How Hard Should I Workout?

Exploring Intensity

How Hard Should I Workout?

We get asked the following question quite a bit at Cardio High: How hard should I workout? Should I be in the orange zone (80% of heart rate max) for 20 minutes? We answer the question in the following four semi-vague replies:

1. Monitor how you feel. If you finish a workout and then find that you have great energy for the rest of the day, then that’s a good level for you. If you finish a workout – and then find that you’re so tired you end up snoozing on the couch (or at your desk) for much of the day, then you probably went a bit too hard (or had too much to drink the night before).

2. It depends upon your goals. If you want to max calorie burn in your hour at Cardio High, then you need to comfortably push above 80% of heart rate max for at least 2o-25 minutes of the workout. If you are training for a stop/start sport, then push hard during sprints and recover in between. If you are just exercising for good health, then find the level that feels the best to you. For some people working out at 90%+ of heart rate max feels the best because the body releases all sorts of its own pain killers (not just endorphins) when you hit a high intensity. For others 90%+ does not feel good.

3. Go at your own pace. Don’t compare yourself to others. Compare your current workout to past workouts.

4. If you worked out hard yesterday, aim for more of a non-stop even pace at 70-85% of heart rate max.

– M. Goodman

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