How Can I Increase My Fitness Level?

A lot of my patients ask me how they can increase their fitness levels and what I recommend is something called high-intensity interval training. It’s something I’ve been doing now for a couple of years and I really enjoy it. I’ve noticed a definite increase in my fitness levels doing high-intensity intervals.

The way it works is fairly simple. First of all, you have to figure out what is your maximum heart rate. And a good way to estimate this is by taking the number 220 and subtracting your age. For example, if you were age 50, 220 minus 50 would be 170. Now, you want to start off your exercise at what we call a base pace which is up to 70% of your maximum heart rate. So if the maximum heart rate you just calculated was 170, 70% of that would be about 120. So your base pace gets you to a heart rate about 120.

There is a “push pace” where you’re trying to exert yourself a little bit, so that you start to get a little bit breathless. And that will be 70-85% of your maximum heart rate. So in this example, between 120 and about 145.

And then we would actually do a small amount at your all-out pace going as hard as you can for approximately 30-60 seconds, so just a short burst of sprinting as hard as you can. And that will get you up to 85-90% of your maximum heart rate. So in our example, between 145 to a heart rate of about 165.

What happens is as you do these high-intensity intervals what you’ll find is over time you will be able to recover back to your resting heart rate more quickly, and the fitter you get. That’s definitely something that I’ve noticed. I do my training at a studio called Orangetheory Fitness here in Kelowna, and I wear a heart rate monitor for the duration of my exercise. At the end of my exercise class, I get a nice little print out that explains exactly how much time I have spent in each of those heart rate zones. So my goal is to spend a certain amount of time in the green zone, a certain amount of time in the orange zone where I’m pushing myself, and a little bit of time in the red zone where I’m really going all out. Over time I find that that’s an excellent way to increase my overall fitness.

Some of the exercises are not necessarily geared towards cardiovascular fitness but also geared towards strength and power. So we also do things like bodyweight exercises using straps called TRX that hang from the ceiling. You can do a triceps extension, you can do biceps, and you can do rowing, there’s a variety of things that can be done with these straps.

We also work on core exercises, so things like leg extensions, sit-ups, crunches, and bicycle type activities on a bench or laying on a mat on a floor. There are other floor exercises that don’t require any weights such as something called the bear.

And finally, we do some exercises with weights as well and, of course, there are a variety of things you can do with simple dumbbells.

In conclusion, if you’re looking to increase your fitness, try to incorporate some high-intensity intervals into your weekly exercise routine.

Dr. Grant Pagdin

Dr. Grant Pagdin

Dr. Pagdin is a leading expert in regenerative medicine in Western Canada. Dr. Pagdin is board-certified with the American Academy of Anti-Aging and Regenerative Medicine (ABAARM) and a Member of the Interventional Orthopedics Foundation. His primary interest is preventative and anti-aging medicine using stem cell and platelet-rich plasma (PRP) treatments.

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