vigorous” here.
You can also use this for judging your intensity with weights. I’m looking at all of you giving themselves a pep talk throughout their entire set. But on a more serious note, looking at the rep ranges is more reliable in that case.
Picture courtesy of “lululemon“.