There are 4 main biofeedback signals that we can experience during exercise. Dr. Jade Teta calls them the “Bs and Hs”. They are breathless, burning, heavy, and heat. People of all fitness levels can utilize the Bs and Hs to gauge the effectiveness of their workouts from a metabolic and hormonal standpoint. 

In post one of this 2-part series, I discussed two of the four biofeedback sensations. The Bs: breathlessness and burning. If you haven’t read part one already, I strongly encourage you to check it out before continuing with today’s post on The Hs: heavy and heat.

As a quick reminder, workout biofeedback – the Bs and Hs, helps us to gauge the effectiveness of our workouts. The type of exercise you do, and how you do that exercise, determines the hormonal outcome of the workout, and therefore, the results that you get:

  • Looking slim and trim, yet also toned and strong.
  • Preventing chronic diseases and improving quality of life.
  • Insert your desired results here!

When we challenge the metabolism through exercise, we create metabolic conditions that are favorable to fat loss. How you might ask? Effective training increases the demand on our metabolism, eliciting a number of hormonal responses that prime the metabolism to adapt. This is how we stimulate muscle growth, get stronger, and burn fat. Under the right conditions (i.e. sufficient rest and adequate nutrition), these adaptations are supportive of our body change goals.

Luckily, we can easily and effectively gauge our response to exercise using our biofeedback – the Bs and Hs, either during exercise, right after exercise or in the 1-2 days after exercise.

Review: The Bs

Breathlessness = Burn Fat

  • When to focus on this biofeedback: when you want to burn fat primarily. 

Burning = Burn Fat & Build Muscle

  • When to focus on this biofeedback: when you want to build muscle and burn fat

Now, how do we use the Hs to gauge the effectiveness of our workouts?

The Hs. Our exercise biofeedback continued…

Heavy = build muscle

When to focus on this biofeedback: when you want to build muscle primarily. Rest is critical.

What is it? Heavy is a sensation we experience when we lift or push loads of weight that create muscular strain and tension. It is strongly associated with the hormone testosterone, which supports lean muscle growth and fat burning. Because of the high demand placed on our muscles on joints, rest between sets is critical.

Types of exercises to incorporate: In this case, the type of exercise is not as important as the weight lifted. If we want to recruit testosterone to the scene, then we need to lift weights in the 8-12 rep range, or 10-rep max zone.

A 10-rep max is a weight you can complete 10 times but not 11.

In order to work hard, you must rest hard. Between working sets, rest for one to three minutes. Adequate recovery/rest time is required to support muscle recovery and to prevent injury!

How to gauge intensity: Listen to your body. Rest between sets is crucial. When you find that 10-rep max, rest 1-3 minutes between sets. Work until you can’t, rest until you can.

Heat = Burn fat

When to focus on this biofeedback: when you want to burn fat primarily. 

What is it? Heat is a thermal response. Sweating is our body’s way of cooling off. When we engage in exercise, our core body temperature rises, and we start sweating. This response is triggered by our nervous system, specifically the sympathetic nervous system (fight/ flight response). So when sweating kicks in, you know adrenaline has arrived to the scene. Sweaty selfie time?

Types of exercises to incorporate: Any exercise that causes a sweating response will work. In other words, it is highly individual. For some people, sweating kicks in during cardiovascular exercise like sprinting or plyometrics. For others, it might be weight lifting. It is probably a form of exercise that you don’t do very often, so your metabolism is less adapted to it. Whatever you choose, it requires the exerciser (you) to choose a form of exercise and/or intensity that makes YOU sweat.

How to gauge intensity: Are you sweating? When sweating kicks in, it is a good indication that the adrenaline response is adequate.

Bringing it all together during exercise

Not all of the Bs and Hs need to be leveraged at 100 percent in every workout. To achieve a specific outcome, exercise in ways that stimulate the appropriate biofeedback sensations. For instance, breathlessness to burn fat, or heavy to build muscle, as illustrated below.

To prevent boredom, mix it up. Have fun with it. Your personal preferences around exercise might dictate the type of biofeedback you experience. For example, you might prefer high intensity training and heavy weight training. Now you know the hormonal and metabolic response that type of exercise is eliciting.

Image reference: Next Level Metabolism by Dr. Jade Teta

Remember, if you didn’t feel the Bs and Hs during, post, or the 24-48 hours after training, then chances are, you didn’t elicit a response. No Bs and Hs, no metabolic adaptations. No body change results.

Let us know if you tried this. How did you incorporate this type of exercise into your training regimen? Did you notice any changes to your workout biofeedback?

And don’t forget to check out Post One of this 2-part series on The Bs: Breathless and Burning.

Photo by Victor Freitas on Unsplash