Preference and tolerance for high-intensity exercise performance and enjoyment

Allyson G. Box, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign
Jonathan R. North, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign
Andra J. Whitney, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign
Yuri Feito, Kennesaw State University


High-intensity exercise has been shown to result in physiological benefits. However, little is known about why individuals choose to initiate and continue engaging in this type of exercise. It is likely individual differences exist that explain why some maintain a high-intensity exercise regimen while others do not. Thus, the purpose of the present study was to examine the predictive role of intensity preference and tolerance traits on performance and enjoyment from a high-intensity workout. Participants (N = 34; 33 ± 8 yrs) completed the Preference for and Tolerance of the Intensity of Exercise Questionnaire, then performed a 12-minute high-intensity workout (HIW; consisting of a 5 pull-ups, 10 box jumps, & 15 wall ball throws AMRAP). Intensity preference [b(lower–upper CI); 0.475(0.169–0.782), P = 0.002], but not tolerance [0.140(−0.254–0.535), P = 0.486], explained variance in HIW performance (i.e., number of repetitions completed in the 12-min AMRAP), while neither preference nor tolerance were meaningfully associated with post-HIW enjoyment (rs < 0.27). However, performance explained meaningful variance in enjoyment [0.435(0.233–0.637.18), P < 0.001]. Thus, intensity-preference influences the number of repetition completed during a HIW, but intensity-preference and tolerance are less important for HIW enjoyment. Rather, more completed repetitions was related to greater enjoyment, and experiencing greater exercise enjoyment may lead to continued high-intensity exercise engagement.