I bike commute daily with a heart rate monitor and I can watch my calorie burn go down as it takes me less work to do the same thing. Pretty interesting (though a bit disappointing!) to watch. That has been helpful for me and while likely not completely accurate still a pretty good tell of how much easier a specific thing has become for each of us.
Well, I'm not very scientific about it, but I AM working very hard to learn my own body--to know when I'm full, to know when I'm ready for more, or a different, exercise, to know when I need a bit more meditation time in order to be able to handle whatever stress comes my way.
So, I just "feel" when it's time to up my game.
Funny enough, with weights, it does happen about the time I can make 12-15 reps easily, so I guess I'm on track with everyone else about that. As for cardio, as soon as something becomes too easy for me to breathe through, I change the game--10 minutes more (increasing the time) or raising the incline (changing intensity), or adding another day (increasing frequency).
And if all that gets too easy, then I find a new exercise to learn. For example, I started out only able to use a treadmill. Eventually, I added the elliptical. Then zumba. Then bike riding. Etc.
But through it all, I'm focusing most on learning to listen to myself. It is a true challenge for me, because I've lived from the neck up all my life!
In terms of cardio, unless you are training for an endurance event, once you get to being able to comfortably work out for 30-40 minutes, you are probably better off adding more intensity to your workout, rather than more time.
Everyone's goals are different, but with my goals, I increase weight or difficulty in an exercise when I can do 8 reps instead of my usual 6. However, this is not always how I do it. I tend to change things around constantly, no two workouts are the same, I sub in harder exercises for fewer reps or higher level of difficulty (for example if I am doing pullups I might sub in wide grip pullups which are harder). I constantly add new exercises and remove old ones. I also change how I workout -- in the past few months, I've done weeks with 3 full-body workouts, weeks with 4 workouts (2 upper, 2 lower body), weeks with 5 workouts (each muscle group once/week) and 5 workouts (each muscle group twice/week). I'm currently doing the last version but every few weeks I'll switch to 3 full-body workouts for one week.
I go by the philosophy that if I can lift it, I should. So sometimes I will increase the weight even if that means I can only do 3 or 4 reps, that's fine too. On some exercises like pullups or pistols, that's a decent set anyway.
As for cardio, I have no idea, I don't do cardio.
Fitness Minutes: (35,097)
2,167 11/19/12 5:04 A
For cardio, as you get more efficient in an exercise (e.g. running) because of doing it frequently over a long period of time, you don't burn as many calories as before. So in order to keep burning the same amount of calories, you would need to increase the intensity or duration. In general, when it gets way too comfortable and you don't feel any discomfort at all, it is time to push it. This does not mean one has to push it all the time of course. There is nothing like enjoying your workout from time to time, even if you will end up burning less calories.
For weight lifting, it is best to follow a program. Even a not so well designed program can lead to progress, but following no program virtually results in a loss of direction and there won't be any progress. In a program, you are supposed to do X number of sets and Y number of reps in each set. In the beginning of the program, often there is a very quick strength build up, so as soon as you can comfortably perform the required number of sets and reps without losing the correct form of carrying out those exercises, you should increase the weight. You should decrease the weight if you cannot lift with correct form. If you are failing somewhere in the last two sets, you have increased the weight by the right amount. However, note that after initial strength gains in the first few months, you will find that you can't increase the weight any more, simply because while eating at a caloric deficiency increasing the strength significantly any further would take a very long time. Some people even think it is impossible at a caloric deficiency.
Fitness Minutes: (112,042)
46,222 11/18/12 9:28 P
For lifting when you can complete more than 15 reps without achieving muscle fatigue, than you will want to move up in weights. With cardio you can elect to increase the time, frequency (the number of days per week) or intensity, but be careful to choose one and not all three.
I'm just wondering how you know it's time to add on to your workout routine? When you're lifting, how do you know it's time to add more weight? When you're doing cardio, how do you know to add more time, or to bump up to a higher level, or add more time?
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