Intensity In Fitness Training

Hey friends!

How’re you doing today?? <–does anyone ever answer that question? Hah.

I am doing well–it’s an early morning again for me :) Gotta get those endorphins while you can, ya know!


I get asked this question a LOT: I am not seeing results-WHY?

It really comes down to several things, but a MAJOR one? Intensity. Intensity in fitness training, to be exact.

When you find an activity or exercise that works for you & your goals, that’s awesome. That means you love it, you look forward to it, and you’re going to stick to it. Wahoo!

However, results will plateau. It’s science, people.

The body gets used to something over time– the output required by the body lessens until it plateaus, and that same activity doesn’t deliver results any more.

This is why it’s SO important to change up the components of the FITT principle (Frequency, Intensity, Time, Type) on a regular basis (about 8-12 weeks).

{Constantly changing activities or fitness plans don’t do much for us either. But that’s a whole other blog post.}

The most convenient of the 4 components to change? INTENSITY.


And the proper amount of intensity will deliver results.

It’s not too good to be true–and it can be applied to anyone, anywhere. Read below to figure out how it can be applied to you & your fitness training!

Intensity In Fitness Training

If you’re doing a walking-type plan, options to change up the intensity include:

  • quickening your pace
  • adding in some short jogs during each walk
  • stopping during walks to do some jumping jacks/pushups/or slow lunges
  • swinging your arms more
  • strapping on leg weights or holding light hand weights

If you’re mainly running, options to change up the intensity include:

  • increasing the hill work you do
  • changing up the speed & length of speed work
  • running with a faster running buddy
  • completing negative split runs (decreasing pace each mile) for several per month
  • (if on treadmill) playing with the incline & speed



If you do circuit training,  options to change up the intensity include:

  • recruiting more muscles at once instead of solely using isolated moves (i.e. biceps curl in a lunge)
  • reducing the rest periods between exercises or circuits
  • adding weights or levels to moves (i.e. pushups off a medicine ball, burpees with weights, etc.)
  • using a timer to force yourself to do moves quicker
  • grabbing heavier dumbbells during the strength portions
  • adding in plyometrics moves

If you weight train, options to change the intensity include:

  • lifting more weight (this is how I change up the intensity in BodyPUMP for myself)
  • varying the tempos of the moves (another huge one in BP)
  • using a mix of bodyweight exercises and free weights, instead of just doing one or the other
  • adding in levels to your ‘normal’ moves to work off of (benches, Bosus, pull up bars)
  • changing the number of reps and/or sets of a certain move or exercise in conjunction with varying the weight selection

Simple changes can be so effective in fitness training.

The key is not the absolute weight lifted or speed ran, it is rather the overload of the exercise, relative to each of us, that produces the result. And therein lies the secret! You shouldn’t be training like everyone else to get your results, you simply must vary the intensity of YOUR workouts to get the results YOU’RE after.

With varying levels of intensity (depending on where you are at fitness-wise) what needs to happen is muscle fatigue in weight training, aerobic systems pushed a little more in cardio workouts, and a change of pace in any exercise.

Small tweaks = big change over time! No matter who you are, this applies. :)


I am off to some early a.m. BodyPUMP & work craziness. Have a FABULOUS day!

In YOUR workouts lately, how have YOU changed up the intensity?? If YOU haven’t, what are YOU going to do differently to get the results YOU want?? And….how ARE you doing today?! :)

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  1. Speed work! I definitely notice a difference when I incorporate speed work into my routine!

  2. Definitely great advice Annette!

    I’m in the middle (well, 2 weeks in) of a twelve week training plan that changes up every 4 weeks – I already peaked ahead and the intensity definitely goes up! Added cardio and more circuits – should definitely avoid a plateau 😀

  3. Speedwork definitely works really well for me! I can tell even when I do it just a few times before a big race. In fact, I’m running it next week to prepare for my Fall half… I usually do hills one week then speed the next. Plus I’ve had faster running buddies lately and that also helps.

    BodyPump… it is crazy when increasing weights! You definitely feel it the next day!

  4. such a good post…always need to know how I can change things up to go more out of it.

  5. Oh great post! I love all the advice on the different types of workouts and way to vary the intensity. Its so important to keep the body guessing if you want to make changes in your body!

  6. Danielle says:

    Great post as usual! I’m always changing my workouts or tweeking them from week to week – it keeps it interesting because if not, it can get stale. I will make modifications to my swim (for example) by simply adding sprints, or using paddles and doing some pulling/pushing, or just going for distance. For runs I love doing progression runs! Starting my first 10 minutes at one pace, then going faster every 10 or 15 minutes. Great way to make a run more interesting and butt-kicking! My main issue is core strength – I need more of it! So I’m reallly trying to make myself do core exercises and it is not natural or easy for me :p
    Today I’m doing great, but I’m sure ready for weekend already! lol

  7. Haha I’ll answer how I’m doing – not super great today! Now that the marathon is over I have to deal with everything I put off until afterwards, like having no idea what I want to do once I graduate, or what state to take the bar in! I do, however, know I plan to add some intensity into my workouts! Haha the one plan I do have!

    • Just breathe, my friend. Soak in the amazingness that you just accomplished! :) Life will turn out just the way it needs to for you to enjoy the beautiful blessings it has to offer. Just trust that, and you’ll feel guided to the right places. xox

  8. LOVE this post!! I’m really getting into running and want to make sure I’m not plateauing, this advice was really helpful! Thanks :)

  9. I hit up hills when I need to get an intense workout it. Exhausting but efficient.

  10. I’ve increased my weight in Body Pump to add the intensity, added a push up to my burpees and increased the intensity and my effort when I teach Body Step!

  11. I’d love to hear more about how constantly changing our activities or fitness plan doesn’t do much for us. I tend to switch up my routine every time I go to the gym. Is this noneffective?
    The only constant I have is running. I need to be better about changing the intensity of my runs but I just LIVE for my long slow runs!

    • It’s not super effective because it doesn’t give the body a chance to take it in, adapt, and then create the change. That’s why most plans are about 6-8 weeks. I’ll go in more detail probably next week :)

      Running is the bomb!

  12. Phoebe says:

    Hi Annette! Thanks for the tips. I’m getting really addicted to weights – love the empowerment! Will start adding in more circuit workouts :)

    I have a question though: you mentioned that we should allow rest between weight sessions (same muscle groups), but how frequently can I do circuit workouts (usually with both weights + cardio)?

    Also, could you suggest the amount of different workouts per week? (For instance, I usually do 2-4 weight sessions, 1 HIIT cardio and 2 steady cardio). Where does circuit workout fall into?

    • Good question! You could combine 1 cardio day with some weights, OR, you could change weight sessions to include cardio bursts (making it technically ‘circuit’ training). Usually circuit training involves moving quickly from one move to the next, and often includes weights & cardio. However, the word ‘circuit’ can be used loosely, which may add confusion to the mix 😉

      If you like ‘plain’ lifting days, then try not to do a circuit that includes those muscle groups with weight. For example, if you did a legs day on monday, don’t do a circuit the next day that has a lot of squats, lunge hops, or frog leaps.

      Does that make sense? :)

  13. Great post, Annette! While I do know the principle of switching up the intensity of workouts to avoid/break through plateaus, it’s great to have a reminder every now and then. It’s so easy to stick to a routine once it’s set (the hard part seems to be actually getting into a set routine!) and those plateaus do happen quickly if you aren’t continuously and constantly motivating and pushing yourself out of the ordinary. So thank you for the post and the friendly reminder to ‘switch it up’! Also, thanks for all the great ideas on changing things up by activity! SO HELPFUL!

  14. Great post in that it incorporates so many methods of training. I for one am guilty of finding something I love and then sticking with it…sometimes getting too comfortable with it! I hope you dont mind if I share your ideas with my clients…and Ill follow some of them too!:)


  1. […] to UP THE INTENSITY to break through those plateaus and keep your training […]

  2. […] course there are various ways to manipulate intensity in a workout (read a bunch of them that I listed in a throwback post!), so not everyone needs to follow the same workout program, class, or fad. Do what you love and […]



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