A trend has emerged in fitness centres in recent years. It involves shortening training sessions while increasing their intensity. So what kinds of workouts should we be doing—long and low-intensity, short and high-intensity, or a combination of both?
It’s important to consider the following factors, which will influence the duration and intensity of your workouts:
Given these variables, you’ve probably already guessed that there is no “magic” number when it comes to workout duration. This means that there is no optimal time or intensity that applies to everyone. Intensity, however, should be your top priority. Increasing intensity will create a homeostatic imbalance that will bring positive results from the workout. In other words, to improve your fitness level, you need to generate enough effort and force your body to become stronger, more powerful and more resilient so it can stand up to future workouts. Be careful though—intensity doesn’t mean exhaustion. The higher the intensity of the workout, the shorter the session should be. Recovery between series and exercises must also be adjusted accordingly. Lastly, recovery between sessions is important and should be lengthy.
People in poor physical condition should focus on workout frequency rather than intensity and duration. In practice, this means that a beginner will see better results by working out more frequently at a lower intensity and for shorter durations. This strategy will boost motivation during training. It’s important, however, to vary training to stimulate the body.
In fact, varying the intensity and duration is the best way to plan your workouts. This is what we call periodization.
Have a great workout!
Jean-Denis Thomson, B.Sc.