Achieving the gains you are looking for in the gym is all about intensity. Without the right level of intensity your muscles won’t respond in the right way to the exercises you are doing and you won’t adapt at any great rate. So follow these top tips to up your training intensity and start seeing the results you want.
By Andrew Carruthers, Editor-In-Chief
Work to failure
Don’t be scared to throw in a set or two where you work to complete failure in your programme. This will ensure that you exhaust each muscle with the targeted exercises you choose to use and will significantly up the intensity of your workout.
Use advanced training techniques
Drop or strip sets and partial and forced reps are great ways to squeeze extra volume into your workout and increase the intensity of your sets. A drop set requires that you reduce the weight after each set, without taking a rest between sets. This allows you to increase the volume of work done in a session, while also fatiguing the muscle without the strain and stress of using heavy weight. A partial rep is a rep completed using a limited range of motion. This should be done at the end of the exercise set when you are unable to complete a full range rep, but want to keep the muscle under tension for longer. A forced rep, on the other hand, is a rep completed using momentum to lift the weight past the point of failure. This lets you push through the point of inertia to squeeze out a few more reps, but this needs to be correctly executed to limit the chance of injury.
Mix up your set structure
Supersets, giant sets and pyramid sets increase the intensity of your workout by upping the volume of your training and reducing the rest periods between sets. By intelligently combining exercises when doing supersets and giant sets you can also manipulate your training intensity and completely fatigue a muscle. In terms of pyramid sets, this technique allows you to push up the intensity by starting with a lighter weight and moving up to a heavier weight as you progress, which means you can progressively increase the intensity of each subsequent set.
The training principles of progression and overload are possibly the most important when it comes to building muscle mass. By trying to increase one variable every time you hit the gym each week you will continue to grow and improve your conditioning. Don’t forget to periodise this progression and overload though, otherwise you will be become overtrained.
Take the right attitude with you to gym
Hitting the gym when you are mentally tired, frustrated or uninspired will greatly impact on your ability to have an intense workout. Do some mental prep in the car on the way to gym and get yourself in the right frame of mind to hit the weights hard when you get there.
Bonus tip: Use any one of the great pre-workout supplements profiled in previous issues of Muscle Evolution to give you the kick you need before gym, to really push up the intensity of your workouts. Some hardcore music on your iPod can also work wonders on those less-than-inspired days.