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Intensity Defined

Intensity is the key to getting results from progressive resistance training. Intensity of effort relates to how hard you feel yourself training. Intensity of effect is the amount of stimulation you are able to deliver to the muscles, causing them to respond and develop. By realising the difference between intensity of effort, and intensity of effect, you’ll be able to produce maximum training progress.

Training Intensity For Muscle Growth

Initially, increasing intensity is not difficult. You get stronger and in better condition so you can work harder and longer and put more stress on the muscles. Once the body gets used to this effort, it becomes more difficult to escalate intensity at the same rate. If long rest periods are taken and training occurs at a slow rate, the intensity of your efforts is minimised.

Tips to Increase Intensity

  • Time is an important factor in increasing training intensity, and by manipulating it, you can increase intensity by doing the same amount of work in less time, or an increased amount of work in the same time. The most obvious way to increase workload is to train with more weight. Another valuable method is to cut down on rest periods. This puts greater demand on your endurance. Endurance, like strength, can be developed in a progressive manner, a little at a time. You should work at the fastest pace you are capable of without sacrificing good form. This way, you can do the maximum amount of work in the minimum amount of time.
  • The Shocking Principle involves catching the body by surprise by changing aspects of your workout. Always using the same kind of stress on the body, it gets used to this, with less response yielded. Shocking can occur with adding weight, more reps or sets, speeding up training, cutting down on rest or any of the following techniques. Shocking your muscles will make them bigger, stronger, fuller, harder and more defined.
  • Forced Reps can be performed by having your training partner supply extra lift to help keep you going. Rest/Pause training is another option whereby you use a fairly heavy weight and go to failure in each set, then stop, let the weight hang for a few seconds, and then force out an extra rep.
  • Partial Reps are where you are too tired to complete full range of motion repetitions. These are effective for many muscle groups and are a favourite of former Mr Olympia Dorian Yates. Partial reps are particularly useful at the end of a set, when you are almost exhausted.
  • Isolation Training is where you focus your effort on a specific muscle/group in isolation from other muscles. This method of training allows you to develop every part of your physique completely, by bringing up weak areas.
  • Negative Repetitions (also known as the Eccentric Phase) are when you lower a weight. The raising of the weight using the contractible force of your muscles is the positive movement. Negative reps put more stress on the tendons and supportive structures than on the muscles themselves. Tendon strength improvement is beneficial, as you want it to increase along with muscle strength. To get the benefit of negative reps, you must lower the weight under control, moving it deliberately and strictly.
  • Forced Negatives are where you have your training partner press down on the weight as you lower it, forcing you to cope with the greater resistance. These are more easily performed with machines or cables.
  • The Cheating Method is not about using sloppy training technique, but about deliberately using other muscles or groups to work in cooperation with the target muscles. It is useful when used occasionally. Used in the right way, cheating is used to make the exercise harder, not easier, and will help you target your muscles to make them contract to the maximum.
  • Heavy Duty Method refers to going to the heaviest weight you can handle after warming up, rather than pyramiding up, where weights are increased, and reps decreased. Muscles are forced to work to their maximum from beginning to end. To be used successfully, you need to select a weight that is not too heavy for you to complete your normal amount of sets and reps.

Increased Intensity For Muscle Growth

As you can see from this article, there is a great array of methods to add to the intensity of your workout, to ensure that you achieve bigger, stronger and harder muscle development. Despite their names, such as ‘cheat’ reps, they must all be performed with strictness of form and focus. Without this, you are failing to harness the power of these techniques for improved muscle growth.

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