Using a tracking device to measure exercise intensity is a great way to improve results – as well as ensure you avoid the very real dangers of overtraining.

Combining a mix of cardio, strength and flexibility training in your weekly workout regime is known to deliver the best results. Monitoring your actual performance during these workouts, however, is where it gets interesting.

According to ACSM guidelines you should be varying your exercise with a mix of moderate, vigorous and high-intensity training. Because intensity can be harder to gauge, this is where using of a fitness tracker can be very helpful.

“Fitness trackers can be a good way to log your workouts, track your progress and importantly, calculate intensities.”

There are a total or five exercise intensity zones, which reflect a percentage of your heart rate maximum. To train the varying energy systems and muscle fiber types it’s important that your weekly workout regime involves spending time in each zone:

  • Very light-intensity training zone = 50-60% of max heart rate
  • Light-intensity training zone = 60-70% of max heart rate
  • Moderate-intensity training zone = 70-80% of max heart rate
  • Hard-intensity training zone = 80-90% of max heart rate
  • Maximum-intensity training zone = 90-100% of max heart rate

The simplest way to monitor time spend in these training zones is with a fitness tracker. The Polar Ignite fitness watch is a great option, as you can easily access the LES MILLS™ workout profiles using the Polar app, so you quickly identify which classes you complete and compare the workout rates. This watch also monitors your sleep quality and recovery, and helps you choose workouts based on this.

Tracking your workouts to ensure you’re reaching the right intensity zones, is not only a great way to maximize your performance, it can play a vital role in preventing overtraining and limiting the risk of injury.

When you take the intensity and frequency of your workouts too far you risk taking yourself into the dangerous overtraining category, putting your body’s adrenal function under stress and potentially leading to long-term illness. According to Bryce Hastings, Les Mills’ Head of Research, avoiding overtraining relies on preventative action, which means constantly reviewing your training load and how your body is feeling as a result. “The data you get from a Polar fitness tracker makes it easy to monitor workouts and prevent overtraining,” he says.

Overtraining: what to watch out for

  • If you’re regularly doing high-intensity interval training workouts such as LES MILLS GRIT™ (where you use intervals to push your body to 85% of your maximum heart rate) and, over a four-week period, you notice your max heart rate is decreasing or your resting heart rate is increasing, it’s possible you’re overtraining. You can learn more about how too much HIIT can influence your sleep and recovery here.
  • If you’re experiencing more fatigue or muscle soreness than normal, chances are you’re spending too much time in the 90-100% of max heart rate zone. Remember, it’s recommended that you spend no more than 40 minutes per week with your heart rate above 85% max. If you’re doing too much, reduce the load to avoid future injury.

Find out some more signs you could be overtraining here. If you’re keen to find the best tracker for your needs, you can learn more about the difference between an activity tracker and a heart rate monitor here.

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