By Gabe Sanders Ph.D., NSCA-CSCS
High-intensity interval training (HIIT) is an effective form of exercise that can yield very positive health and body composition results. This type of training is characterized by short bursts of high-intensity exercise, followed by low-intensity exercise and then you repeat the cycle, and this activity will last for several minutes.
While HIIT workouts are one way to engage in vigorous exercise, there is another way to monitor your overall fitness and exercise intensity on a daily and weekly basis. To monitor your daily and weekly training intensity, you can count your high-intensity points, otherwise known as the number of minutes you engage in vigorous exercise.
How many minutes?
To monitor your points or the number of minutes you engage in high-intensity exercise, first, you need some type of fitness tracker that measures your heart rate and time spent at a heart rate level. There are numerous wrist-worn devices available on the market that will measure your heart rate. Once you have the device, it is important to input your age and fitness level into the device.
While each device is different, they all have high-intensity zones that are based on your age and fitness level. For starters, a good high-intensity zone is one that is greater than 70-75% of your maximum heart rate (again some zones are predetermined by the watch manufacturers and may vary). Regardless of the watch manufacturer, get comfortable with one device and how it tracks your exercise.
For each bout of exercise, record your exercise session on the fitness tracking watch as it will record the number of minutes you exercised in any given heart rate zone. Being aware of the amount of time you spend in certain heart rate zones is a great start to counting your high-intensity points.
Increase your high-intensity points!
Regardless of the watch or the way the devices count high intensity, a good start is to assume that one minute equals one point. At first, it is best to become familiar with your heart rate recordings, exercise intensity, and how much time you engage in certain exercise intensity zones. Then begin to set goals for the number of high-intensity points you accumulate for each workout and for each week. As you become more confident, gradually increase your high-intensity points each week until you achieve your desired goal.
While there are no firm goals that are best for everyone, an excellent start would be to accumulate 30 minutes of high-intensity points each week. This may be a lofty goal, but it is always best to work towards a high goal! Over time, this type of exercise monitoring can help you achieve a high level of health and wellbeing.
Blue, Malia NM, et al. “The effects of high-intensity interval training on muscle size and quality in overweight and obese adults.” Journal of science and medicine in sport 21.2 (2018): 207-212.
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