After pushing yourself to your limit during a workout, do you ever wonder whether or not your sacrifices are having the desired effect? Working out is crucial to long-term weight loss and a healthy lifestyle, but exercise needs to be effective in order to deliver long-lasting benefits. The next time you’re working out, use the following criteria to measure the effectiveness of your exercise:
Your heart rate
By wearing a heart monitor, you can constantly monitor your heart rate during workouts, as well as your calorie consumption. To ensure that your workouts are burning sufficient energy, you should set yourself a target heart rate by ascertaining what your maximum rate should be. A person’s maximum heart rate depends on a range of issues, but there are three main ways to work it out.
- Record your highest heart rate. Work out at maximum exertion for 10 minutes, and record your heart rate with a monitor.
- Use an age-based calculation. As a starting point, use 220 if you’re a man or 226 if you’re a woman. Then, simply subtract your age from your starting total. For example, if you’re a 33-year-old woman, your calculation would be: ‘226-33=193’. This means your maximum heart rate is 193 beats per minute.
- A clinical stress test. This is a more accurate test that requires a range of specialist equipment and a treadmill. A cardiologist or exercise specialist will need to perform this test in a controlled environment.
Once you have your maximum heart rate, you will know how hard you are pushing yourself by using a heart rate monitor during all your exercise sessions.
Concentrate on quality exercise, and not endurance sessions
Rather than spend two hours at the gym jogging on the treadmill or enjoying a relaxing cycle-ride on a stationary bike, you should be working on maximising your intensity levels. As a simple rule of thumb, workout harder for shorter periods of time. Workouts that use fast-twitch fibres in your muscles burn more calories, and ensure your body burns more calories long after exercise has ceased (known as the after-burn effect). Examples of exercises that deliver the desired effects are plyometric drills and high-intensity interval training.
Your body will burn carbohydrates before it burns fat, so a good way to approach gym workouts is to split your sessions in two. Start with a strength session using weights and resistance machines. By the time you’re ready to start your cardio workout, your body will have switched to fat for the energy it needs.
Getting the exercise that will help you to achieve your long-term health goals is not always easy, which is why many people turn to a personal trainer. However, a far more cost-effective alternative is the Kiqplan fitness app, which monitors your performance and gives you workout advice and nutritional tips to help you achieve your health and fitness goals. This app recognises when you’re hitting your interim targets along the way, and delivers constructive feedback when you fall short, helping you get right back on track.
Your rate of perceived exertion
A rate of perceived exertion (RPE) is a very personal measurement of a person’s exertion levels during a workout. Think of the effort you’re putting into your exercise on a scale of 1-to-10. One on the scale might involve a leisurely stroll on a treadmill, and 10 might be you running as hard and as fast as your body will allow.
As a simple rule of thumb, try to hit at least an eight on the scale every time you exercise. Interval training is particularly effective at burning fat, as it ensures your body is put through maximum exertion at least three or four times during a workout.
Fatigue in your muscles
You will know that your muscles have received a strenuous workout when they struggle to contract. If you’re lifting weights, you will know when this point has been reached, as you won’t be able to complete your reps. This stage in a workout is the point of maximum effort. As soon as this point has been reached, you should stop what you’re doing immediately. If you feel nauseous or dizzy, take a seat and have a drink of water. And of course, remember to do your warm-up and cool-down routines every time you exercise.
You can be fairly sure your workouts are having the desired effect if you are experiencing intense hunger pangs shortly after exercising. You may crave carb-rich foods after a period of intense exertion, so always plan to eat your ‘good’ carbs within 30 minutes of a session. However, it is important not to gorge on the wrong foods: stick within your daily calorie target, which is determined by your recommended daily allowance, minus the calories that are taken away to ensure weight loss. A 12-week fitness app will help you to manage your calorie intake with your individual weight loss goals in mind.
Exercise will only deliver the desired results if it is performed correctly and at a sufficient level of intensity. Ensuring your workouts are stretching your body to its limits is the best way to ensure that you achieve your health and fitness goals.