The Three “I’s” of Exercise!

The other day I got to thinking:

  • what are the key elements of an effective workout?
  • how can I make sure my clients do these things every time they exercise?
  • how can I make this simple?

I’ve decided that it can be boiled down to the three I’s.

Running Intensity


Now, I’m not talking about working out so hard that you puke every time you show up. In fact, I hope that never happens to you.

What I mean is I want your workout to be difficult. I want it to challenge you to get better each day. And, I hope you want the same thing for yourself.

Here are some ways that I judge if my clients are lifting with intensity:

  • they’re out of breath
  • the weight their lifting is very difficult (if it’s an appropriate amount, they usually have only one or two reps left in the tank by the end of the set)
  • they need to take a break to recover between sets
  • they tell me it’s difficult
  • they tell me it’s “burning” or they feel “jello-y”
  • they’re sweating
  • they need water
  • they’re focused

Do you experience these things while you workout? YAY if you do, you’re on the right track!


Think about this one, a lot. When you show up for your workout, do you have thoughts like: “Let’s get this over with.” “How can I get this done as fast as possible?” “I’ll just skip exercise X, Y, or Z today, it’s not a big deal.” Or even, “I’ll just go tomorrow.” Then you never do.

Instead, ask yourself, “What is my intention today?” Basically, what is your plan?

Some prompts you can use to help you figure this out are:

  • what do I want to accomplish by showing up today?
  • why am I here?
  • what are my short and long term goals?
  • how will what I’m doing today get me closer to those goals?
  • how will this improve my life?

Let’s take this one even further. I often tell my clients to lift with intention.

What does that mean?

When you’re lifting weights, running, horseback riding, surfing, or whatever, do it with intention.

I see a lot of people lifting weights that seem to just be going through the motions (lack intensity). Maybe they’re looking around a bunch, lifting such light weight that no focus is required, they’re walking around aimlessly, or maybe they just have no idea what to do.

Instead, focus on each rep. Make each rep count. Lift with a purpose.

This will breath life into your movement, and help you focus on what’s important right now instead of “just getting through it.”



Yep, you need to be smart about what you’re doing. Often times, I’ll see people doing the same types of lifts, or gravitating toward certain workouts. That’s fine, but we usually do the things we’re good at, and tend to avoid things we need practice at.

I get it, I LOVE lifting back exercises. I could do those all day, but I won’t because I know that’s not smart training.

If we do the same things too often, and tend to neglect other areas, we’re doing ourselves a disservice. We could even be creating imbalances in our bodies that could lead to bigger problems down the road.

Are you not sure how to write yourself a well rounded, intelligent program?

Hire a coach! You hire an accountant to do your taxes, a lawyer to take care of legal needs, etc. Why not hire a fitness coach to create a well rounded program for you, then help guide you through it?

Another way to think about exercising with intelligence is to be smart about the amount of activity you need for your goals.

Are you doing seven really intense workouts a week that allow little to no recovery? Not intelligent.

Are you looking for a workout that helps balance your mind and relieve stress, yet you rush through it and skip meditation? Not intelligent.

Are you eating poorly or skipping sleep? Not intelligent.

Are you only exercising one hour a week and expect to lose five pounds this month? Not intelligent.

ACTION STEP: What is one thing you can do this week to make your workouts better? Add intensity? Find a way to incorporate focus and intention? Be more intelligent with your activity? Let me know in the comments!

In general, without knowing your goals, I suggest getting a minimum of five smart, intense, well intentioned hours of exercise a week.