Q: What is exercise intensity?
A: In simplest terms, it's how hard an exercise is at a point in time. The technical definition is the level of momentary exertion during exercise.
Q: Why is it important?
A: Exercise of sufficient intensity is necessary to stimulate the body to make a change. When the body is worked beyond what it is equipped to handle, the body adapts as a form of self-protection.
The body will make a positive adaptation only if given enough time to recover from the exercise. If you give yourself too much intensity -- if you try to lift weights every day or run a marathon every day -- you will get hurt and experience regression.
Q: How hard should one exercise?
A: That depends on what you want to accomplish. The body will adapt to the nature of the demands placed on it. If one engages in lower intensity activities for extended periods of time, such as running, the body adapts by increasing endurance in that activity with little or no increase in muscle strength. If one engages in higher intensity exercise, such as weight lifting, the body adapts by getting stronger but with less improvement in the way of endurance.
Q: If the goal is to get stronger, how much high-intensity exercise is necessary?
A: Sessions are generally between 15 and 30 minutes. The higher the intensity, the less exercise you'll be able to withstand. For the elite athlete, the required level of intensity to see continuing improvement will be quite high and the sessions are often shorter. For those who do little physical activity, the intensity level will be much lower and more manageable, and the sessions might run a little longer. Whether you're 18 or 80, there will be a level you can manage that will produce positive results.
Q: How much time is needed to recovery from this high-intensity exercise?
A: One or two personal training sessions a week will be optimal for most people. If you start from the premise, which many people do, of how much exercise you can withstand, this leads to drudgery, insufficient recovery, lower intensity, less results and, eventually, quitting. If you start from the premise of how little intense exercise can you get away with and still achieve positive results, you will find you are willing to work out at a much higher level of intensity, have more time to recover, and have better results.
Q: Do people get better results with this method than other methods?
A: The conventional method of more repetitions, more sets and more time in the gym will produce satisfactory results; the high-intensity method will do the same. Both will involve pushing your body to its limits, but the high-intensity method will involve more concentrated effort over a shorter time.
Due to indvidual differences not everyody responds the same way to exerice - some might require more sets, some less. Both produce results, but with one you spend less time in the gym.
Regardless of the method it will come down to personal preference. Some people like the process and don't mind the hours in the gym each week. For those who don't like to exercise and want to get the most bang out of their time exercising, high intensity exercise is probably the way to go for them. The type of personal training sessions at Austin Personal Training and at New Orleans Ultimate Fitness are high intensity personal training sessions designed to produce the most impact in the least amount of time exercising.