What is the difference between a 5 minute, a 20 minute and an hour-long workout? The intensity levels. Would you run mile at the same speed as a marathon distance? If you’re running the same pace for a 5-minute run, a 20-minute run and an hour long run, you’re not getting the point of the workout. Or you’re simply not running with a purpose. These different time domains require you to work at different intensity levels because you wouldn’t be able to sustain the paces otherwise.
Throughout this blog I will be using running as a general example because it’s easy to understand and grasp but it can be applied to any form of working out.
The difference in intensity level is based on the goal and time domain of the workout. If you’re running 800-meter repeats versus a single 800 meter sprint, your pace you should be slower for the repeats since there’s more work intervals following. If you were to run the same pace as an all-out 800 meter run effort, you are not going to sustain the paces over the number of intervals you’re doing.
An even better example, if you were to run a mile on Monday, 10K on Wednesday and a half marathon on Friday, Would you do those at the same speeds? I certainly hope not. Why would you run your mile at a speed that you can maintain for 10 times that distance? (unless it’s a warm-up run)
Just because you run slower for longer distances doesn’t make it easier or harder, the intensity is just higher or lower because of the time domain of the effort. Your short and hard runs should be done at an intensity level of 8 or 9 out of 10. Your longer runs should be at a. 5-6 out of 10. Looking at these numbers, which one do you think is more intense?
I want you to take one thing away from this blog: Just because the effort is longer doesn’t mean it’s more intense. In most cases, the longer the workout, the lower the intensity is (check the example down below).
If your 800 meter all out sprint doesn’t feel that tough but your half marathon pace does, you’re running too slow during your 800 meter runs and probably too fast for the half marathon pace.
Inside the gym
If you think that doing sets of 8 reps of back squats is harder or more intense than doing sets of 1 you’re missing the point. Intensity is not defined by doing more work with less weight. Intensity IS defined by the amount of work you’re doing in relation to the weight you’re lifting. It certainly will feel like the sets of 8 are more intense than the sets of 1 because you’re doing more work, however, give the next example some thought. If you’re lifting at a 9/10 effort on your sets of one but lift at a 7/10 effort on your sets of 8, how can you tell yourself that the sets of 8 are more intense?
Remember, intensity is not defined by how much work you’re doing. It is defined by how heavy or how hard your effort feels in relation to the amount of work you’re doing.
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