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Not exactly smiling between intervals...

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created March 06, 2011 at 3:59 PM

I keep hearing I'm supposed to be smiling between sets of intervals... but the most I can muster is a pained grimace. Should I reduce my intensity? reduce duration? increase time between intervals? Or just grimace away?

My training typically consists of the following:

  • on elliptical trainer (too much knee pain to run)
  • flat out for 30 seconds
  • recovery pace until heart rate drops back below 140
  • repeat

I do as many cycles as I can over 20 minutes (about 7). Each set gets longer as my heart rate climbs. Flat out my heart rate gets to 175-180.

I have had amazing gains in fitness using this protocol twice a week for the past 4 months (when I started I could only do 2 cycles). So I find it's working. But no way am I smiling.

So should I just keep at it or tweak it? What are the benefits of dialing it down a bit? Thanks.

A6e2b231f69366ce825476c5a6dcfff6

(1967)

on March 07, 2011
at 06:45 AM

I agree, but I'm usually smiling 30-60 min later.

7e65e7c3794834b3526b77f92cabee55

(214)

on March 06, 2011
at 11:55 PM

If the smiling gauge is a heart rate monitor substitute then I'll just stick with the heart rate monitor. My pain tolerance seems to vary from day to day...

7e65e7c3794834b3526b77f92cabee55

(214)

on March 06, 2011
at 11:53 PM

Here's an example: http://paleohacks.com/questions/22090/is-there-a-tabata-light-exercise#axzz1FoaCvIqZ - see answer 1. I've seen this elsewhere as well.

7e65e7c3794834b3526b77f92cabee55

(214)

on March 06, 2011
at 11:50 PM

Thanks - this makes sense to me. More so than "smiling between sets". Grimace it is!

4145b36f1488224964edac6258b75aff

(7821)

on March 06, 2011
at 11:15 PM

If that's the case, it's a terrible idea. Your psychological pain tolerance isn't really going to be an accurate gauge of your heart-rate, especially compared to simply putting your finger on your neck and counting.

9d741bcbe702044635f2ce3078043054

(1435)

on March 06, 2011
at 10:05 PM

The smiling is supposed to happen between sets. I think its meant to be a guage, in the absense of a heart rate monitor, to use to determine when you are ready for the next interval.

Cb2415c2aef964ab499a09dc92ae7e01

(783)

on March 06, 2011
at 06:35 PM

ps - To OP, I don't think anyone cares if you are smiling or not. When I do something like your workout I am just catching breath as much as possible.

Cb2415c2aef964ab499a09dc92ae7e01

(783)

on March 06, 2011
at 06:34 PM

max effort sprints with heart rate that high are not boring. There is no reason to add other exercises and in fact these will just detract from the sprint session. Of course pushups etc are fine but do them some other time.

7e746be2f0e550a8cd7df881322ae705

(18701)

on March 06, 2011
at 06:10 PM

I've never heard the smiling thing and I've been doing HIIT for at least a few years.

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5 Answers

best answer

3
4145b36f1488224964edac6258b75aff

(7821)

on March 06, 2011
at 04:43 PM

HIIT is predicated on pushing yourself to the limit of your work capacity. There is no way to keep smiling through that unless you're a masochist.

Find me someone who can smile at 170% of VO2max and I'll show you someone with a broken pain center.

4145b36f1488224964edac6258b75aff

(7821)

on March 06, 2011
at 11:15 PM

If that's the case, it's a terrible idea. Your psychological pain tolerance isn't really going to be an accurate gauge of your heart-rate, especially compared to simply putting your finger on your neck and counting.

7e65e7c3794834b3526b77f92cabee55

(214)

on March 06, 2011
at 11:55 PM

If the smiling gauge is a heart rate monitor substitute then I'll just stick with the heart rate monitor. My pain tolerance seems to vary from day to day...

9d741bcbe702044635f2ce3078043054

(1435)

on March 06, 2011
at 10:05 PM

The smiling is supposed to happen between sets. I think its meant to be a guage, in the absense of a heart rate monitor, to use to determine when you are ready for the next interval.

6
072fd69647b0e765bb4b11532569f16d

(3717)

on March 06, 2011
at 08:05 PM

I find that my best and most productive workouts leave me on the verge of throwing up and shedding tears. I'll smile about it later.

A6e2b231f69366ce825476c5a6dcfff6

(1967)

on March 07, 2011
at 06:45 AM

I agree, but I'm usually smiling 30-60 min later.

2
Ab0369a70755bd07f44292b4ca8b2260

on March 06, 2011
at 04:41 PM

What's your goal? I wouldn't be smiling either, how boring. I'd add in other exercizes. If you love the eliptical, do that for 1-2 minutes, get off and do pushups for 1-2 minutes and then lunges and then get back on the eliptical. Intensity equals results. You may also have to shift your thinking into your improvements rather than the "suck" of the now.

Cb2415c2aef964ab499a09dc92ae7e01

(783)

on March 06, 2011
at 06:35 PM

ps - To OP, I don't think anyone cares if you are smiling or not. When I do something like your workout I am just catching breath as much as possible.

Cb2415c2aef964ab499a09dc92ae7e01

(783)

on March 06, 2011
at 06:34 PM

max effort sprints with heart rate that high are not boring. There is no reason to add other exercises and in fact these will just detract from the sprint session. Of course pushups etc are fine but do them some other time.

7e65e7c3794834b3526b77f92cabee55

(214)

on March 06, 2011
at 11:50 PM

Thanks - this makes sense to me. More so than "smiling between sets". Grimace it is!

1
9d741bcbe702044635f2ce3078043054

(1435)

on March 06, 2011
at 10:07 PM

140 is above my smiling heart rate too ;-)

When I do intervals, I rest down to a lower heart rate, usually 125-135, but I don't have any particular rationale for choosing that range.

1
263e2d3f741d1ecb0886454e977f4e6f

on March 06, 2011
at 09:00 PM

I've done some research on this, what I've found is you don't want to exceed 20 minutes of high intensity work, i.e. sum of all high intensity cycles. I started on a bike and went like hell for 30 seconds now I'm up to 2 minutes a cycle, I would play with varying your recovery time and trying to extend your high intensity time. Just remember not to hurt yourself.

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