The Misconception that that your fitness routine has to be extremely challenging or a horrible experience in order to be effective
During my time as a Personal Trainer and Health Coach, I was confronted with many misconceptions about adopting and maintaining a fitness routine. In this post I’d like to share the most common misconceptions and the facts behind them. We’ll discover why high intensity exercise isn’t always the answer to progress, why a ridged schedule may not be as successful as a fluid one, and why just two days at the gym could be your key to success.
In this post I’ll focus on the first misconception; the idea that your fitness routine has to be extremely challenging or a horrible experience in order to be effective. The truth is we don’t burn more calories simply because our workout feels like torture. When we prioritize creating positive experiences that challenge us appropriately, we can exponentially increase the potential that we’ll come back and do it again. Enjoying what we do is essential to sustainability.
What Does the Research Say
Research on exercise adherence tells us that intensity is a major contributing factor. One study, published in the Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise Journal, demonstrated that while higher intensity exercise is associated with greater improvements in health, fitness, and longevity, it is also associated with poorer adherence. In other words, if we don’t enjoy what we’re doing, we won’t come back; and if we don’t come back, we can’t make any progress.
However, we still need a challenge. High intensity portions of a workout are important. Overloading, or challenging our bodies beyond how we’ve challenged them in the past, is an essential component of progress. The answer is finding some balance. An appropriately challenging intensity during exercise offers us progress and sustainability. Keep reading to learn how to manage your intensity during your next exercise session.
How to Manage Your Intensity During Exercise
Consider your own personal scale of intensity from 1 to 10. One being hardly any effort at all and 10 being the max effort you could give in that moment. To work at a light intensity, find your idea of a 3 to 4 and work there. To work at a moderate intensity, increase your efforts until you find your idea of a 5-7 and work there. Finally, to take portions of your work out into high intensity, find your idea of an 8-9 and work there. Whether you’re performing short bursts of exercise or longer bouts, check in regularly to see where you are on your personal scale and make adjustments accordingly.
A Few Tips for Success: Listen to your body and relax. Consider the time you’re about to take as self care rather than a punishment for a goal you’ve not met yet. Imagine the good you’re doing for your body and mind. You can earn “bonus points” for taking your exercise outdoors and adding some sunshine and nature.
Miller, F. L., O’Connor, D. P., Herring, M. P., Sailors, M. H., Jackson, A. S., Dishman, R. K., & Bray, M. S. (2014). Exercise dose, exercise adherence, and associated health outcomes in the TIGER study. Medicine and science in sports and exercise, 46(1), 69–75. https://doi.org/10.1249/MSS.0b013e3182a038b9