Challenging exercise is super hard--then you take a break. The first thing that many people don't seem to understand is that when you do challenging exercise, yes it is as hard as you can do, but then you take a rest. It's a good way to get incredibly fit that involves a lot of rest time in between.
In any given gym, you will see some rather average gym goers who are exhausting themselves on the cardio machines, while you will see super muscle-y weightlifters laughing with each other between sets. Yes, the cardio machine people probably are working harder, but not getting good results. What gives?!
Most gym goers are doing exercise quantity over exercise quality. They are putting their time in, and they might be reading a magazine while they exercise. Conversely, the buff weightlifter is doing a set at very challenging weights, the best that he or she can lift, for about 20 seconds, and then takes a 2 minute break. Intense exercise requires constant focus. It is sort of uncomfortable regarding the intense level of focus. It's when you're exercising at the level in which you aren't saving your energy up for later--you're using all of the energy you can muster all right now. Then when you have nothing left to give--you take a 2 or 3 minute break, and do it all over again.
For runners, this would be sprints. For cardio people, this would be cardio machine sprints. For yoga people, it would be to hold a tough pose a little longer than is comfortable and to really hold stretches to the level of trying to make the body more flexible. For weightlifters, it would be lifting a set of weights which is at your top level of strength. Believe it or not, but the super intense exercise with frequent breaks is the way to get out of a fitness plateau.
Fitness quality is more important than quantity.
You gotta Grimace and Grunt. Challenging exercise means you exercise with the intensity to improve. This means that you will be grimacing or grunting or your tongue will be hanging out the side of your mouth when you perform the exercise--because you are trying your utmost best! Oh yes, I understand that you were taught that "Ladies don't blah, blah, blah..." I was raised that way too. You can have tea with your friends after gym, during which you can raise your teacup with your pinkie curled ever so gracefully.
But during exercise, we are not ladies and gentleman, we are fitness monsters! We are beasts who rule the world! We conquer our fitness. We show our weights and our exercises who's the boss.
Who's the boss? You's the boss!!!
Yes, this is the beautiful look of a fitness monster!
More exercise is NOT better. There are many fitness gym-goers and bloggers who are exhausting themselves by exercising so many hours per week but not getting the results they want. Not surprisingly, I used to do that too! I used to work out for 14 hours per week at the gym. Everyday, I was always somewhat tired from the previous day's workout. Now, I am down to about 6 hours per week at the gym. What happened as a result? I have rest days! I have days without any intense exercise where I just recuperate from the intense exercise I did the day before. It's a lazy day that: gathers me a great deal of energy for the next huge intense workout I do. (On my non-intense days, I still walk/jog the dog around the neighborhood.) When I am really fresh, I can do super hard exercises that require a great amount of energy intensity. I am not saying that you can't exercise every day. However, it might make you more fit if you have days with less exercise alternated with days of more intense exercise. It did for me. (And, I weigh less now than when I exercised many more hours.)
Exercise at YOUR challenging level. Oh boy, it doesn't matter what I'm doing at the gym--for you. And vice versa. Over the years, I've been at many different fitness levels. You do challenging exercise at your level. That's all that counts.
What do *you* think? As always, I hope this gives you food for thought. Please add your comment into the conversation. :D
Have a Splendid Day!