Tips and Tricks for Measuring Exercise Intensity

woman exercising outside

Whether you’re starting a new gym program or refining your athletic performance, measuring exercise intensity can help you achieve your fitness goals much more quickly. Why does intensity matter? If your workouts aren’t intense enough, you may fail to see results. If you exercise too much, you may burn out quickly. So, how do you find the sweet spot? You learn the concepts of “relative intensity” and “absolute intensity.” Read on for the best tips and tricks from UltraSlide!

Relative Intensity

Relative intensity measures how much effort it takes for you to complete the activity. Think about the difference between a leisurely walk and an intense run. How fast does your heart beat? How quickly are you breathing? Different activities have different effects on the body. We can measure relative intensity with the simple talk test. During low-intensity activities, you have plenty of breath to talk as much as you’d like – and even sing! During moderate-intensity activities, you can only hold a conversation. Vigorous activities require more energy, so you can only manage a few words without pausing.

Absolute Intensity

Relative intensity might vary per person, depending on how much you exercise and your general fitness level. Absolute intensity is more objective. This measurement indicates the total amount of energy used per minute. For example, a brisk walk at a pace of 3 miles per hour is a moderate intensity exercise. Increase the speed to 6 miles per hour, and now the workout falls into the vigorous category.

Managing Your Workouts

How can you use this information to regulate your exercise routine?

  • Beginners can look up the absolute intensity of various workouts to find a good match for their lifestyle. Try moderate intensity activities like water aerobics, walking, cycling, or even gardening to ease into a new routine.
  • Experienced athletes can use relative intensity to manage their efforts at the gym. By utilizing the talk test, athletes can avoid over exerting themselves and risking injury.
  • If you’ve hit a plateau, consider trying the talk test during your next workout. You might need to bring up the intensity to add new life back into your routine.