Is there that one guy or girl who trains at your gym with the utmost intensity that it literally scares the bejeebers out of you and everyone else alike? At almost every gym I've set foot in, there is always that one person who trains with the ferocity of an animal. They treat every set as if it were their last set and every rep as if their life depended upon completion of that rep.
So you think to yourself: "If I could train with that intensity, I could really make improvements in my own physique." Now the question goes a little something like this: How does one improve upon intensity? Well, this is no easy feat. I've been doing this for a little more than three years and I've only recently discovered the true meaning of intensity.
I like to call this level of self inflicted torture the "zone." Now you're probably wondering what the hell the "zone" is but let me assure you that once you are able to reach this mental state, you will become addicted to it. Before I go on any further, I am almost willing to bet that each of you out there have unknowingly stumbled across this "zone" before.
It's that workout where everything seems to be in perfect order, you get an out of this world pump, your strength increases, and you enjoy the workout. Think about it for a minute. Have you ever had that one workout which stands out in your mind? Now imagine if you were able to produce this workout everytime you set foot in the gym. The possibilities are seemingly endless. Here are two major key elements of concentration to focus on.
If you ever wish to push the threshold of your physique, then it is imperative that you find your "zone." You have to find ways to motivate yourself whether it be intrinsic or extrinsic. Think about why you train? Is it for self satisfaction, for competition, or to look good for others. On a personal note, I believe that if you train for the latter reason, then you may want to re-evaluate your thinking.
Train because you enjoy it and for the way it makes you feel about yourself and not because someone may or may not like you. Once you have found your motivation to train, then you can extrapolate ways to find your "zone." If you train for self satisfaction, then take pride in how you train rather than how you look.
If you concentrate solely on how you look, you will be more tempted to compare yourself to the cover models of fitness magazines and will surely set yourself up for disappointment. Not a good way to find your "zone." If you train for a competition, take pride in being the best that you can be through the level of intensity you can manifest internally.
Don't be the overweight bodybuilder wannabe who trains with a smelly ActiveWear outfit while hoisting around ridiculous amounts of weight with piss poor form all in hopes of getting a glance here and there. I take this attitude and present it to you because although I know I will never be the biggest or strongest guy in the gym, the size of my heart more than compensates for the former.
Finding Your Zone
Now that you've established the motivation behind your training, you are ready to search out your "zone." Remember that there are an indefinite number of levels in the "zone" and the more accustomed you become in reaching the "zone," the higher the level you will reach. You have to find ways to turn on the motivation in order to reach the "zone."
Think of it this way: the motivation is the fuel which propels the automobile, your body, from Point A to Point B. The higher the level of motivation, the greater the level of the "zone" you are able to reach, thus producing a more efficient path of travel from A-to-B. After all, the shortest distance between two points is a straight line. No sense in taking curve after curve.
Motivation can be a problem for many but I have found that by finding music which heightens my alertness, I am able to reach my "zone" in almost no time. It also helps having the intrinsic motivation to be the best but many individuals lack this initially.
I believe the desire to be the best is something inherent and must be concentrated on in order to fullY develop it just like anything else. You don't just wake up one day and decide to train with Dorian Yates-like intensity.
You'd probably do more harm than good so take it one step at a time. Intensity is something which is accrued over time just as long as you have the right motivation.
Another good way to up the level of intensity is by learning to enjoy the pain you get from lifting big weights. If you've beaten a personal best on a lift, you feel extremely good about yourself. A lot better than if you were to use the same weight for the same number of reps.
Personally, I'm not happy unless I've been able to improve in some area of my program from one training day to the next for a particular body part. I know some of my friends who actually try to tune out the pain during a set by thinking about something else. What the hell is that all about? Remember the mind to muscle link? Well, how can you make this connection if you tune your muscles out?
These are the same guys who complain about not having any kind of muscle development particularly legs. Leg training in the zone takes a true warrior and if you aren't warrior enough to handle it, get the hell out of my way and go train something else.
Now that you've found your motivation and your "zone," you've got to apply it in the gym. My advice to you would be the train for the sake of training and concentrate on how hard you work. Remember, those who take pride in how they train rather than how they look will be more successful in the long run.
In the end, it all boils down to work ethic. Either you have it or you don't. If you don't have it as of yet, it's not too late to go out there and get it. Work ethic is like strength in the sense that it can be improved but there is a base in which you must start off from.
For some, this base may be better than for others just like strength base. Regardless of this, if you work at it, you too will be training in the "zone" and only then will you truly know what it's like to be in my world when I train. Train hard, train smart, think BIG!