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The shift towards more intense exercise began as a great idea for most people. It lead people to realize that walking on a treadmill while watching TV won’t help with weight-loss, strength, bone density, or even your cardiovascular fitness. Strength and interval training deliver far superior results and massively improve the quality of life, but only if done responsibly. Unfortunately the most popular forms of intense exercise have taken a great idea too far and turned it into something that can be dangerous. To help you get the great results without the risk, here are 5 do’s and don’t’s for intense exercise.

Don’t make exercise a competition. Exercise is something you to do to enhance your life and/or sport, but it’s not the end goal. Competing on who can do the most exercise leads to sloppy form and extreme exhaustion, which lead to injuries and health problems.

Do challenge yourself. Your body will only change – more toned, expend more energy (lose weight), add muscle, add bone density – if it’s progressively overloaded. If it doesn’t challenge you it doesn’t change you.

Don’t train to failure: pushing until you can’t move is taking the above idea too far. End your set of exercise knowing that you could’ve done 1-2 more repetitions than you did. This is challenge that you can recover from, and you only get better in between workouts (while recovering).

Do remember the 3 P’s: at my studio we have the “3P” – no pain, puking, or passing out. Exercise should challenge you, but never hurt, make you feel nauseous, or make you feel dizzy or faint.

Don’t do plyometrics for cardio: a recent trend in DVD’s and fitness classes is taking very stressful jumping exercises and doing them as a 30-60min class. To put this in perspective Olympic athletes limit their plyometric work to fewer than 100 reps per week (or 20 min including rest) because exceeding these limits puts you at high risk for stress fractures and tendon ruptures.

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