How High-Intensity “Tricks” You Into Becoming Fitter

Exploring Intensity

How High-Intensity “Tricks” You Into Becoming Fitter

There is a lot to intensity that goes beyond our heart rate. One thing is how we feel about an intense activity, before, during and after. If we feel that we’re about to go up against an exercise that we expect to absolutely kill us, then we’re not going to bare our teeth and attack it with all our might. Instead we’ll be intimidated and defensive and not break nearly the same kind of sweat. Same for the feelings post-exercise: if you come away from a workout beaten down, then you won’t be operating at your peak the next time you have to face it.

This is called Reported Perceived Exertion (RPE) and it has become a great way to see how our minds affect our bodies when it comes to intense activities. And using RPE, a new study has shown evidence that shorter bursts of intensity can make someone feel more confident and potentially “trick” them into actually working harder.

The study took twenty overweight males and females who were fairly inactive. In other words, searching out these subjects provided them with people who are averse enough to exercise that they especially would be able to offer how they felt before, during and after an intense activity. They then ran them through intervals that were 30 sec. on/off, 60 sec. on/off and two minutes on/off, each for 24 minutes total. They also had them do 20 minutes of exercise with no breaks.

The two minutes on/off, when it came to RPE, was the scariest for the group, while the 30 seconds on/off was perceived as the easiest. Now, this was before they actually did the exercises, so you may expect them to realize there was no difference after. But, in fact, they still felt that the 30-second intervals were easier than the 120, even though by the end it was the same amount of exertion. Not only that, but they perceived less exertion doing these intervals than a straight 20 minutes of exercise, even though that was at a lower intensity.

Once again, we see evidence that the best exercise is intense exercise, and that if you don’t think you’re pushing yourself to your limit, cut down your intervals. Find out what kind of superhero you can be 30 seconds at a time.