Ten Steps to More Training Intensity

by Bobby Rock

There are two primary ways to ensure that you will continue to make progress at the gym (or wherever you prefer to lift): 1) Vary your routine from time to time so your body won’t develop an immunity to your training, and: 2) Utilize some time-tested intensity techniques regularly to fully engage hypertrophy, the body’s natural mechanism for producing stronger, better-conditioned muscles through resistance training. The intensity techniques we’ll get into today will help you on both counts.

Intensity has to do with the amount of effort you exert while training, and it is usually characterized by feeling an extreme pump at the gym, followed by a couple days of manageable soreness.  If you have a decent routine, this is likely already happening to some degree.  However, it is advisable to “up the ante” every few workouts or so and make things even more intense.  Here are ten of my favorite techniques for doing just that. Try one or more at your next workout:

Weight: Increase the amount of weight you normally use on a given exercise, but try to get at least the same amount of reps.

Reps: Increase the number of reps you usually do for a given exercise, but use the same weight.

Volume: Increase the number of sets you typically perform of a given exercise.

Rest: Decrease the amount of rest time between sets.

Compound Sets: Select between two and four different exercises that work the same body part and perform them back-to-back, with little rest between sets.  (Do at least two of these compound set cycles for best results.

6. Contraction: Keep the muscles you’re training fully engaged and contracted throughout each set by not “resting” at the top or bottom of a rep.  (Avoid locking-out elbows, knees, etc.)

7. Partials: At the end of a given set, do a series of 10 or more quick burn-out reps—somewhere between the top and midpoint of the movement—utilizing only a “partial” range of motion.

8. Pre-Exhaustion: Perform several lighter, high-rep sets of an exercise for a given body part, before putting that same body part through your normal workout.  (Example: Do several sets of push-ups before starting your bench press routine.)

9. Slow-Mo: Perform a few random sets where you execute each rep at about half the normal speed, but use your usual amount of weight.

10. Strip-Sets: Start with a heavier weight on a given machine, go until failure after around 10 to 12 reps, then reduce the weight and repeat this process several more times in one continuous set.

Enjoy the burn!


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