Intensity: noun – “The quality of being intense such as, ‘the pain grew in intensity’.”
People talk about it all the time in regards to working out. Everyone says you should be ‘intense’ or they need to crank of the ‘intensity’. But after a while it can be hard to keep things going at such a high level.
Really it is impossible to go at 100% intensity all the time. If you did then soon you would be overtrained which results in losing ground rather than gaining it. So how can you get the maximum benefit of hard work without crossing over the line and going too far? The answer is to cycle up your intensity properly.
Keys to Intensity
Always get proper rest – Days off from training and full night’s sleep will rest both the body and the mind. This allows you to be in the proper position to work at maximum intensity. When you are drained or tired it is impossible to give it 100%.
Have easy days – If you don’t feel that your mojo is working on a particular day either take it off or scale back your workout that day. If you only workout moderately you will maintain your strength and size. That is much better than overworking and losing some of either.
Don’t use intensity techniques all the time – Your body can’t handle going at 120% every workout. At most pick one exercise and use a technique on the last set for beyond maximum effort.
Mix things up – Sometimes changing around your routine like exercises or days you workout helps. The variety can help refresh both your body and mind which then makes it easier to give maximum focus.
Don’t work longer, work harder – Adding more sets and time at the gym will just sap your energy and become detrimental to your gains. Learn to focus for short, intense bursts and then rest up.
Slow Reps – This is very under used but very effective. Slow down the pace of your exercises. Take a 2 or 3 count to go up and the same amount or longer on the way down. Also hold the contraction for a 2 count. Slowing down forces a bigger pump in the muscle by keeping blood in the area longer.
Drop Sets – On your heavy set aim for 5-6 reps with maximum weight but have the bar loaded up so you can strip 10% of the weight off (or 20%). Do max reps and then reduce the weight then immediately do as many more reps as you can then repeat the sequence one more time.
Forced Reps – Use a spotter to help you (as little as possible) to move the weight for another 3-4 reps after you reach initial failure.
Rest-Pause – On your heavy set crank out maximum reps. Rest 15 seconds then try for another 1-2 reps. Rest 20 seconds then try for more reps. Rest 30 seconds and do any more reps that you can. This is similar to drop sets but without reducing the weight.