Train with Intensity!

People ask me: “Am I overtraining?” “Am I undertraining?”

Here’s how to tell: First, be sure to use a heart rate monitor while you’re training. This simple, inexpensive device can tell you whether or not you’re in your optimal training zone.

Second, measure your exercise intensity by “rate of exertion.” I use a simple 1-to-10 scale. If you’re running for your life down an alley while being chased by a pack of wild dogs, that’s a 10. If you’re lying on the couch, drinking a beer, and watching biggest loser, that’s a 1. Obviously, you don’t want to be at a 1 or at a 10. You want to be somewhere between a 6 and an 8. An 8 represents a level of effort that feels like you’re working as hard as you can and still hanging in there without stopping or pausing.

On some days, you may only be able to reach a 4. Maybe the previous night you didn’t get enough sleep, or you didn’t have enough time to properly fuel yourself. Even the temperature in the room or outdoors can affect your intensity. I don’t box as well when the temperature drops to 40 degrees outside my whole body feels mummified in the ring. But at least I’m at the gym, despite the conditions, and doing my best.

Intensity is finding your fire and working out as hard as you can, based on where you are today, without sacrificing correct exercise form. Intensity is a moving target, too. It changes from day to day, and there are so many variables outside your control. It’s your job to show up, and that’s within your control.