How Hard Should You Be Working?

Have you ever worked out and wondered, “Am I doing this right?” Have you worried whether you’re breathing too much, or not enough? Is your heart rate in the right range? It can get overwhelming to think about, but thankfully Julia Collins, owner of Ypsi Studio, is here with some workout guidelines. Take it away, Julia!

When you work out, you want to think about your exertion being in zones from one to four — one being up and awake, and four being all out, which you can only do for about 20 second stretches at a time. You’ll want to adjust your zones to ensure that you have ample time for recovery, and that you’re not demanding too much from your workout. For example, if you’re going for a long run, you obviously can’t be in zone four the whole time. You’ll probably want to be in a 2-3 in that case.

Here’s more about the zones and workouts therein:

  • One: You’re up and awake. You’re not breathing hard. You are moving, but it’s not difficult on any level.
  • Two: Comfortable work. You could keep this up for a long while, but you’re still exerting yourself to a degree.
  • Three: Uncomfortable work. This is challenging. Three is a really important zone — one of those places where it’s hard to stay there, but the more you can challenge yourself to endure zone 3, the more benefit your body will get.
  • Four: Anaerobic work. Here, you will be quite breathless, and sweating profusely. You’re only meant to endure zone 4 for about 15-20 seconds.

The trick about zones is that it’s all about perceived exertion. In other words, someone else’s two is your four. So the best thing to do is to check in with your body, and be mindful of how hard you’re working. In a typical 50-minute class, you should be in your 2-3 most of the time. So if you’re feeling like you’re breathless in your two, you’re going to pass out in a 50-minute class. In that case, slow down, and take it to a level that you can maintain through the whole workout. Conversely, if you’ve completed the whole 50-minute class and barely broken a sweat, you may need to adjust your zones so they’re more challenging.