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Exercise and Intensity. Am I working hard enough?

January 05, 2024 3 min read

“Do or Do Not, There is No Try” -Yoda

Why Should You Care?

When we decide we’re going to start working out and begin identifying goals, it’s a good idea to make sure you’re not working out too easy or too hard. Why? You probably don’t want to waste your time nor do you want to risk injury. In our fast paced society getting the most bang for your buck with your workouts it will be important to make sure your not working against yourself.

4 Simple Ways to Check Your Intensity


The first and EASIEST way is the talk test. If you can talk and carry on a conversation while your working out, this is telling you that you are at an intensity that you’ll be able to carry throughout your workout. If your doing HIIT or Interval type of strength or run training, you may not be able to carry on a conversation during those harder intensities which is telling you that you are indeed working harder!


Learning to listen to your body can take time!

Moderate Intensity feels somewhat hard but you are able to continue through the workout. Here are a few clues to see if your exercise intensity is at a moderate level:

  • You can carry on a conversation but you can’t sing
  • You begin to sweat after 10 minutes of activity
  • Your breathing quickens but your not out of breath

Vigorous Intensity feels challenging. Here are a few clues to see if your exercise intensity is at a vigorous level.

  • You can’t say more than a few words at a time
  • You develop a sweat just a few minutes of activity
  • Your breathing is rapid and deep

Heart Rate

Another way to gauge your intensity is to know how hard your heart is working during a workout. To learn about your heart rate you must first be able to identify your Resting Heart Rate and your Maximum Heart Rate. Your heart rate is made up of your resting, maximum and target heart rate. Learn more about heart rate training basic HERE.

RPE SCALE (Rate of Perceived Exertion)

Perceived Exertion is an easy scale of 1-10. 1 being the easiest amount of effort (laying on the couch) to 10 being the most intense (running from a bear). I use this scale during my LIVE Virtual Workouts to help my clients gauge how hard they should be working whether we are on the floor doing strength exercise or on the treadmill completing an interval workout. It basically involves you asking yourself, “On a scale of 1-10, how hard am I working right now”. This helps bring awareness to your intensity and make adjustments if needed.

The RPE Scale:

Level 1: no effort at all (watching TV)

Level 2: barely noticeable effort (tying shoes)

Level 3: very light effort (washing dishes, folding clothes)

Level 4: light effort (leisurely walking)

Level 5: moderate effort (brisk walking)

Level 6: moderately difficult effort (jogging, easy hike)

Level 7: difficult effort (running, lifting moderately heavy weights)

Level 8: very difficult effort (lifting very heavy weights, difficult hike)

Level 9: extremely difficult effort (mountain biking on an incline)

Level 10: maximum effort (sprint at the end of a race)


Remember however effort isn’t everything. This means that you shouldn’t think you have to workout at a 7 every single day to get something out of your workout. Different workout require different intensities and some days your body needs a lower intensity walk or lighter day of weights. I also recommend that you allow at least 1 full day of rest! This doesn’t mean sitting on the couch all day eating ice cream. This means, take a day off of strength, running etc. and allow time for a walk, some extra stretching etc.


Knowing what days to do what activity and what intensity is the TRICK to hitting your goals. If you struggle in finding a balance of exercise type, duration and intensity, Join us! I’ve got 2 programs tailored just for you that takes out all the guesswork so all you have to do is show up and do the work.

  1. Virtual Workout Club: Stronger Together is a workout you can access via ZOOM 3 days a week and includes strength from home AND cardio interval training from your favorite piece of equipment! Consistent, cost effective, and time saving!
  2. Run With Purpose Project: Why run? What’s your purpose? Identify these things and learn so much more about everything run related to your own training plan, nutrition for runners, runners strength (live strength membership included) run recovery, and access to the runners toolbox with all the tools of the trade you’ll need to become the runners you’ve always wanted to be!

I hope this helps! Up next, how do you know if you’re exercising ENOUGH??

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