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4 Methods to Measure Your Consumer’s Train Depth

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

Push too laborious, and so they’ll minimize the session brief out of frustration—and never return. Push too little, then again, and your shopper will fail to make the mandatory physiological variations (each cardiovascular and muscular) wanted to realize their health objectives.

To make issues extra difficult, you may’t merely take a look at depth on a “session-by-session” foundation.

It’s worthwhile to tackle a high-level view of your shopper’s train depth spanning weeks, or presumably months, to make sure they’re coaching in a means that offers their physique the time it must restore and recuperate. 

Even after you’ve developed an acceptable exercise program on your shopper, how have you learnt—for certain—in the event that they’re exercising on the meant depth?

Reply: By measuring their exercise depth. This text reveals you ways.


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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.

Basically, although, the better means 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 a number of examples of every:

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

Is Extra Depth At all times Higher?

To reply the query: In no way.

Along with recovery and injury concerns, there’s additionally the truth that there is no one-size-fits-all depth prescription. How laborious you make your shopper go will rely on a number of components, together with their health objectives, how they wish to work out, how their physique feels, and many others.

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

Learn how to Measure Train Depth

Listed here are the methods to measure your shopper’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 specific session, the upper the depth. That stated, this measure of train depth is not sensible.

Along with gaining access to a medical facility or a lab, you will additionally must get your shopper 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 means of measuring your shopper’s train depth is by their coronary heart fee (e.g., in the event that they’re sporting a fitness tracker or smartwatch).

Given the physique would eat extra oxygen as depth will increase, that’d additionally meant that, basically, the upper your shopper’s coronary heart fee, the extra they’re difficult themselves. Extra particularly, you may monitor and information your shopper’s train depth by calculating their Target Heart Rate (THR) range:

  • ¨ Average-intensity bodily exercise: Your shopper’s goal coronary heart fee ought to be between 64% and 76% of their most coronary heart fee.
  • ¨ Vigorous-intensity bodily exercise: Your shopper’s goal coronary heart fee ought to be between 77% and 93% of their most coronary heart fee.

That’s nice. However how would you recognize what your shopper’s most coronary heart fee is? Nicely, there’s a basic system (i.e., the “Fox system”) you need to use for that: Merely subtract your shopper’s age from 220.

For instance, for a 35-year-old shopper, their estimated most age-related coronary heart fee could be calculated as 220 – 35 = 185 beats per minute (bpm). Placing all of it collectively, meaning you’d need your shopper’s coronary heart fee to stay inside 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 a number of drawbacks associated to utilizing coronary heart fee as a measure of your shopper’s depth.

The primary is that, as with most formulation utilized in health, the Fox system isn’t all that correct. Actually, analysis reveals that utilizing the system to calculate coronary heart fee may offer you numbers which can be means off—perhaps by as a lot as 12 bpm up or down. That’s an enormous hole.

What about different formulation? Are they higher?

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

Within the worst-case state of affairs, you might find yourself pushing your shopper 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 numerous variables that may elevate or decrease your shopper’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 may 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 shopper workouts in chilly environments, their coronary heart fee may decrease (in comparison with their common readings)—which may trigger you to underestimate the precise depth of their exercise.

Lastly, you must also bear in mind that some drugs (e.g., beta-blockers) can alter your shopper’s response to train. So, you must 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 shopper is actually feeling in that second (e.g., stage of fatigue).

Fortunately, there’s a greater option to decide your shopper’s train depth. Bonus: It additionally occurs to be one of the user-friendly methods to measure exercise depth. And it is none aside from one thing referred to 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 commonly examine in along with your shopper—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: Average to laborious depth
  • ¨ 8 and better: Onerous to vigorous depth 
  • ¨ 10: Most capability (your shopper can’t presumably push themselves any more durable)

That stated, do be aware that RPE might be robust to evaluate precisely when your shopper is new to train.

In the event that they’re not aware of 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 Speak Check As an alternative

You would assist a shopper new to health get a greater grasp of what the RPE numbers appear and feel like for them via one thing referred to as the discuss take a look at.

With the discuss take a look at, all of your shopper 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:

  • ¨ Capable of transfer and discuss 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
  • ¨ Unattainable 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 best energy—i.e., subjectivity—additionally occurs to be its weak point. Which means your shopper’s perceived effort gained’t all the time be an correct illustration of how laborious their physique’s truly working.

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

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

A great way to get round this might be to ascertain a “baseline” of your shopper’s tolerance.

As an illustration: Possibly they all the time fee energy sled pulls as an eight on the RPE scale—though you recognize the depth corresponds to a reasonable jog on the treadmill, which they report as a 5. On this case, you recognize that you could nonetheless afford to push up their depth on the ability sled pulls (a minimum of just a bit). 

Repetitions in Reserve (RIR)

So far, all of the depth measurement strategies we’ve talked about are higher suited to conditioning train. What in case your shopper primarily does energy coaching?

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

So, how would you recognize the best RIR on your shopper?

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

Research present that it is a “candy spot” of kinds. That is the place your shopper would be capable of prepare with the depth wanted for muscle hypertrophy with out going to failure too usually, which limits the whole quantity they’ll do of their exercises and will increase their danger of sustaining accidents.

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

That stated, you need to be further cautious when utilizing this technique of measuring train depth with purchasers who’re new to energy 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).

In fact, there’s no higher means to assist your shopper familiarize themselves with their true failure level than to allow them to go to failure.

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


Whereas measuring your train depth isn’t as simple or well-defined because it sounds, it’s nonetheless an effective way to assist your purchasers assess simply how laborious they’re coaching. This may be invaluable once they’re attempting to trace their progress.

For clients just starting out, remind them to view these train depth measurements in a holistic means. Contemplate different components, particularly ones they cannot quantify resembling stress ranges, to allow them to higher recognize how every little thing is linked.

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


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