Intensity Reserve

20130223-131622.jpgLet’s assume you’ve already built the habit of working out…let’s also assume motivation is not a problem for you…let’s also assume you go to the gym and workout with weights regularly 3-5 times per week.

How much intensity should you put into each workout? How hard do you really have to hit it to get noticeable results? How much is too much?

These are all good questions and the answer is something you’ll have to discover for yourself.

As the title of this post suggests you have an ‘intensity reserve’ of energy and once it’s used up there simply is no more. The tricky thing is some of your high intensity energy can get used up outside of the gym. A highly stressful day at work or a highly emotionally charged interaction can drain your intensity reserve even though you haven’t exerted yourself physically.

For most people 5-7 hours of highly intense exercise per week should be manageable without hitting a point where you feel totally burned out. Any more exercise past this range will have to be lower intensity. For example you could do 5 hours of highly intense weight training work this week, and do 5 more hours of low intensity cardio such as walking.

On the other hand you’d likely burn out and get injured if you attempted to combine 5 hours of high intensity weight training with 5 more hours of high intensity interval training.

Obviously you can become conditioned to handle a greater volume of high intensity work, but we all have our own specific limit. And you’ll know it when you hit that limit.

When it comes to balancing high and low intensity work old school bodybuilders had it right all along.

Save your weekly reserve of high intensity effort for your weight training workouts, and fill in the rest of your exercise with low intensity movements.

This ensures you get maximum muscle growth stimulation while also getting general cardio exercise for overall health and recovery.

As with almost all things related to your body and fitness and health…more isn’t always better, and that also goes for high intensity exercise.

You have to find your own intensity reserve sweet spot and work within it.