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Steady State or Bursts of Intensity?

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No matter where you are on your personal fitness journey, determining the appropriate intensity of your workout is key to achieving results that align with your goals.

Cooper Fitness Center Professional Fitness Trainer Carla Botelho Sottovia, PhD, discusses the benefits of low-intensity and high-intensity interval training and how to know which is right for you according to your exercise needs and goals.

The intensity of a workout routine should be tailored to your individual needs according to where you are on your personal fitness journey. “If you just started working out or are picking it back up again after a while, low intensity is best,” Sottovia advises. “It helps set a foundation to build on which decreases risk of injury later down the road.”

Low-intensity workouts include, but are not limited to, a steady state treadmill walk, going for a jog or a brisk walk outdoors. This type of training should be performed a minimum of three times a week, for 30-45 minutes a day at 60-70 percent of your maximum heart rate.

Typically after building a base for four to six weeks, you can begin introducing high-intensity interval training, or HIIT, to your workout routine. “Bumping up the intensity with a HIIT workout is a great way to spice up any fitness program that increases your metabolism, burns more calories and takes your fitness to the next level,” Sottovia explains. “The point of HIIT is to increase volume doing fewer reps of a higher weight and having longer rest times in between sets.”

Whether you choose to do sprints, burpees, body weight exercises or a structured cross fit program, professionals only recommend doing HIIT two to three times per week, performed at 80-90 percent your maximum heart rate in order to give your body the proper recovery time it needs after the repetitious tearing of the muscles during the bursts of high intensity.

Cooper Fitness Center offers a variety of amenities ideal for low intensity workouts such as a one-mile outdoor track, heated swimming pools and top-of-the-line exercise equipment including treadmills and ellipticals. The Fitness Center also accommodates those who want to experiment with HIIT workouts through Small Group Training (SGT) hybrid classes that combine both low- and high-intensity intervals. Weekly boot camp classes also incorporate intervals using medicine balls and kettlebells.

There are certainly benefits to each intensity variation, it is simply a matter of selecting which one is best for you given your current stage of health and wellness and what will propel you forward to accomplish your fitness goals.

For more information about Cooper Fitness Center or to schedule a session with a Professional Fitness Trainer, visit or call 972.233.4832.