BBJ Fitness Corner | Fitness training and intensity

Health Matters
  • Smaller Small Medium Big Bigger
  • Default Helvetica Segoe Georgia Times

WHEN discussing training results, one of the most talked about topics is an individual’s intensity.

Ali’i/ Blue Haus athletes with members of BBJ Athletics.  Contributed photo

Intensity, however, is one of the most misunderstood terms in fitness. It’s also one of the reasons why some of us are intimidated by workouts. Sweat, shortness of breath, feeling drained — these are what we expect from “intense” workouts.

In the movie “Edge of Tomorrow,” Maj. William Cage, the main character played by Tom Cruise, has to relive the same day over and over. Whenever he is “killed,” Cage finds himself thrown into a time loop. He goes through the same brutal fight and death again and again.

Gold’s Gym personal trainer Jerry Diaz said some individuals who work out are like William Cage. “Every day, they use the same equipment and do the same workout and expect change to happen,” Diaz said.

The overload principle states that to create physiological changes, an exercise stimulus must be applied at an intensity greater than the body is accustomed to receiving.

One of the most common challenges faced by a fitness enthusiast is reaching a plateau when exercise no longer seems to have an effect and the body stops making any physiological changes. This happens because the individual is performing the same exercises with the same weight for the same number of repetitions. This will not create an adequate overload that can lead to physiological changes.

Diaz said it is essential to either perform enough repetitions to cause temporary fatigue or use resistance and intensity difficult enough to stimulate change with appropriate repetitions.

A repetition is a single, individual action of the muscles responsible for creating movement at a joint or series of joints. Repetitions should be performed until appropriate momentary muscle fatigue occurs.

Recommended training volumes to achieve specific goals

Diaz said the intensity of an exercise will determine the number of repetitions that can be performed. For example, if a client has a goal to develop hypertrophy (the technical term for muscle definition) then he or she should use enough intensity per exercise to be able to perform six to 12 repetitions, fatiguing by the final rep. If a client can only execute 12 repetitions with a particular weight for an exercise, then that weight is the 12 repetitions max. As soon as the client can do more than 12 reps the weight should be increased so the rep range stays between six and 12. It should be noted that if the training goal is to improve muscle tone or definition, the exercises must be performed to appropriate and functional exhaustion.

Given the popularity of high-intensity fitness programs, it is important to know the recommended rep ranges for power-specific exercises. Training for muscular power places tremendous metabolic and mechanical demands on muscle tissue and can rapidly fatigue the nervous system responsible for maintaining proper joint mechanics. When using heavy weights for technical power-based lifts like the snatch or the clean-and-jerk, the rep range should focus on the maximum force output for one or two reps and, at the most, be limited to less than four or five. The snatch and clean-and-jerk are technically demanding lifts. If an individual tries to perform too many without sufficient rest or recovery, he or she is at significant risk of injury.

If a client is interested in improving muscle “tone,” there are two options for intensity and repetitions:

• Use a moderate-intensity load appropriate and functional exhaustion by six to 12 reps.

• A low-intensity load that involves reps to appropriate exhaustion.

If you are interested in seeing results, repetitions or increasing intensity are highly recommended. Fitness training doesn’t need to be overwhelming or exhausting, but it does need to be consistent and effective to create results, Diaz said.


Read more articles