Go hard or go home. Train insane or remain the same. If Pinterest was your personal trainer, every workout would be crazy-tough and include extreme sweat and soreness. But that thinking is flawed.
Even though challenges are great for you—and could lead to a sweat-soaked shirt and achy muscles—exercise shouldn’t leave you drained.
“Working out shouldn’t be breaking us down,” says Jessica Matthews, assistant professor of exercise science at San Diego Miramar College. “It should be building us up.” Plus, neither sweat nor soreness is a good way to measure how effective your workout is. Instead, here are six science-backed ways to know you’re putting in the right kind of effort.
1. Your heart rate says so.
This one’s probably the most objective way to measure how good your cardio workout is. “A good workout—by most definitions—involves a heart rate of three-fourths the maximal heart rate, sustained for 20 minutes [or longer],” says Daniel Vigil, M.D., who specializes in sports medicine at the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center.
So how do you calculate that…