How Intense is TOO Intense for a Workout?

With intense fitness crazes like CrossFit gaining in popularity, there’s a perception that pushing your body to the breaking point is a good thing. People seem to think that the harder you push yourself, the better your workout is. But that couldn’t be further from the truth!

CrossFit can be a fantastic exercise, but it’s the focus on overexertion that is completely out of whack. The truth is, your body actually hates being pushed past certain limits, and it gives clear signs to know what those limits are. Overexerting yourself can have disastrous effects on your body, both long- and short-term.

(Plus, strenuous exercise and rapid fat loss are both signals to your body that it’s not healthy enough to carry a child. So pushing yourself too hard while working out can affect your fertility too!)

There’s a much better way to gauge the effectiveness of your workouts and it has nothing to do with the number on the weights or the soreness of your muscles the next day.

Want to know what it is?

You simply need to let your body do the talking.

It’s much better to gauge your workout intensity by how it makes you feel, rather than how others judge it. A 6mph run may be easy breezy for some people and a strenuous workout for others. Listening to your body is the best way to determine what’s a good intensity for you.

Both moderate and high intensity workouts are healthy for the average person to participate in, and moderate workouts are best for those trying to conceive. Here are a few signals for each:

Moderate intensity:

  • You start to sweat lightly after 15 minutes of activity

  • Your breathing quickens but you’re still breathing very comfortably

  • You could hold a light conversation with a girlfriend

  • On a scale of 1-20 (with 20 being as hard as your body can handle), you’re performing at 11-14

High intensity:

  • Your breathing grows fast and deep

  • You start sweating after just a few minutes

  • You couldn’t get out more than a few words without stopping to catch your breath

  • On a scale of 1-20, you’re performing at 17-19

And while looking at the numbers on the treadmill or dumbbells isn’t a good measure of a workout’s intensity, the number of your heart rate is. Your heart rate is how many times your heart beats per minute — the higher the number, the faster your heart is beating.

A rule of thumb to calculate the fastest your heart can healthily beat is to subtract your age from 220. So for example, if you are 35 years old: 220 – 35 = 185, which is your maximum heart rate. (*This is just an example — always check with your doctor to confirm your maximum heart rate.)

In a moderate workout, your heart will be beating around 50-70% of your maximum heart rate. An intense workout will take you up to around 85%. But even in the high intensity workout, your heart rate should never exceed 85% — this crosses into dangerous territory where you’re pushing your body too hard.

If you’re extremely short of breath, experience pain, feel your heart racing, or have to cut your workout short because you can’t finish, chances are you’re overexerting yourself. It’s healthier to dial down the intensity, especially if you are trying to get pregnant.

Exercising too much OR too little can affect your chances of conception. We can help you find the right balance at your next appointment — give us a call at 717-747-3099 or click the button below to schedule.

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