Intensity or Insanity
QUESTION: Do you think that the intensity of your workout is “THE THING” that gives you results or is it more about being consistent with your workouts?
I like doing these kind of workouts, but I’m having a hard time pushing myself that hard every day and I’m finding now that I’m starting to dread doing them.
I have been doing these workouts only 2-3 times per week instead of the 5 times per week .This workout brings me to my knees. I’ve started questioning myself and wondering if it’s even worth the torture.
ANSWER: Intensity is one of the most important training variables, and at times, you’ll definitely want to train with high intensity to get maximum results in the shortest time.
But the real answer to your question may depend on your goals, the shape you’re in now and even your personality type.
Some things to consider:
- Are you a beginner or already in shape and looking for the next challenge?
- Do you like home body weight workouts or are you a gym and weights/ cardio machine type?
- Are you the “hard-core” fitness nut type of person or do you simply want to get leaner and healthier, nothing crazy?
- When you say you want “results”, are you talking about fat loss, cardiovascular fitness improvement, muscle growth or all of the above?
- With that in mind, let’s answer the HOW MUCH INTENSITY question in the context of fat loss first.
I’m sure you can appreciate that people can lose weight while lying in a hospital bed. If someone is sick and can’t keep food down, then there can be a significant calorie deficit even without exercise. That rules out high intensity training as an absolute prerequisite for weight loss. In fact, this simple example proves that exercise is not a requirement to lose weight at all.
Obviously, starving yourself is NOT the approach I recommend! My Realfit program is based on the opposite: train more and feed the muscle and fuel the training. I’m simply making the point that it’s NOT intensity PER SE or even ANY type of particular workout that creates the fat loss, IT’S THE CALORIE DEFICIT!
Intense daily boot-campish workouts may appeal to the “I want to be tough as a navy seal” personality types and advanced workouts serve their purpose – to provide an appropriate challenge for advanced fitness enthusiasts. If you enjoy it, and if you can recover from it, and if you can stay injury-free, and if you can stick with it consistently, then go for it. But be sure to balance your intensity with recovery:
- Balance your weight training and cardio (volume, frequency and intensity) so you can recover from both and reap the benefits of both forms of training.
- Vary your workouts with some form of periodisation or intensity-cycling system.
- Last but not least, I believe that weight training should sit atop the exercise hierarchy as one part of a total fitness program.
Fat loss programs that are based entirely on calisthenic, aerobic or body weight exercise are popular today, but I recommend a 4-element model:
1. Nutrition 2. Weight training 3. Cardio training (low/moderate and intense) 4. Mental training (mindset and motivation)
For total fitness and physique development – muscle, strength, conditioning and leanness, combine weights with cardio.
Judiciously balance hare-like intensity with recovery.
AND do it all with tortoise-like consistency.
Then, watch what happens to your body. You will like it!