As with any goal, it is important to measure the effectiveness of your exercise efforts. For example, if you are phoning in your fitness, your outcomes will be less than if you give it your all. How can you tell if your workout was effective? Here are some tips.

Heart Rate
It is important to strike a balance with exercise. Overexertion can lead to injury or other serious problems. Too little effort has its own drawbacks. To get it just right, the American Heart Association advises measuring target heart rate. To do this:
•    Take your pulse on the inside of your wrist, on the thumb side.
•    Use the tips of your first two fingers (not your thumb) to press lightly over the blood vessels on your wrist.
•    Count your pulse for 10 seconds and multiply by 6 to find your beats per minute. You want to stay between 50% to 85% of your maximum heart rate. This range is your target heart rate.

The range you aim for will depend on your age. Generally,
target heart rate is measured as 220 minus your age. Using this formula if you are 35 your heart rate will be between 93 and 157 beats per minute at 50% and 85% of your target heart rate. 100% of your maximum heart rate would be 185 beats per minute. Measure your heart rate periodically to determine how hard you are working. Of course, you can also use one of the many gadgets available on the market to give you feedback about your heart rate and effort.

It can be helpful to keep a fitness journal. Use it to track each of your workouts. Information such as:
•    Weight before and after exercise (may be an indication of how much fluid you have lost from sweat). A hard work out may mean more fluid lost.
•    Level of perceived exertion. How hard would you say you worked on a scale of 1 to 10? Try not to overestimate, be honest with yourself.
•    Distance covered. How many laps or miles have you covered week over week? Have you made any gains?
•    Reps completed. Are you able to complete more reps?

Body scan
Your body holds important clues to the effectiveness of your workout. For example, do you feel you could complete another ten reps? If so, you probably aren’t working very hard. You really want to get right to the point of muscle exhaustion – as in you couldn’t do even one more rep – without going over into injury territory. In other words, you should feel some fatigue.

Talk test

If you can carry on a full conversation you probably aren’t working out very hard. According to the Centers for Disease Control, The talk test is a simple way to measure relative intensity. In general, if you’re doing moderate-intensity activity, you can talk, but not sing, during the activity. If you’re doing vigorous-intensity activity, you will not be able to say more than a few words without pausing for a breath.

Examples of moderate intensity exercise include gardening and walking at 3 miles per hour. Vigorous intensity exercises include race walking, singles tennis and rope jumping.

Boost your workout benefits by exercising like you mean it. Don’t just phone it in, go all out for more effective exercise.