DIET&FITNESS Published September15, 2014 By Staff Writer

Pacing: An Important Factor in a Workout

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(Photo : Ed Yourdon - Flickr)

Working out is a vital component in maintaining good health. To maximize your workout routine, fitness experts say that the success of a workout depends largely on pacing.

Workout pace has to do with the distribution of energy during exercise. Properly pacing your regimen can help avoid not only boredom, but also fatigue. Experts also say that proper pacing creates rhythm, syncing the body and mind. Lastly, it enables the the person to continue pushing the envelop, developing and improving more and more after each exercise.

According to Dr. Kevin Thompson, a lot of exercisers and workout buffs know little about how to pace their exercise effectively. This little knowledge limits them on how they prepare their minds and bodies for a physical activity. Thompson is the author of "Pacing: Individual Strategies for Optimal Performance" and is the director of the Research Institute for Sport and Exercise at the University of Canberra, Australia. He believes that an athlete can only train properly for improved performance if he or she knows the ideal pace.

Dr. Thompson says that the classic beginner's error in marathon races is starting fast to try keep up with better runners. This can cause a mind-body split, he adds, wherein the body feels immediately tired due to abrupt intense exercise, despite the brain's knowledge that it still has a long distance to go before reaching the finish line.

Pacing is different in group classes, which are open to all fitness levels. According to Donna Cyrus, senior vice president of programming at Crunch, group classes are usually paced around a bell-curve model. This usually involves starting at a moderate level, pushing into harder exercises, then dropping down until the rate returns to resting state.

Another different type of workout pacing is interval training, wherein high intensity exercise is alternated with recovery periods.

Dr. Thompson adds that one important factor in maintaining workout pace is mental toughness. A good athlete accepts discomfort and uses those feelings to examine his or her development and areas of improvement, he said. 

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