Workout Intensity - The Key To Success In The Gym
It's What You Do In The Gym... Don't Just Check The Box
As harsh as it sounds at least 60% of people going to the gym will never see any notable results.
Is this because of genetics, bad luck or circumstance? No.
It's because they lack intensity in their workouts.
Talking on the phone, texting between sets, taking 10 minutes of rest between each exercise, trying to figure out how to use a machine... I've seen it all before.
Saying 'I go to the gym 4 days a week' doesn't mean shit.
It's what you do in the gym during that time. If you're lounging around, lifting light and barely breaking a sweat it comes to me as no surprise that you're probably not going to be getting the results you want if any at all.
Your time in the gym should be a struggle, it should be hell. Heavy weights, high intensity - pushing yourself harder each and every day.
Workout intensity can always be increased... I've found a number of ways that have helped me increase my workout intensity.
6 Tips To Boost Your Workout Intensity
There's a ton of different theories and methods to increase your workout intensity, I've tested many and have found the following 6 to be the simplest to implement while offering the best bang for your buck in terms of intensity boosters.
Have A Plan
When you step into the gym you should have a plan.
Know in advance the exercises, sets and rep range you're going to be working in for that particular workout.
Going to the gym without a plan of attack is very much like getting in your car without directions... you'll find yourself second guessing what you should be doing, wasting time while looking for a particular weight/machine and you won't know whether you applied progressive overload and pushed past your previous records because you're performing different things and you're all over the place.
An intense workout is planned.
Know what you're going to be doing before you set foot in the gym.
Have A Playlist
Whenever I'm training with a good playlist my workouts are far more intense than when I don't have my headphones on.
Whether it be heavy metal, rap or electro... whatever music motivates you and gets you in the zone to relentlessly lift those heavy weights, that's what you'll put on your playlist.
However, it's important that you set this up correctly. If you're constantly having to change songs on your playlist or find yourself surfing YouTube between sets you're wasting your time and you're losing intensity. Ensure it's a set and forget. Get in the gym, put your headphones on, start your playlist and don't touch your iPod until you're done.
Another benefit of listening to music while training in terms of intensity is that people are less likely to start conversations with you if they see you're wearing headphones(Greg Plitt said he also wore headphones but never had them plugged in).
Have A Time Limit
45 minutes - 1 hour is optimal time to perform your workout.
If your workout exceeds an hour chances are the rest periods you're taking between sets are too long or you're performing excessive amounts of volume per workout.
Force yourself to get a sufficient workout done in an insufficient amount of time. If you don't set a time limit it'll take all the time you have - that's parkinson's law.
Be Ready For War The Moment You Get In The Gym
If possible, foam roll, do your mobility drills and dynamic stretches before you step into the gym, then you're warm and ready to kill it from the get go instead of cutting your workout short due to insufficient time.
Particularly on leg day, I found myself having to cut my workout short due to running out of time...this is because once I got to the gym I spent far too long performing my dynamic stretches and mobility work - now I perform these drills and use my foam roller before I go to the gym (and still get in a sufficient warm-up) in a much quicker time.
I'm able to then get in a couple of light sets upon getting to the gym before jumping straight into the heavy stuff.
Supplement with caffeine in the form of a strong black coffee or a home-made pre workout supplement.
Caffeine is proven to increase mental focus and physical endurance as it is has been the subject of many, many studies over its long lifetime.
If you're like me and you train early in the morning a caffeinated beverage of your choice coupled with a cold shower before leaving to go to the gym will have you ready for an intense workout every day of the week.
Don't Confuse Volume For Intensity
Don't make the mistake that many guys make of confusing an increased workout volume for an increase in intensity.
Adding a couple of extra sets or an additional exercise does not necessarily increase the intensity of your workout. Workpout intensity is increased by reducing rest periods, by lifting heavy and actually applying progressive overload - striving for that additional weight or that additional rep.
Low volume workouts are often the most intense workouts as the exertion required for each and every repetition is immense vs. the comparative effortlessness of oodles of high repetition light weight work.