As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases from

4 Methods to Measure Your Consumer’s Train Depth

There’s an artwork to managing your consumer’s train depth.

Push too laborious, they usually’ll reduce the session brief out of frustration—and never return. Push too little, alternatively, and your consumer will fail to make the mandatory physiological diversifications (each cardiovascular and muscular) wanted to attain their health targets.

To make issues extra difficult, you’ll be able to’t merely have a look at depth on a “session-by-session” foundation.

It’s essential to tackle a high-level view of your consumer’s train depth spanning weeks, or probably months, to make sure they’re coaching in a method that offers their physique the time it must restore and get well. 

Even after you’ve developed an appropriate exercise program in your consumer, how have you learnt—for positive—in the event that they’re exercising on the supposed depth?

Reply: By measuring their exercise depth. This text exhibits you the way.


Download the Personal Trainer Career Guide

What Is Train Depth?

First issues first. Let’s cowl the fundamentals of train depth.

Within the strictest sense, train depth is defined by the amount of energy required to carry out the bodily exercise per unit of time.

Generally, although, the better method to think about (and clarify) the idea of depth is a measure of how laborious the physique is working throughout bodily exercise. Train depth is normally measured as low, reasonable, or vigorous. Listed here are just a few examples of every:

  • ¨ Low-intensity train: Strolling slowly, driving a motorbike, lifting mild weights
  • ¨ Reasonable-intensity train: Mountaineering, brisk strolling, biking, water aerobics
  • ¨ Vigorous-intensity train: Working, swimming, leaping rope

Is Extra Depth At all times Higher?

To reply the query: By no means.

Along with recovery and injury concerns, there’s additionally the truth that there is not any one-size-fits-all depth prescription. How laborious you make your consumer go will rely upon a number of components, together with their health targets, how they wish to work out, how their physique feels, and so on.

A common rule of thumb is that you just shouldn’t be having your consumer do greater than two to a few high-intensity exercises per week.

Measure Train Depth

Listed here are the methods to measure your consumer’s train depth—within the order of least accessible to most accessible.

Oxygen Consumption

In train physiology, oxygen consumption is the golden standard for measuring train depth throughout cardio (i.e., “wants oxygen”) train.

The upper the oxygen demand throughout a selected session, the upper the depth. That stated, this measure of train depth is not sensible.

Along with accessing a medical facility or a lab, you may additionally must get your consumer to carry out the train whereas respiratory right into a mouthpiece that collects data on impressed and expired air. You’ll be able to deal with this data as “good to know.”

Coronary heart Fee

A extra accessible method of measuring your consumer’s train depth is by their coronary heart fee (e.g., in the event that they’re carrying a fitness tracker or smartwatch).

Given the physique would devour extra oxygen as depth will increase, that’d additionally meant that, typically, the upper your consumer’s coronary heart fee, the extra they’re difficult themselves. Extra particularly, you’ll be able to observe and information your consumer’s train depth by calculating their Target Heart Rate (THR) range:

  • ¨ Reasonable-intensity bodily exercise: Your consumer’s goal coronary heart fee must be between 64% and 76% of their most coronary heart fee.
  • ¨ Vigorous-intensity bodily exercise: Your consumer’s goal coronary heart fee must be between 77% and 93% of their most coronary heart fee.

That’s nice. However how would you understand what your consumer’s most coronary heart fee is? Effectively, there’s a traditional formulation (i.e., the “Fox formulation”) you should utilize for that: Merely subtract your consumer’s age from 220.

For instance, for a 35-year-old consumer, their estimated most age-related coronary heart fee can be calculated as 220 – 35 = 185 beats per minute (bpm). Placing all of it collectively, meaning you’d need your consumer’s coronary heart fee to stay throughout the vary of:

  • ¨ 118 to 140 bpm for moderate-intensity bodily exercise (185 x 0.64 and 185 X 0.76)
  • ¨ 142 to 172 bpm for vigorous-intensity bodily exercise (185 X 0.77 and 185 X 0.93)


Drawbacks to Utilizing Coronary heart Fee

That stated, there are just a few drawbacks associated to utilizing coronary heart fee as a measure of your consumer’s depth.

The primary is that, as with most formulation utilized in health, the Fox formulation isn’t all that correct. The truth is, analysis exhibits that utilizing the formulation to calculate coronary heart fee may provide you with numbers which might be method off—possibly by as a lot as 12 bpm up or down. That’s an enormous hole.

What about different formulation? Are they higher?

Effectively, not precisely. Different formulation used for calculating the utmost coronary heart fee, together with the HUNT and Tanaka formulation, are liable to overestimating the utmost coronary heart fee for ladies.

Within the worst-case situation, you could possibly find yourself pushing your consumer dangerously near their precise most coronary heart fee—whereas nonetheless believing that they’re squarely within the “moderate-intensity” zone.

One other con related to counting on coronary heart fee as a measure of depth is that it fails to think about the various variables that may elevate or decrease your consumer’s readings on any given day.

For instance:

  • ¨ Sleep: Studies present {that a} lack of sleep, a actuality that many adults worldwide wrestle with, will elevate the center fee by 5 to 10 bpm.
  • ¨ Stress: Excessive-stress ranges could cause a quick heartbeat or coronary heart fee. This study, as an illustration, discovered that office stress can elevate coronary heart charges by 4 to six bpm.
  • ¨ Climate: When your consumer workouts in chilly environments, their coronary heart fee may decrease (in comparison with their common readings)—which might trigger you to underestimate the precise depth of their exercise.

Lastly, you also needs to remember that some medicines (e.g., beta-blockers) can alter your consumer’s response to train. So, you need to always advise your client to see their doctor for a medical check-up earlier than tweaking their train depth and even earlier than beginning them on a brand new routine.

Fee of Perceived Exertion

As talked about earlier, as a result of coronary heart fee is an absolute quantity, it fails to seize how your consumer is actually feeling in that second (e.g., stage of fatigue).

Fortunately, there’s a greater solution to choose your consumer’s train depth. Bonus: It additionally occurs to be one of the user-friendly methods to measure exercise depth. And it is none apart from one thing known as the Fee of Perceived Exertion (RPE) scale.

The RPE scale ranges from 0 to 10, with 0 being resting and 10 being most effort.

So, the concept with the RPE scale is to recurrently test in along with your consumer—and get them to fee how laborious they’re engaged on a scale of 0 to 10. That can assist you get a way of what the numbers imply:

  • ¨ 0 and 1: Principally being immobile
  • ¨ 2 to 4: Low to reasonable depth
  • ¨ 5 to 7: Reasonable to laborious depth
  • ¨ 8 and better: Exhausting to vigorous depth 
  • ¨ 10: Most capability (your consumer can’t probably push themselves any tougher)

That stated, do word that RPE may be powerful to guage precisely when your consumer is new to train.

In the event that they’re not conversant in how their physique responds to train—when it comes to how completely different depth ranges make them really feel bodily and mentally—then it’s laborious to make an correct evaluation.

When You Ought to Use the Discuss Take a look at As an alternative

You would assist a consumer new to health get a greater grasp of what the RPE numbers feel and appear like for them by one thing known as the speak check.

With the speak check, all of your consumer must do is take note of how breathless they’re. 

Right here’s how their breathlessness “interprets” into the RPE scale and, in flip, train depth:

  • ¨ In a position to transfer and speak simply: 1 to three; low depth
  • ¨ Speaking begins to require effort however continues to be sustainable: 3 to five; reasonable depth
  • ¨ Speaking will get uncomfortable: 5 to 7; excessive depth
  • ¨ Inconceivable to get out greater than a phrase or two at a time: 7 to 9; approaching the utmost depth

Drawbacks of RPE

Sadly, RPE’s biggest power—i.e., subjectivity—additionally occurs to be its weak spot. Which means your consumer’s perceived effort gained’t all the time be an correct illustration of how laborious their physique’s really working.

In the event that they discover a explicit train (e.g., Bulgarian cut up squats) uncomfortable, they’ll in all probability give it the next RPE ranking even when their effort isn’t equal to that tolerance stage.

Plus, different components like whether or not your consumer enjoys a selected coaching technique or exercise routine and the way properly they tolerate discomfort can affect how laborious a exercise feels to them on any given day.

A great way to get round this is able to be to ascertain a “baseline” of your consumer’s tolerance.

As an example: Perhaps they all the time fee energy sled pulls as an eight on the RPE scale—regardless that you understand the depth corresponds to a reasonable jog on the treadmill, which they report as a 5. On this case, you understand you can nonetheless afford to push up their depth on the facility sled pulls (not less than just a bit). 

Repetitions in Reserve (RIR)

To this point, all of the depth measurement strategies we’ve talked about are higher fitted to conditioning train. What in case your consumer primarily does power coaching?

Then you should utilize one thing known as “Reps in Reserve” (RIR)—which refers back to the variety of reps your consumer has left within the tank after finishing a working set. Or, in different phrases, what number of reps they really feel they may have carried out earlier than reaching technical failure, the place they’re unable to do one other rep with correct type.

So, how would you understand the best RIR in your consumer?

Effectively, primarily based on research, there seems to be an efficient—but protected—RIR vary for gaining muscle and power: between 1 to three reps.

Research present that this can be a “candy spot” of kinds. That is the place your consumer would have the ability to prepare with the depth wanted for muscle hypertrophy with out going to failure too usually, which limits the overall quantity they’ll do of their exercises and will increase their threat of sustaining accidents.

Which means? You need to have your consumer finish most of their working units 1 to three reps shy of failure. 

That stated, you have to be additional cautious when utilizing this technique of measuring train depth with shoppers who’re new to power coaching. That’s as a result of newbie lifters are likely to underestimate their true failure level—usually by as a lot as 5 reps (or extra).

After all, there’s no higher method to assist your consumer familiarize themselves with their true failure level than to allow them to go to failure.

Simply word that your high precedence ought to all the time be security (e.g., arrange the security bars on the squat rack in case they lose management).


Whereas measuring your train depth isn’t as easy or well-defined because it sounds, it’s nonetheless a good way to assist your shoppers assess simply how laborious they’re coaching. This may be invaluable after they’re attempting to trace their progress.

For clients just starting out, remind them to view these train depth measurements in a holistic method. Think about different components, particularly ones they can not quantify corresponding to stress ranges, to allow them to higher recognize how every thing is linked.

And most significantly, keep in mind that many of those strategies are subjective, which implies arriving at extra “correct” measurements will take time and expertise. So, they will must be affected person and preserve training.


New Call-to-action


We will be happy to hear your thoughts

Leave a reply

Home Essential
Enable registration in settings - general
Compare items
  • Total (0)
Shopping cart