Training Intensity: Creating A Plan For Success

performance training

Ever wonder why your coach at Peak always checks in on how you’re feeling before each workout? “How are you feeling?” “How did you sleep?” “What feels tight?” It’s not just about being polite or creating a friendly atmosphere – it’s about understanding your body’s state for effective training. 

If you want to get the most out of your training to lose weight, change your physique, or simply feel better in your body and mind, keep reading and learn the science behind these pre-workout inquiries and how they tie into the delicate balance of our autonomic nervous system.

Understanding the Autonomic Nervous System:

At the core of our body’s response to exercise lies the autonomic nervous system, composed of the sympathetic and parasympathetic branches. The sympathetic system gears us up for action, inducing the fight-or-flight sensation. This includes an increased heart rate, redirected blood flow to muscles, and heightened alertness – all essential for a vigorous workout. However, this heightened state shouldn’t be the constant norm, as it introduces additional stress to the body. Enter the parasympathetic nervous system – the recovery phase. It lowers heart rate, facilitates better circulation to major organs, and kickstarts the repair of damaged tissues.

Importance of Alternating Intensity:

Recognizing the physiological impact of exercise underscores the importance of a well-structured training program that alternates between high and low-intensity days. This strategic approach ensures adequate recovery, preventing the body from being perpetually under stress. Managing these training days may seem intricate, but it’s a crucial aspect that can be simplified.

Strategic Management of Training Days:

Creating an effective training program involves a thoughtful balance of high and low-intensity days. On high-intensity days, focus on compound lifts, usually lower body but not always, lifting heavy loads, and engaging in more intense conditioning work like Tabata, sprints, or extended high-intensity intervals (HIIT). On the flip side, low-intensity days can consist of aerobic or Zone 2 training for conditioning or targeted upper-body resistance exercises. The key is to consolidate high-intensity methods on one day or, depending on effort levels, space them out with a 48 to 72-hour interval.

Optimal Planning for Recovery:

The crux of this strategy lies in optimizing recovery while maintaining overall fitness gains. Incorporating low-intensity days between high-intensity sessions can be like hitting the reset button for your body. A light mobility and easy Zone 2 day can help the body recuperate while also moving the needle towards holistic health a little bit further. Also, understand that on days where outside stress is high (work, kids, life), it may be better to take the day off and utilize some light meditation or go for a walk outside.


The significance of alternating training intensity is grounded in the science of our body’s response to exercise. A well-designed program that transitions between high and low-intensity days aligns with the natural ebb and flow of our autonomic nervous system. It’s not just about physical exertion; it’s about fostering an environment that promotes recovery and long-term fitness success. So, the next time your coach asks about your readiness for the workout, understand that we are trying to help you bring better awareness to how your body and mind are feeling that day. 

About the Author

Kyle Dorsten is the Adult Program Director at Peak Human Performance. Following his time as a Certified Athletic Trainer providing medical care and rehabilitation programs for a multitude of patients, Kyle acquired his CSCS hoping to bridge the gap between rehab and performance. Following a stint with Premier Health and Ohio State, he found his way to Peak Human Performance in 2020. He strives to cultivate a sense of compassion and belonging with all those he works with as well as creating a welcoming environment for any who come to Peak. His ultimate goal is to show all who come to Peak the true strength they have within themselves both mental and physical. Follow Kyle: @dorsten24

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