Make the most of your workout!
In my last post, we talked about the paradox of being efficient in the gym, yet not letting your body become efficient at burning calories. That is of course if your goal is to burn maximal calories in the least amount of time. Why? ‘Cause none of us have hours to spend in the gym all day!! So how do you become efficient in the gym? Yet still achieve desired effects?
There are a couple of approaches to this, but all require you to PUSH yourself – hard. Generally this is why many people enjoy having a trainer or coach – to push them harder than they would themselves. But self coaching to maximal exertion can be done, if you know how to get there.
Lets start with the concept of RPE, or Rate of Perceived Exertion. This is quite a simple concept – a scale going from 1-10 (or 6-20 om the Borg method) where 1 signifies no effort at all and 10 signifies maximal exertion. Generally in a workout you should be between a 3-9 (we don’t like to get to 10 as that is going into un-safe cardio territory). The problem is many people keep the majority of their workout (say 80%) at a 5-6, where they can talk reasonably while performing exercise, maybe with short bursts into the 7-8 level (say for 20% of their workout time). At the end of the day, RPE is your own measure of energy exertion – but be honest about where you’re at and where you can really go.
In striving for an efficient workout (maximal effectiveness in the shortest amount of time), this ratio needs to be flipped. In much research both on HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training), which is generally related to cardio activity, one can burn up to 3x the fat as compared to endurance exercise, despite working out for less time. In HIIT- the workload during a workout should be mostly in the 7-9 effort and only in the 5-6 range for “recovery” of intervals. However, the total time in workout can be reduced to 30-45 minutes vs. a traditional 60+ minute session.
Though HIIT is often related to cardio activity, the same principle can be applied to weight training. In “Low Volume training,” studies have shown that the most effect comes from the first weight training set, providing the intensity is high enough. Thus, rather than doing 3-4 sets at a “5-6 intensity, do 1 “warm up set, then 1 set at 8-9 intensity, and reap the same benefits in half the time. What is an 8-9 intensity look like? Again remember the RPE is your personal scale – but I’ll tell you one thing I shouldn’t see you smiling. 🙂
Good luck time warriors!