What do you do when you workout? Do you jump on the treadmill, elliptical or stationary bike? If you do, what else do you do? Read, check facebook, watch TV? If you are, you are focusing on other things besides your workout, which is fine if your main goal is to read, and you just happen to be mindlessly moving your legs while you do it. However, if your goal is to challenge your body, you’re going to need to focus on your workout. Some would even go as far as to suggest taking the earbuds out so that you can really listen to your body and focus on how you’re responding at different levels of intensity. The truth is, you must overload your body in order to create a change. It needs to endure more stress than you have put on it in the past if you want different results than what you have currently.
Let’s face it, you’re a busy person, so now that you actually made the time to get to the gym, you want to make it worth your while, right? You want to challenge yourself during a workout. Put the phone down, and get out of your comfort zone. Take a quick look at the people at the gym who are checking their email, reading a magazine, or watching TV. Chances are good that the majority of them probably do not appear to be working very hard. A good way to judge how hard you’re working (if you don’t have a heart rate monitor) is to use the talk test. How easily can you have a conversation? If you’re struggling to get words out and breathe at the same time, good, you’re working hard, keep it up. If you can easily carry a conversation, however, it’s time to kick it up a notch… or three.
If it doesn’t challenge you, it doesn’t change you. – Frank Devito
I suggest alternating between higher and lower levels of intensity. The shorter, but higher-insensity workouts will prove better in the end for various reasons. One of which, is that you will raise your resting metabolic rate, which means you will burn more calories at rest. You will have a greater EPOC, or Excess Post-exercise Oxygen Consumption level, which translates to your body is burning calories for a longer period after you complete your workout. Also known as the “afterburn.”
By working out at a higher intensity, you actually won’t have to spend as many hours in the gym. Workout harder, workout smarter. Check out some of my suggestions for interval training.