How Hard Do I Work? Introducing ‘The Goldilocks Zone’

Do you know how hard to work for exercises to be effective?

There are a number of ways we can measure exercise intensity, with most requiring physically demanding testing or expensive equipment. 

Luckily for us, we have a method that helps you to self regulate your intensity through your perception of the exercise itself.

Introducing, The Goldilocks Zone

The Goldilocks story relates to the nursery rhyme we all know from our childhood – We don’t want the porridge (exercise) to be to cold (easy) or too hot (hard), we want it to be ‘just right’. 

But what is ‘just right’? What is the perfect temperature porridge for our exercise gains? Let’s first start by placing a number on our exercise intensity using the table below:

What makes the exercise hard or challenging could be a number of factors for you depending on your goals, or the reasons or particular exercise. It could be due to shortness of breath/aerobic difficulty, it could be due to muscle strength/fatigue during the exercise, it could be due to pain, discomfort or apprehension, OR it could be due to nothing in particular. It might just feel HARD. 

The ‘Just right’ or ‘Goldilocks zone falls somewhere around a 5-8/10 on the scale, or at  a yellow/orange intensity. Where it feels slightly uncomfortable, like you’re working hard, but you can sustain the exercise at a reasonable quality. Each exercise should push discomfort but shouldn’t quite have you keeling over due to how difficult it is.

Sitting in this balance allows for both sufficient stimulus for adaptation and for adequate recovery. Not only this, but sitting in this zone also prevents overshooting to reduce risk of injury. Not too heavy, not too light. It’s juuuuust right. 

Keep in mind, this scale is flexible – some sessions will be in the green zone, some sessions you’ll feel like seeing how much you can push yourself into the red zone. But for the most part, we want that perfect goldilocks zone for sustainable and progressive exercise. 

Sometimes finding this goldilocks zone can be difficult, and may be flexible depending on your goals and ambitions. If you’re having trouble finding the right intensity for you (perhaps you keep overshooting, perhaps you feel as though you’re working hard but not seeing results), you’re not alone. 

Our team of Exercise Physiologists work hard to find the balance with you to help find your best intensity. If you feel stuck finding your goldilocks zone, contact us to speak to one of our friendly team members, or book in for an appointment with us below. 

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