CrossFit has a stigma of being “too intense.”
What does that mean?
What is a hard work out?
How can we objectively define intensity?
In two ways…
One way is called rate of perceived exertion.
The other, a more widely known way, is heart rate.
If you regularly measure your RPE and HR you can create an objective and accurate depiction of intensity.
In other words, by measuring RPE and HR you can confidently say whether what you are doing is too intense…or not.
Rate of perceived exertion is on a 0-10 scale. After you do an exercise, ask yourself is this the easiest work I’ve done? (0) or is this by far the hardest work I’ve done? (10).
Heart rate can be taken by a watch, device or simply with your fingers over your artery at the wrist (see below).
If doing it manually, count the beats for 6 seconds then multiply that by 10.
Do this at rest to determine your resting heart rate (RHR).
For example, you count 8 beats in 6 seconds.
The math looks like: 8 (beats) x 10 (this is used to determine per minute)= 80 BPM (beats per minute).
Next, you can do a simple formula to determine your max heart rate (MHR).
Math looks like this…
220- (age)= Your Max HR.
This is a good starting point.
For example, if you are 30 years old it would be… 220-30= 190 BPM.
If you want to have an intense work out, let’s say 85% of your HEART RATE, then you need to…
220-(age)= Your Max HR x .85= Your HR at 85% intensity.
To use the 30 year old example it would look like this…
220-30=190. 190 x .85= 162 BPM.
Now, let’s put it all together!
If you have a really intense PERCEIVED workout, say an 8.5/10 on the RPE scale BUT your HEART RATE is under 70% max then you have a disconnect between how hard you CAN work and how hard you THINK you can work.
This is a good strategy to begin to connect your perception (subjective) with your bodies ability via HR (objective) to determine intensity.