To reach your goals, it’s critical you not only maximize their time in the gym but also put forth maximum effort during the vital calorie/fat-burning portion of your workout. Usually, that’s on a cardio machine.
There are essentially two levels of exertion–moderate and vigorous.
How do you determine your own intensity? A couple of ways, as outlined by the Mayo Clinic. The simplest is by how you feel. If you can talk with someone or read comfortably, you’re putting forth moderate effort, at best. If you struggle to talk or can’t read because you’re focused on breathing, well, that’s vigorous.
More scientifically, you may measure the level of your effort by the percentage of your Maximum Heart Rate (MHR). Generally, calculate your max by calculating 220 minus your age.
Now, here are some ways to measure your level of intensity:
Low intensity would be 40%-55% of your MHR
Moderate would be 56%-70% of your MHR
Vigorous would be anything higher than 70% of your MHR
If you don’t have a heart-rate monitor or don’t trust the one on your machine (They vary wildly, by the way), use your pulse.
Generally, a light level of training would be 66-91 beats per minute (that’s like sleeping!). Moderate would be 92-115. And anything higher is vigorous.
Why does it matter? At the most basic level, the more intense your workout the more calories and fat your burn – in less time. Moreover, studies have found that vigorous training builds aerobic capacity (overall endurance) and, even better, helps prevent heart damage. (Hey, remember it’s a muscle, too! Both moderate and vigorous levels of training will help stem cardio vascular disease, according to many studies. For most adults (especially African-Americans and Hispanics) that benefit alone is worth the extra intensity and sweat!
So if you want to get the most out your time at the gym, step it up (your heart rate, that is)