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Exercising Hard – Or Hardly Exercising?

We made it to another Workout Wednesday!

As I’ve been working to re-charge my own fitness focus this week, I thought I’d take advantage of today to remind everyone of a simple way to gauge how much work you’re putting into that workout. It doesn’t involve calculations of target heart-rate zones. In fact, there’s no math involved at all. Instead, what helps many fitness lovers gauge the intensity of their workouts is known as the “talk test.”

Here’s what the scores look like:

  • Low intensity: You can carry on a conversation comfortably with a workout buddy or sing along with your playlist – being off-key doesn’t matter!
  • Moderate intensity: You can still talk, but you’re slightly out of breath and can’t carry on a conversation at a normal pace.
  • High intensity: You can only say a few words at a time because you’re breathing rapidly.

As I’m sure you’ve already figured out, if you’re looking to lose weight, working out at a moderate to high intensity will provide the biggest benefits for your waistline and your overall health. In our time-crunched lives, however, there aren’t always enough days in the week to get in all the hour-long high-intensity sessions we want. That’s why I’ve become a big fan of Tabata training. Click here for a reminder on why the high-intensity training protocol became a fast favorite in my fitness routine.

I wrap this short and sweet post with the reason why it’s important to assess just how hard we’re pushing ourselves when we workout. You know how easy it can be to underestimate just how many calories you’re eating? It’s just as easy to overestimate how hard you’re exercising! If you don’t have a heart rate monitor, the talk test can be a good way to gauge if you’re really doing all you can to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

Strong Finish Friday!

AMRAP Example


No need to adjust your eyes. I had no idea what that “word” meant when I first saw it written in erasable marker on a mirror in the gym before one of my first Ultimate Fitness Experience classes. Since then, not unlike the burpee, it’s a word I’ve come to love and hate. It’s an abbreviation that stands for “As Many Reps / Rounds As Possible.”

The directive pushes you to do as much work as possible in a given amount of time. Here are just a few some examples of the high-intensity AMRAPs I’ve pushed through during the past month courtesy of our class instructor Roberto Murichi:

7-minute AMRAP: 21 sit-ups, 7 box jumps
For this workout, you push out as many rounds of 21 sit-ups followed by seven box jumps. You rest when you need to, but of course the idea is to sweat through multiple rounds.

20-minute AMRAP: 15 rear lunges, 15 push presses, 10 kettle bell high pulls
Same concept as above but different exercises for longer amount of time. I managed to get through six rounds. Adding it all up in terms of reps, that meant 90 rear lunges; 90 push presses and 60 high pulls.

If you’re not a complete fitness newbie, AMRAPs can be a great way to make the most of a limited amount of time. You can also progress or regress as needed. The first day of UFX, Roberto had us perform a four-minute Tabata using a combination of four rounds of squats followed by four rounds of sit-ups. That meant pushing out as many squats or sit-ups as we could (or AMRAPs) in a 20-second work period followed by 10 seconds of rest and repeating the cycle eight times. Maybe the first time you try this Tabata, you can barely perform seven squats in 20 seconds. Then a few weeks later, you’re banging out 15-18. Listen to your body about moving at a good pace for you.

Again, these workouts aren’t for the faint of heart or anyone who’s brand spankin’ new to exercise. However, if you’re looking to kick things up a notch, using the AMRAP practice in your workout can be a challenging way to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

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