Increasing exercise intensity means you will burn more calories and improve cardiovascular fitness. You don’t have to change your entire program. Making a few simple changes can quickly increase the intensity of your workout.
Picking up the pace is one of the more obvious ways to increase intensity. Track the time it takes you to run or walk a mile and set a goal to shave of a few seconds each time you work out. Increasing the cadence on the bike or elliptical machine and moving more quickly from one strength training exercise to the next are all ways you can make your workout more intense.
Use your arms.
Raising your arms above your heart will quicken your breathing and heart rate to make your workout more challenging. Whether you are on a cardio machine or out for a walk, try pushing your hands overhead and then pull them back down for 30 second intervals throughout the workout. If your cardio machine has moving arm handles, use them and get the arms swinging. For circuit workouts, add cardio segments like jumping jacks or raise your arms into the air as you march or jog in place.
Add a hop.
Adding a bounce to your step will get the heart pumping. If you walk for exercise, try skipping a few steps. When doing knee lifts or kicks, add a hop as you switch legs. Instead of stepping side to side, add a jump. You can also incorporate hops into plank moves. Try plank jacks where you jump your feet out to each side and back together, or pick up the pace during mountain climbers.
Hit the hills.
Your heart works harder as you increase elevation. Adding hills or stairs to your route is an easy way to bump up intensity.
Add a power interval.
During a power interval, you will increase your speed or pace for 30 to 60 seconds and then slow your pace to recover. Power intervals can be added to all types of workouts. On a spinning bike, increase the cadence, or during a run, sprint. If you are a walker, increase your speed and swing the arms more vigorously.