This week has been quite fun at the gym. I had to sub a few spin classes so it’s fun to see new faces, plus I am “mentoring” a gym member while she gets her spinning certifications. I’ve let her teach part of my classes and then we go over things at the end. It’s been a good refresher for me as well jut going over the basics of teaching group fitness and spinning.
We got to talking about MEASURING fitness and how to gage the effort level for each class. Well, one of the BASIC things we often overlook is the assumption that you have to measure fitness by numbers. Now don’t get me wrong, I love my heart rate monitor and I think everyone would benefit from training with one, but not everyone can afford one and not everyone remembers to bring theirs to the gym, etc.
So how do you measure your FITNESS during a class or workout without the numbers?
I like to try to connect the mind with the body.
- Easy- like walking. Simple conversation can be held (perfect for a warm up)
- Moderate– jogging at an easy pace. Something you can hold a while. You can chat with someone but not the whole time. You still need to breathe regularly. Steady State.
- Right Below threshold- Imagine yourself on a track. You’re rounding the corner right before a straight away. That’s right below threshold. You’re almost breathless striding towards that straight away sprint finish.
- Threshold– This is getting uncomfortable. Your breathless. If you were on that track, you’ve rounded the corner and are on the home stretch.
- HARD- past threshold- Uncomfortable (lactic acid threshold here). Breathless for sure. Lungs are working hard, muscles are working hard. You’re on that last leg of the track and your sprinting to the finish line, trying to pass that last person. (make sure to properly recover after you get to this stage. Let the heart beat slow down and catch your breath)
Can you visualize your body going through those motions? Try it sometime. Your next workout. Are there sprints, tabatas, etc? What effort are you hitting? Right it down after. Then go back the next days and where your heart rate monitor. Do you feel a difference in workouts? You’ll be surprised at both.
If you’re interested in more info on threshold tests, numbers and all, here’s a great article to study up on.
Numbers help us with smart training. We need them! But we also need to ENGAGE our minds to connect with our body. Easier said than done, but WORTH the focus. Try it out sometime and let me know whatcha think!
How to gage your own effort without measuring the numbers? Are you fan of visualization?
totally forgot to announce the winner of the Pillsbury giveaway! Congrats to Heather! I am so excited for you and now you can feed your sis some GF pizza!
A short and accurate list.
Yeah, I think I need this one. I am a working mom and I can only do workouts everytime I get the chance or everytime I remember I should have to. I need to connect my mind to my body to remind me I need to live a healthy lifestyle. Interesting blog, thank you for sharing.
I love the feeling of recovering after “past-threshold”, just feels so satisfactory!
Great info/pointers here!
SP (Flexx Labs)
Hi Lindsay, thank you for this fitness friday post. I love it when you emphasize that the mind should connect with the body when working out. Ill be looking forward to more of your posts and share it with a friend. This friend I am talking about has just started working out. I am helping her to lose weight and build muscles.
She Rocks Fitness
I love that photo of you flat out on the ground! I actually did that once last week. I am all about mind/body. I use my watch for the timing, but the training is all about listening to my mind/body. Great post chic! XO
you need a picture of that! We could be flat out on the floor twins!
yes love visualization but sadly we do not do it as much as we should!
ya but you guys always kick butt, so that’s a plus!
Taylor @ Liftingrevolution
I am a girl of comparison! I love comparing the same workouts to see if I can beat them. In fact my hubby and i make beats on them to see what happens. This past week we both ended with 15 extra 1/2 burpees. I love my GPS with running too though. i have a heart rate monitor but haven’t worn it for years. I should! my muse might help
you should try it with running to see how efficient you are in long runs, etc. And 15 extra 1/2 burpees? You guys are beasts!
Jody - Fit at 55
BTW I still have that issue with your site not letting me get comment luv, 🙁 That weird message I told you about way back when – am I the only one?
Anyway, due to be in better shape for my age, I use the 1-10 perceived exertion scale & have for years – making sure to push myself out of the comfort zone but not so far I am going to croak! 😉
A great post – lots of people don’t know this stuff!!
The person you are mentoring is lucky!!! 🙂
i like the 1-10 scale too! Stick with what works, yes?!
Paige @ Your Trainer Paige
When I first started working out, I wore a heart rate monitor, because it was hard for me to tell how hard I was working just based on how I felt. Now the only time I bring mine out of storage is for clients!
Also – what spin cert do you have? I’m getting certified in October, and thinking of going with Schwinn.
I got my certification at the Cooper’s institute back in 2003. wow, 10 yrs ago. haha! Schwinn is great though!
Molly @ There Goes Molly Rose
I like your mind-body measure! I work in the physical therapy field, and we use RPE (ratings of perceived exertion) to help objectify patients’ level of exhaustion. It’s numbers and still pretty subjective, but a good way to keep progress of each individual. Thanks for including that article, I’m a nerd and love that stuff! 😉
I’ve used the RPE as well. I bet it’s great for PT! I think for teaching classes, visualization can help motivate, ya know? And yay, we are both nerds. Love the article too! hehe
I’ve only had a HRM since last Christmas, but I love it. I tend to not push myself hard enough, to be scared of being uncomfortable. Seeing my heart rate helps me see if I’m really going as hard as I think I am, or if I’m going TOO hard. (Hmmm, I wish they made stress rate monitors. I could definitely use that!) I don’t usually use my HRM on long runs, though, except for distance. I don’t like to train for speed, just for endurance, so I’d rather zone out on my long runs!
same here. And ya, i need a stress rate monitor. although it might ding too much. LOL!
Heather @ Better With Veggies
I have been training a lot by feel recently, since I seem to always forget my GPS/Heart Rate monitor. I like my athletes to use data though, so I can see what’s actually happening. 🙂
haha, yes. For coaches, numbers are key! That is a must!
Beth @ Miles and Trials
It’s so important to listen to your body in addition to the numbers (if you like that sort of thing). The other day I had a run where I had to hit a certain heart rate for 5 miles and I started to notice that if I went even a couple of beats over the target number my effort felt a lot harder. It was fun to be able to feel the difference of effort level at the different heart rate zones.
I’ve never used a HRM – I usually just push myself to the point where I can’t talk. Teaching boot camp this summer was good for me because it forced me to adjust some and work at a level where I could still communicate.
I never had a heart rate monitor, so I normally go by how much I am sweating and how out of breathe I feel while I am working out. I love this workout and the fact you incorporated just 1 minute of everything. Quick circuits are the best workouts!
the sweat measure.. i love it!
Jolynn @ Lift Pray Love
I definitely love my HR monitor. I’m to the point where I’ve used it so long I could probably tell you my exact heart rate (or darn close) without wearing it.
and i bet you are VERY in tune with your body now. I love that!
that banana froyo.. whoa.
That’s so cool that you get to mentor someone while they try and get certified to teach, that tells me that you are an awesome instructor!
I am a HUGE fan of visualization, I use it a ton on my runs, especially the long ones.
oh yes, long run visualization is KEY! good stuff Laura!
I love this! I am totally not a numbers person so I love all the concrete tips to check in with. I’m trying to get better at visualization because I’ve been hearing so many great things about it!
practice makes perfect right? I think doing away with numbers helps us tune into our body more at times, yes?
I don’t use a HRM, I could..but I don’t. I just like feeling my workouts for what they are and not having to read what I’m feeling. Make sense?
Laura @ Sprint 2 the Table
Crazy Cotter – LOL! You are crazy in the best way!
Lifting it’s a little easier to measure effort – I try to do a litte more each week. Visualization is something I’ve done more of lately. I think about the move I’m doing, and really focus on the muscle group targeted. It’s helped a lot!
Madeline @ Food Fitness and Family
LOVE this! I seriously love training with my Polar but now being pregnant (again) I find myself using my body cues and my HR monitor equally when working out. Definitely more in tune with things 🙂
Amy @ The Little Honey Bee
As much as I would love a fancy number gadget, it is just not in my budget right now! I definitely measure through visualization and often ask myself: “can I go harder?” Have a great weekend!
that’s a great motivating question. Plus i think it’s great to ask “should we go harder?” ya know?
Carly @ Snack Therapy
Honestly, I usually don’t worry about measuring my exercise effort. I just workout, and it is what it is. Sometimes, I feel like going hard (measured by the sweat dripping down my everything and my inability to breathe) and sometimes I feel like going easy (measured by my ability to chat on the phone).
But, I do also own a HR monitor for those days when I feel like paying attention.
Great info/pointers here! Those are great to keep in mind as far as effort level goes esp with spin class and the different drills that we do.
Given the choice, I’ll go sans measurement any day of the week. It really is my preferred method to go. Once I’m done with such intense HR training, I’ll definitely be doing more runs this way.
Holly @ EatGreatBEGreat
Great post! I definitely gage it by visualization and how I’m feeling. If I’m sweating a lot, how hard I’m breathing and if I can carry on a conversation.
Heather (Where's the Beach)
Great post my friend. And I just pinned that workout too. I try to stay away from the numbers on my fancy dancy watch. It gets me in trouble. I used to HR train when I only had my polar and I got really really good about going by feel but at the same time I had that mental game of “my HR is too low” type of thing. But I still know that “feel” and I think that’s kind of cool. I have a tendency to over do things (shocker), so sometimes I need my watch to help me realize this and keep me in check. I’m not so great with the visualization other than the visual numbers haha. And I am SOOOO excited to win that (so is my sis)
visualization is so impoprtant! 🙂 (and yes I realize as a sport/exercise psych girl I’m totally biased). It’s funny becuase my swim workouts are dictated by numbers/pace/times etc, on the bike I use speed but not heart rate or power or anything, and the run I use a plain old watch unless I’m on the TM. Definitely not a numbers girl.
I do a lot of Tabatas, Sprints or Interval Cardio – but I never wear a heartrate monitor. It might be good for me to check once in a while, but normally I try to feel where I am at with my heartrate – if I need more recovery, more speed etc.
Great explanation, thank you!! Happy Weekend Beauty!
Abby @ Change of Pace
You’d be an awesome mentor- how fun!
Thanks for the great explanation! I rarely go into threshold or hard when I’m training but I have plans to get more out of my training and switch it up once I’ve finished this ironman and recovered!
Really great explanation Lindsay! I coach mostly strength-training clients and don’t get into the lactate threshold aspect as often. This is a good reminder about measuring this equally important element of fitness!
Katie @ Talk Less, Say More
I’ve never used a heart rate monitor but it’s a great suggestion to play around with the threshold/intensity. It’s probably not something I do enough… 😉
Alysia @ Slim Sanity
I have a low threshold when it comes to running I think. When I was doing half training, I made sure to pay attention to this on my long runs. I’d reach my ‘threshold’ quickly and had to bring my speed down or just walk so I could catch up and keep going. I also wore my Polar, but a slow jog would get me to the top end of my zone so I didn’t pay much attention to it. Perhaps I need to reset the limits on it?
I stopped wearing my HR monitor a long time ago. My breathing, my perceived exertion level, seems to do it for me.
Tiff @ Love Sweat and Beers
I love spin! I hit every layer of intensity in class, and it always feels great. I’m keeping it lower intensity now, so it’s even more important for me to pay attention to both HR and how I feel.
Yup especially on long runs or solo runs 😉 I can’t wait to shadow someone for spinning!
Laura @ Mommy Run Fast
I love this way of looking at threshold- I have to use similar terms in my spin classes, too… finally found one in our new town to sub yesterday!
In terms of running, I’ve been hitting the track but skipped a few of my threshold (tempo) runs the last week or two- thanks for the reminder to get it in this week!
Linz @ Itz Linz
when i was running i wore a heartrate monitor sometimes but never did anything with the numbers haha love your minute by minute workout!!
Sarah @ Fit Betty
I like to have my heart rate monitor, but I also like to feel my effort level too. When I run I can tell when I have reached my lactic acid threshold, and my HRM always confirms it for me.
That’s very cool thatyou are mentoring someone! It make a BIG difference to have someone help when you first start out in fitness 🙂