Hey, there fellow mate! It’s time to check your progress after you’ve put in a lot of effort by working out regularly. Now let us check visible differences from ‘back then’ to ‘right now’ to judge your transformation. Oh wait, do you feel your abs aren’t defined enough? Maybe your chest doesn’t appear chiseled. Worry no more! If you have been consistent with your diet and you have been working out regularly, chances are that you weren’t reaching your maximum potential during your workout routine. Well, here are seven methods to increase your workout intensity for optimum results and I will explain them to you one by one. Let’s dig in!
1.Watch the clock
Truth is, nobody gets paid for sitting on the garden bench to admire flowers and chirping birds. Each one of us has a busy schedule starting from early mornings till 5 in the evening and sometimes even more. When busy people like us go to workout, we tend to have back to back plans post gym sessions. This leads us to hurry up our workout. In a way, that’s good if you reduce your rest time (I will get to this point further in this article). However sacrificing your actual weight training time can harm your gains.
While working out, the most important factor to reduce time is by watching the clock. Reduce your trips to the water fountain and carry your bottle with you, to every individual machine even. This reduces the time to fetch water, thereby reducing the gaps in between exercises. Fitness enthusiasts often meet other enthusiasts and get chit chatting. Avoid that as it breaks the momentum of your workout and your muscles are then exposed to unnecessary frequent cooldowns. Also while performing sets of exercises, take breaks after every set and not in between them. For example: If you have 3 sets of 10 repetitions, take a break after each set, not more than 60 seconds. This way your muscles are always spiked and you train them much harder.
2.Aim for Failure
Lifting heavy weights and performing lower repetitions or lifting moderate weights and maxing out your rep count are the two discrete methods of performing any weight training exercise. There is no doubt that both develop your strength and help you gain muscle, however, the most crucial factor determining your muscle development is based on how well you work your muscle. This is called as ‘Muscle Failure’. This means that while training, repetition of a set of exercise until your muscle is unable to carry the similar movement. It also means exhaustion of a single muscle or a set of muscles.
Many people fail to reach muscle failure. The cause is due to the misunderstanding between exertion and failure. Exertion causes higher heart rate and depletion of energy. It does mean that you have worked your muscle but muscle failure is altogether a different conception. For example: when you finish your second set out of three and you’ve managed to finish it with great efforts, you are exhausted. You will feel a searing pain and you might just think you have achieved failure, but hold on mate. You’re just exhausted. Failure occurs when you are absolutely unable to lift the same weight, or you barely reach the full range of motion of an exercise. It’s a step beyond all that pain and exertion. So make sure you do Aim for Failure. Get someone to spot you in case you go heavy and your muscle fails mid-way in a set for your safety. Just remember, it all comes down to your will power to go beyond your comfort zone and reach your limits.
If getting results efficiently is your priority (well, mostly), then a variety factors play a role in achieving a perfect blend for muscle hypertrophy. They constitute of how well you lift heavy weights to how quickly you work with them and for how long you can continue working with them. A perfect amalgam to put together these required conditions is by performing supersets. Supersets are exercises which involve clubbing two different exercises of similar body part or two different body parts altogether, in a row and without stopping.
For example, you can add one set of pushups after you finish one set of your bench press. You have now clubbed two chest exercises and made one Superset. Continue this for the following ‘n’ number of sets, until you reach muscle failure. But remember to not take a break in between each set, but only between each superset. In super setting, you have room for a number of variations for as long as you know what exercises can be clubbed together. This works well for circuit (full body) training regime or plain single muscle regime. Following this technique will help you save time and create a perfect bodily environment for good hypertrophy while increasing the intensity of your workout.
4. More Repetitions
Most of us hitting the gym cross our path with one age old question, more weights or more repetitions? Since both aids in muscle hypertrophy, they can be very different in ways. Sometimes while weight training people often reach a plateau i.e. the body adapts to the current workout regime and refuses to change. In this case, it’s mandatory to spice up your workout or a little refresh will be helpful. Now you might question whether going heavier would do the job or probably going lighter with more repetitions. In the case of heavy weights, you do increase strength. But when you go lighter and do more repetitions, you gain strength and also increase your endurance limit.
When you take a light weight approach, you enable yourself to lift weights for more repetitions. As a result, your net volume per workout increases, you then burn more calories and your muscles have a greater chance of reaching complete failure. One more advantage of adding more repetitions is that you hold the weights for longer which enable your stabilizing muscles (small muscles) that get worked out more, that wouldn’t otherwise. The basic call for increased repetitions is to gauge when you reach your fatigue limit. If you lift a weight and cannot complete 20 repetitions, that means you have reached your fatigue limit. Over time, when you are able to finish 20 reps successfully, your strength and endurance limit has increased. This way, adding more repetitions will help you get out of our plateau and get results efficiently.
5. Use Heavy-Weights
In the above section, I discussed going lighter on weights and adding more repetitions, and how they help you develop muscle. While you might think that the beam balance tips towards the former section, you will think neutrally after knowing this. When you lift a weight, your strength plays a major role beginning from the moment you lift the weight and to the moment you let go of them. Yes, engagement of stabilizer muscles, techniques, form are other attributes to perform an activity, however, strength will determine the energy spent per exercise. Energy spent per exercise equals calories burnt per exercise.
Lifting heavy weights takes a lot more efforts than lighter weights, on the contrary, the repetitions reduce. But, while performing isolation exercises, going heavy pushes the limits of your muscles. They stretch, swell and get micro tears very soon. Sudden change in the muscle structure exposes them to muscle hypertrophy. This method comes into play very effectively when you have reached a plateau. Putting your body under a ‘Shock’ helps the muscle to break their comfort zone, which they adapted in your previous workout regime. This way you end up feeling sore sooner and your net volume per workout will face a bump up.
A perfect balance of heavy weight workout along with a high repetition workout will help you gain size and shape sooner while reaching good muscle failure. This will drastically increase intensity.
6.Reduce Rest Time
When simply put, rest periods determine when you lose or gain muscle. Too long and you might not gain muscle, too short and you will start losing muscle. Rest times depend upon the type of your workout, how much an exercise exerts your body and for how long does each exercise/set last. If your workout intensity is very high, you will require more time to rest and the reverse for the opposite case. For example, if you are on a leg press machine and are relatively going heavy, your repetitions will not be as much but you will be blowing off steam (quite literally!) due to extensive exertion. In this case, you will need a break time of about 2-3 minutes to let your nervous system get recovered so you can hold your stability for longer. The more demanding your exercise, the greater will be your rest time.
While weight lifting, Adenosine Triphosphate Phosphocreatine produces energy which usually lasts for about 15 seconds, where you lift heavy weights usually for 1-6 reps. This source of energy requires about 2-3 minutes of break to gain energy back so you can work your muscle to lift the heavy weight again. While losing fat or doing high-intensity interval training the rest times are as low as 15 seconds because anything more than a minute will cool down your body.
So basically it all comes down to your goal whether be increasing strength or reducing fats. It’s finding the sweet spot where you can bring yourself to exert for one more set. This way, if you only give your body enough time to replenish, you will end up increasing the intensity of your overall workout. Which is exactly what you need.
7. Mentality- Say You Can!
Last but not the least, in fact, one of the biggest hurdle I have come across when people whine about not getting proper results. It’s when they have a mental block of ‘I can’t go any further’ or ‘I can’t do this’. Let me tell you, it does not matter if you follow the best diet, or get trained by the most experienced trainer. If you do not work hard and push or don’t follow anything properly, you will end up wasting time and won’t see results. Building your body is equivalent to taking care of a baby. It needs to be fed properly. It needs to be worked properly. Increasing intensity also involves 100% dedication and will power to go on that last set when your muscle gives you a shooting pain. You have to go beyond that and push yourself mentally.
“I don’t count my sit-ups. I only start counting when it starts hurting because they’re the only ones that count. That’s what makes you a champion” is what Mohammad Ali said when he was asked whether he ever counts his sit-ups. It’s the metal frame he lived by. To not give up and move further, dragging himself to beat his own ghost. If those last 2 repetitions can’t bring out the best in you, the remaining ones are just vain. So sit on the storm and be a tyrant. Push yourself and pull yourself to achieve things you never have. Focus on your goals and start your workout to only defeat yourself.
At IRONOID, we constantly strive to push ourselves personally because we believe that Energy and Strength are contagious. We help you achieve your goals, bring out the best of you. Just push yourself to the limits. Break your own goals. One Rep, Every Single Day.
Be an IRONOID.