How & Why to Exercise Outside Your Comfort Zone

Tanja Djelevic by Tanja Djelevic | September 10th, 2009 | 3 Comments
topic: Fitness, Health & Wellness

istock_000009508032smallOne of the most important components of effective physical training is INTENSITY. Here’s how to achieve ideal progress both physically and mentally by knowing how to recognize what zone of intensity you’re in, and pushing yourself into higher zones.

The 4 zones of intensity

There are four zones of intensity:

Zone P (Pain) represents too much intensity. If you’re experiencing pain, you should train with less intensity and progress slower, or stop what you are doing and tend to the pain or injury.

Zone C (Comfort) is the level most people train in. It’s comfortable, and as you continue, it requires less and less energy output to stay there.

Zone R (Rest) is essential for recovery, setting the stage for strengthening and healing, which leads to more effective workouts the next time you do train.

Zone O (Outside of comfort) is the peak. In order to achieve IDEAL progress both physically and mentally, you have to be willing to push yourself into Zone O. In fact, pushing yourself to this level is important for growth in ALL aspects of your life. Stepping outside your comfort zone is essential if you want to change for the better.

Zone O stimulates improvement in your cardiovascular conditioning and physical strength, in a shorter amount of time. Longer training sessions, therefore, are not necessarily more effective because they drain your level of intensity. Even short bursts of energy in Zone O during the day can have effective results, if they are executed with consistency.

Find your Zone O and build an exercise program that challenges you to raise your levels of intensity. The goal is to make every workout session effective — think quality, not quantity! If you know what to do and how to do it, all of your training results, no matter how long or short, can be considered a success.

Live outside of your comfort zone

Once you have mastered the art of Zone Theory and applied it to your exercise program, the next step is to apply it to every day living. In conflicts at your workplace or in your relationship, stop and think, deliberate and communicate, work on acting outside of your comfort zone. This will allow you to progress to the next level in life, helping you to evolve beyond a conflict or drama that might have paralyzed you in the past. You will have a new and improved confidence in yourself and the tools to count on when you need them in the future.

Remember, the mind is a powerful “muscle” that you need to exercise, just as much as your body. Both can, and should, be used anywhere and everywhere. It is important that there is consistency and the right intensity.

Push yourself to train in Zone O! If you are a long-distance runner, maybe you should try yoga for a while. If you’re stuck in the gym all the time, get outside and ride a bike or try an obstacle course. It might seem unappealing to get outside the house and go for a walk on a cold winter’s day, but just the fact that you do it WILL stimulate your progress. Every single time that you hammer out success, it WILL motivate you to do more, and don’t forget … LIVE OUTSIDE THE COMFORT ZONE!!

Live Life Loud!!


  1. Tanja: This is great advice. Lately I have been trying to find new ways to interact in the world…ways that require me to move outside my comfort zone. When I do this, I feel a sense of accomplishment.

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