You’ve probably heard people in your local gym talking about workout intensity. Many of these people who constantly flap their gums about this aspect of training have no idea what it really takes to build workout intensity. They are also the ones who aren’t growing. Notice how they are performing the same exercises, using the same weight and rep schemes and just give up once the pain sets in? That’s called not doing your homework. Knowledge is power in this sport. If you understand how your body responds to weight training, you’ll be able to apply techniques that will help you avoid plateaus and keep you growing like a weed.
If you are able to create animal-like intensity in the gym, you are almost guaranteed to make monstrous gains in both muscle mass and strength. On an average day in the gym, I can be considered somewhat of a psycho. I’ll do just about anything to bring my muscles closer to the point of total failure. This requires the absolute greatest amount of mental focus and physical energy available, but is well worth it. Since I only train each body part once a week, or 4 times a month, I make sure they receive maximum stimulation by using Maximum Intensity. I contribute my quick gains to sound nutrition, plenty of sleep and extremely high intensity workouts.
Intensity is defined as the degree of effort put into each set of every exercise during a workout. The ability to push past the pain barrier and perform extra reps, will ultimately bring your muscles closer to, or hopefully well beyond the point of failure. Maximum Intensity requires developing your mind-muscle link. One way of developing this valuable link is to have your training partner place his thumb(s) on the muscle(s) you’re working, which allows you to concentrate on contracting that muscle. It must be done with total concentration, utilizing every ounce of your mental energy. You may consider yourself to use Maximum Intensity when you are left lying on the floor exhausted and in pain after completing a workout. Now that’s HIT.
Now that you have an introduction to Maximum Intensity, I’ll help you apply it to your workouts and have you blasting your muscles so hard, you will never hit a plateau. Here’s 10 techniques to spike intensity:
1. Supersets: There are two types of supersets. They can be performed on oposing muscle groups such as the biceps and triceps or on a single muscle group such as the back, chest, shoulders or calves. The advantage of supersets is that they force a lot of blood into the target muscle group, causing a much more intense pump.
2. Pre-Exhaustion: Perform a single?joint, isolation-movement before a multi-joint exercise to pre-fatigue the muscle group. This ensures that the target muscle is being totally fatigued and that the set does not end when a supporting muscle burns out. For example, do dumbbell flyes before the bench press. In order for this Techniques to be 100% effective, rest no longer than 30 seconds before moving from the isolation exercise, to the compound movement.
3. Descending Sets (Strip Sets): This technique is most effective if you have two training partners, but still effective otherwise. After you reach muscular failure with a certain weight, immediately strip the weight and continue until failure is reached a second and/or third time. This technique can be dangerous and may be applied to all exercises.
4. Cheating: Cheating is the most effective and most common method of training past the point of failure. Cheating is defined as using the weights momentum with a slight swing of the torso to move the bar past its sticking point. Its important to only swing your torso on the concentric phase of the movement, but slowly lower the bar under control. 2 – 3 cheating reps in each set is plenty.
5. Continuous Tension: Maintain continuous tension on muscles to maximize deep red?fiber involvement. This also ensures that your form stays correct and inhibits momentum from taking over. This causes a very intense burn, and should be applied to all muscles all the time.
6. Forced Reps: Forced reps are similar to cheating reps, but instead of using momentum to get past the sticking point, have a partner assist you move the weight. This ensures that the weight is under total control and allows you to place more stress on the target muscle. This technique can be dangerous, so only perform 3-4 forced reps at the end of a set.
7. Negatives: Eccentric training makes it possible to recruit deeper muscle cells because you can lower about 30% ? 40% more weight than you can lift concentrically. This technique definitely requires two training partners to help raise the weight. Only perform negatives every 3rd or 4th workout since they are so destructive to muscle fibers. Lower the weight very slowly, up to twice as slow as normal.
8. Exercise Variation: Although your routine should be based around classic mass building exercises, a variation in the angle, grip spacing, and body position can be changed to hit these muscles differently and ultimately confusing the target muscle group. Although they are the same exercise, slight variations will yield different results.
9. Backwards Training: This is a very simple technique that’s based on muscle confusion. Simply reverse your entire routine. Start with the last exercise, and end with the first exercise. If your routine is designed correctly, it should put the isolation movements before compound movements to shock the muscle and add intensity.
10. Decrease Rest Intervals: This is the biggest deciding factor weather or not your workouts will be completed using Maximum Intensity. Resting a maximum of 60 – 90 seconds between sets is what will cut down on your volume training and in tern jack up the intensity. Stretch during this rest period to relax and promote blood flow to the muscle.
Train safely, effectively and most importantly, keep it natural.
By: Bryan Locke – Courtesy Bodybuilding.com