Do You Know Your Workout Intensity? February 23, 2016
Do You Know Your Workout Intensity? February 23, 2016

Is your workout usually pretty intense? What’s the intensity of your typical gym session?

No, we’re not repeating ourselves. The first question is subjective: We’re asking if your gym regimen hits your goals and leaves you feeling accomplished. However, the second question calls for a quantitative answer.

Measuring Intensity
The intensity measurement of a workout comprises these parts:

Dialing Intensity Up or Down: What’s Your Goal?
So how many reps and sets will you perform? What amount of weight will you use? How long will you rest between sets? Your fitness goals determine the answers.

Here are some general guidelines on how to choose the right intensity for three basic fitness goals. Notice how changing even one of these components can impact the result:

Feel the Power
Reps: 5-8; Sets: 3; Percentage of one-rep max (1RM): 65-75%; Rest period: 45-60 seconds

Gain Strength
Reps: 8-12; Sets: 3; Percentage of 1RM: 65-75%; Rest period: 60-90 seconds

Build Endurance
Reps: 12-15 or more; Sets: 1-3; Percentage of 1RM: 65%; Rest period: 45-60 seconds

Here’s a great example of varying intensity in practice: Matt and Lisa are two lifters doing their thing side by side at the gym. Each is benching 150 pounds. However, if Lisa has recorded a 400-pound one one-rep max (1RM) and Matt has charted a 200-pound 1RM, guess who is having a higher-intensity workout? That’s right, it’s Matt. But he can’t slack off. As his muscles learn to master that 150 pounds, the intensity of the weight–and the effectiveness of his workout–will decrease over time.

As we move into 2016, think about how you might pump up your workout intensity to achieve better results. “Less effort, greater reward” could become your mantra for the new year.


PumpOne’s complete workout guidance, tracking and scheduling tools include more than 1,000 workouts, or you can create your own sessions from 7,000 exercise images and videos. Download it from the App Store or Google Play, or sign up at PumpOne.com.

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