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What matters more, effort or intensity?

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Like let's say I'm on the elliptical at the gym and my friend who's in better shape is on another one next to me. We're both working at the same intensity level and I'm sweating a lot and breathing hard while she can still talk. Am I burning more calories? Hope you understand what I mean

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That doesn't make sense. If you were working at the same intensity you would both be as "out of breath". The difference is she would be at a much higher resistance or going much faster.


Edit - it does make sense, I just need to learn to read.

Here's a theory,  You are both on the same type machine doing the same cadence with the same resistance.  Therefore you are doing the same amount of work which requires the same amount of calories.  Your friend is in better shape so it is easier for him/her.  But this would probably require that you are about the same size too, if you are a lot bigger you'd be doing a little more work.

Thank you!

Original Post by armandounc:

That doesn't make sense.
Makes total sense to me. OP, yes, you and your friend working the same levels on the same machine, would still mean that you are exerting different levels of energy.  But don't compare yourself to others. Just make sure you kick your own ass.

On the elliptical I use they wrote Intensity for resistance so that's what I meant.

I actually misread what you said, I apologize.

No problem :)

awww, that's nice ^


Thanks for your answer btw.

If you and your friend are about the same weight, you would burn the same amount of calories even though it was harder for one of you (the one that wasn't as fit). Fit people can burn more calories (per pound of body weight) than unfit people. It is a common misconception that "fit people burn fewer calories."

Effort is usually correlated with intensity. 

What is a hard effort and high intensity for YOU, may be completely easy for somebody else. 

For example: running 8.0 mph is pretty difficult for me to maintain for longer than 3-4 minutes, but running 8.0 mph may be a light jog for someone more experience and/or taller than me (I have little stumpy legs on my 5'2 frame!)

The elliptical is a pretty bad way to estimate intensity too as you are in charge of how fast you are moving the pedals. You may be on the same resistance level but you may be going faster/slower than your friend-- ie: not the same workout. 

A good estimate of how hard you are working is the Rate of Perceived Exertion Scale (RPE), where 1 is very little to no activity, and 10 is your max intensity. The majority of your workout should be around a RPE of 5-7, with short bursts of intense work at about a RPE of 8-10 throughout the workout. Use a RPE of 3-4 for your warm up and cool downs. 

A good way to tell how hard you are working is to do the talk test-- at 3-4 you should be able to talk easily; 5-7 RPE you may need to take breaths between words, and talking begins to get harder; at 8-10 talking gets very difficult to nearly impossible. 

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