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How's my cardio intensity?

Oct 1, 2010

There are three easy ways to determine if you are working hard enough while doing your cardio:

  1. The Talk Test: You shouldn't be able to carry on a full conversation without taking a breath during most of your cardio. However, if you're working so hard that you're gasping for air, your intensity is a bit too high. A happy medium would be the ability to talk during your session with intermittent breaks in conversation to take in air.
  2. Your Rate of Perceived Exertion (RPE) Scale: On a scale of 1 to 10, the lowest represents how you feel at rest. Moving towards 10 the scale increases from very light, light, somewhat hard. A 7 on the scale begins the perception of heavy. A perception of 10 would indicate that you are at maximal exertion. This would be okay for very short periods, however, the majority of your workout should be between a 6 and 8 on the scale.
  3. A percentage of your maximum heart rate (HR): To calculate your HR, the simplest way is to subtract your age from 220. Then you'll multiply by the percentage of your max that you're wanting to work. Wearing a heart rate monitor will help keep you aware of exactly where you are. If you're just starting out, maintain a level of 50 to 60% of your maximum level. Intermediate exercisers can shoot for 60 to 70%. Advanced, condition folks can aim for 75 to 85%, working at greater than 85% during intervals.

If you're concerned as to whether or not you're getting the most for your time spent doing cardio, then we may be of some help. Chances are you're not working to your highest capacity! Having a trainer will not only help you work your hardest, but it will help make sure you are working at a safe and appropriate level.

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