We Take the Intensity Challenge Pt. 1

Exploring Intensity

We Take the Intensity Challenge Pt. 1

In our Cardio High gym/lab we have noticed the obvious: Some exercises drive up your heart rate more than others. And when we look at “intense” workouts, like the famed New York Times 7 Minute Workout, we notice that there are quite a few that would not fit our definition of a high intensity exercise.

Last week we donned our lab coats to measure the intensity of some of our common movements. Our test was highly subjective and had a data set of n=1. Our methodology for testing;

We found more consistent results allowing out heart rate (HR) to fall instead of trying to spike it up from a resting HR to its peak. We (Derric joined as coach/motivator) ran on our Woodway treadmill until our HR hit 90% of max (zone 5). Then we performed the following four exercises for either 60 seconds or until the heart rate stopped falling. We repeated the process twice for each exercise. Our (again, subjective) results:


fitness ball cardio high gym auburndaleRoll out on a stability ball

Score:  Zone 1
HR: 57% of max

This movement is essentially doing a plank on a stability ball and rolling the ball away from the body and back in to center. It’s an excellent core strengthening exercise that we include at the start of many of our workout programs. And while it was pretty low intensity for us, we have noticed it pushes some clients into zone 3 or 4.

Back lunge with a front kick

Score:  Zone 3
HR: 72% of max

This movement is as named — do a back lunge and then kick forward the same leg. We do not change legs until the end of the interval. We use this movement early in programs because it’s an excellent dynamic movement that actively stretches the hip flexors and hamstrings. And it started to get our blood pumping.

mountain climbers on sliders cardio high gym auburndaleMountain climbers on sliders

Score:  Zone 4
HR: 82% of max

This is when things started to get interesting. The Movement starts in push-up position with feet on sliders and then the feet slide quickly back and forth. As this test showed, it raises the heart rate with minimal joint impact and requires the use of most of the large muscle groups in the body, and we include it in almost every Cardio High program.

Lateral box hop on 12” plyo box

Score:  Zone 4
HR: 83% of max

This movement is hopping over a small plyo box. We like this movement because the landings are soft (when done correctly). We include this exercise in many Cardio High programs because we like lateral movements, and it’s easy to adapt to various levels by altering the box/step height or the tempo.