Hardness as a New Athletic Measurement

When we introduced Smart Workouts, we introduced a completely new way to train.  Rather than training at a given intensity, smart workouts have you training at a given level of strain.  What this means is that smart workouts never get too hard.  They are never too easy.  Imagine doing a workout that just before you get to the point where you can’t continue, it eases up letting you continue.  Imagine a workout that’s just below the hardest you’re able to go.  These provide great training benefits are what make Smart Workouts in Xert so unique.

But how hard can you go?  How much can you endure?

With Smart Workouts, using the innovative strain-based intervals now available, workouts with precise strain levels can be created.  These will be the same for every athlete, independent of their Fitness Signature.  We used this principle to develop a set of 16 workouts that are called Hardness Tests.  Whereas fitness tests help you identify one or more parameters of your Fitness Signature, a Hardness Test helps you identify how much strain you are capable of absorbing.  It measures your willingness to endure discomfort.

This is not a new concept.  Fatigue hurts.  Anyone that has done any exercise knows that with longer, high-intensity efforts comes greater discomfort.  It’s the body’s way of protecting us from doing unwanted damage to ourselves physically.  Some athletes dig deeper than others.  Some athletes are tougher.  These are all concepts we are all (likely all too) familiar with.

For the very first time we now have a way to measure it.

To determine your Hardness Level, start with a given level that reflects what you feel you could achieve.  One good way to estimate which level is to look at the XSS total for the Hardness Test and find the one nearest your current XPMC-based Training Load.   If you’re able to complete the workout, the level is your given hardness score.  If you abandon, you’ll need to try a lower level test the next time.  If you complete it, move up a level (or more depending on how it felt to you).  In general, levels 1-3 are for athletes recovering from injury.  Levels 4-8 are generally levels trained athletes can expect to complete.  Levels 9-13 are competitive levels.  Level 14-16 are extreme and are the domain of professional-level competitors.

Hardness Level Total One Hour XSS
1 50
2 60
3 70
4 80
5 90
6 100
7 110
8 120
9 130
10 140
11 150
12 160
13 170
14 180
15 190
16 200

Training Load and Hardness

Training load and your hardness level go hand-in-hand.  The more you train, the greater your willingness to endure discomfort.  Training improves fitness and improves your ability to express it.  Your hardness level is what determines the latter part of that statement.  Use hardness tests to give you an idea of how much training strain you can handle in one workout.  As your training load increases, so will your hardness level.

So don’t get discouraged if you can only complete Level 5 or 6.  As you continue to train and your training load increases, you’ll start to move up levels and improve your overall hardness as an athlete.