Intensity - The King Of All Variables

We've all been there, waiting for a machine or bench as someone finishes their five minute rest before embarking on their last set, but not only is it an annoyance for those waiting, but also raises the question of intensity, or lack of in this case.

Intensity is a major part of my workouts, and I'm sure many others, but it is often overlooked. Intensity exists in all forms of exercises, and ranges from cardiovascular workouts, i.e. HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Training), to body-building, where we see the extremes of intensity in Dorian Yates' workouts – note this is the extreme of intensity, and isn't recommended for average body-building. The premise behind intense training, for example HIIT, is to reduce the recovery period between an exercise, and focus on short bursts of intense exercise. In terms of weight-training, this entails shortened rest periods between sets, to really work the muscles, usually leading towards what is known as muscle-failure.

It is obvious that not everyone's goals are aimed towards bodybuilding, and working the body to failure, but training with intensity is something I would recommend to anyone who enjoys pushing themselves to the limit. This type of training is ideal for those with a training partner, not only to help push through the final repetitions, but the recovery periods between sets are already in place when your training partner is completing their set. When I am unable to train with a partner, I try to stick to 30 second rests between sets, except for on heavier compounds like squats, and deadlifts, when I aim to take between a 90 and 120 seconds between sets.

This type of training is geared towards training muscles to failure, and in doing so, reaching 'the pump', somewhat graphically explained by Arnold Schwarzenegger in Pumping Iron! The pump is one of the best feelings you can get in training, as the blood rushes into the muscles, creating a tight sensation in the muscle. Training with increased intensity is definitely a routine I would recommend, even for a cycle of 6-8 weeks, however it should be noted that longer recovery times are required, as the muscles are being trained to exhaustion.

Want results? Be intense!

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