Here’s a really misconceived concept while in the gym resistance training! Remember the body reacts and adapts to the different types of stimuli’s we apply to it over time! If you do the same exercises, use the same weights, for the same amount of reps, day in and day out week after week, you can expect the same old results! This is simply because the body has adapted to the stimuli you have provided it over time! It’s time to switch things up so that your body under goes a new stress (stimuli) that it has yet to encounter! One way to do this is by changing up the intensity!
I know what you’re thinking! By intensity he means, grunting more, throwing the weights on the ground, wearing eye black to the gym and pouring water on your head during rest periods! That in my eyes is not intensity! That’s just one way to look and feel like an idiot! When you change things up by changing the intensity, your body will react differently than ever before. Which is a great thing, as mentioned above! So with that said, although there are thousands of ways to switch up the intensity, here are 5 ways that stand out in my mind and that I consider ways to intensify things.
#1 INCREASING OR ADDING WEIGHT TO AN EXERCISE (LOADING)
Switching the amount of weight (loads) you are using while lifting, or simply adding weight to an exercise that you have become accustomed to doing, with just body weight. This is a great simple way to change up the intensity as now more muscle filaments are forced to work and fire at once! This causes for more of a musculature / cardio vascular demand and adaption!
#2 REPS & SET SCHEMES
By switching up the amount of SETS you do now, your body is forced to adapt to do an exercise more times! I.e. going from doing an exercise 3x to 4x for example! This increase in volume can cause a totally different feeling to someone who has never done it! By switching up the amount of REPS you do your body is forced to go through a different adaptation as well. The 3 main protocols that give you a different adaption as far as sets and reps go are the following:
HYPERTROPHY – think moderate loads – medium rep ranges (6-12) lots of sets (2-6) (*body builders)
STRENGTH – think heavy loads – low reps (1-6) – 1 to 6 sets (*athletes)
STRENGTH ENDURANCE – think light loads – high reps (12+) – 2/3 sets (*body fat clients)
NOTE: *A dose of each protocol is important for everyone to do no matter what your goals are!
#3 INCREASES IN RANGES OF MOTION
Every person on earth needs to be able to perform and move through large ranges of motion while maintaining strength and stability! The following movements I am about to list should be mastered in the weight room and for everyday life!
HINGE (GLUTES – HAMSTRINGS) think dead lift variations
SQUAT (QUADS) think squatting variations obviously
SPLIT STANCE (OUTSIDE PORTION OF THE BUTT / HAMSTRING / CORE) think lunges / step ups / split squats / rear foot elevated split squats
PULLING (BACK) think chin ups / DB rows / TRX rows
PRESSING (SHOULDERS / CHEST) think pushups / overhead and bench presses
So with the understanding of the basic patterns listed above, one way to increase the intensity of the squat pattern would be to squat down deeper than you are used to usually squatting when performing the exercise! The deeper you go (increase in range of motion) the more muscles that simply activate and work!
#4 CUT DOWN DURATION / INCREASE INTENSITY
Another way to challenge the intensity in the gym when resistance training is by pairing exercises! So performing an exercise, then a short rest before performing another exercise quickly following! The key here is to go as heavy as you can while maintaining proper form and full ranges of motion within the protocols listed above! An example of pairing exercises could be a heavy squat for reps according to your protocol, right into a chin ups for reps according to your protocol! Let’s stop and think for a second here. Let’s say for instance it takes you 45 seconds to perform your set of squats and then after a 30 second break you are ready to perform your set of chin ups that take about 30 seconds, you just performed 2 really muscle demanding exercises in 1:45 seconds time! After a short minute break after completing the 2 exercises back to back that’s only 2:45 seconds! Let’s say you repeat these 2 exercises for 3 sets! That’s only 8 minutes spent getting a lot accomplished and kicking ass! Way more productive! Not only is this a great way to train as it will increase your heart rate, work more muscles at once, burn calories for hours after the work out, but it will condense the amount of time you spend in the gym! Most people over train because they spend too much time in the gym doing too many exercises! This can be non-beneficial as your body can become over worked and begin to store body fat as a result! So cut down the duration and increase the intensity by pairing up exercises that cause you too use some serious effort and weight while maintaining proper form!
#5 REST PERIODS
I think most people get the above point to cut down the duration and shorten up the work out to make things more intense! However again in my eyes intensity isn’t doing as many reps as you possibly can until failing, for a certain amount of time, and then right away going to the next exercise until failing, and so on and so on, with no regard for form or ranges of motion! Here is where most people are confused in my opinion. Most people want to rush through the work out as fast as humanly possible. Of course shorter rest periods cause for more calories being burned. However you must take the proper amount of time during rest periods! Your focus should be on resting just enough to maintain adequate form and use the amount of weight required! If you can’t do that than you simply need to take longer rest periods! Not only will you not be at your maximal potential if you don’t rest enough between exercises and sets but you will also put yourself at risk for injury. It is key to use the proper amount of weight, for the proper amount of reps, through the proper range of motion that will give you a nice safe push! Then before going to the next exercise you must rest enough that your form will not suffer! Remember, the faster you progress your exercises via loads and range of motion the more muscle you will build! Building muscle is so important to speeding the metabolism and decreasing body fat!