What intensity is the best intensity when exercising?

Written by: Matthew Koroneos
Published: April 11, 2023

This is a common question we get a lot… “MK Movement, tell me… I want to burn fat so which intensity zone should I exercise in?”.

I think it’s important we first define what the intensity levels are and explain what purpose each of those intensity levels is helpful for.

Please refer to the photo below:

Welcome to the poor man’s way to gauge intensity. It’s so simple but extremely effective and 99.9% of the time you won’t need to go out and buy all of these fancy gadgets like heart rate monitors etc…

There are 3 main types of intensity: Low, moderate and vigorous.

Please note that intensity is relative. For example, going for a walk around the block for a professional AFL footballer may be classed as low intensity, however for a sedentary office worker that could be moderate or vigorous intensity.

Now, when it comes to starting out as a “beginner”, the most sensible intensity to start with is low and progressing to moderate. Reasons being, it’s typically easier and more enjoyable and you can do it for longer periods without feeling gassed.

Low intensity is essentially how you feel when you’re with your girlfriend shopping, pushing the trolley, walking from the carpark into the shops etc… You feel a slight puff but you could sing and talk easily if you wanted.

Low intensity is where we accumulate a heap of our incidental exercise or daily step count for the day. This is extremely important for weight loss. Having “ants in your pants” and moving regularly is just as effective as doing 3 hard workouts for the week but then for the rest of the day sitting in your office chair staying sedentary. Interesting huh?

Moderate is what we call the sweet spot for most people. Moderate is where you probably couldn’t sing a song… Imagine you had to walk a flight of stairs consisting of 50 steps at the MCG… would you sing a song with no problems? Could you talk to someone next to you briefly if you had to?

When it comes to fat loss, this is the zone we are aiming for 30 mins a day most days of the week.

Can you think about how you currently feel when you exercise now?  And can you think of how you could slightly make it more difficult so you’re working a bit more in this intensity?

Vigorous is otherwise known as high intensity training. This is a super effective form of building aerobic fitness due to the positive strain we put on our heart and cardiovascular system. It has been shown that 30 mins of moderate intensity are equivalent to 15 mins of vigorous intensity. Cool huh! So, if time is a barrier, and you like getting workouts done quicker, then vigorous could be your friend… In saying that, working super hard means exercise is maybe not going to be as “fun”, is going to require pushing yourself quite hard and if you’re a beginner IT may make your tummy feel uneasy initially. Imagine you had to run up a steep hill for as long as you could?

It is an essential intensity to work in though if you’re a competitive athlete who plays sports as without a doubt you will need to condition your body to these “game like” intensities.

So, all in all, each intensity serves a purpose. I think the overall message is, working in a variety of these intensities across a given week is important so you’re covering all basis. Think of the talk test when you’re working out next to check in your in the right zone!

For any further questions regarding this blog, don’t hesitate to hit the contact us button so we can chat.

Matt Koroneos