Intensity in training seems to be taken for granted in too many training programs. Many bodybuilders are falling into the trap and thinking that having an intense workout is not necessary to make progress in the gym. However, they are wrong!
Intensity and a strong drive to train is what really separate the champion bodybuilders from the un-successful bodybuilders - not drugs, not supplements, and not sponsorship!
Bodybuilding really is a drive to be the best that you can be. Putting maximum effort into each set while you are training is a simple way to do this. When you know that you put your best effort forward each and every workout consistently and honestly, there is no doubt that you are being the best you can be!
Intensity in a workout has more benefits than just the moral side. When you are intense for a workout, that means you are focused, it means you are using your best weights, and completing every last rep that you can!
Training like this means that every week you are blasting out a few more reps or throwing around a weight that is a bit heavier, each time you hit the gym - there's no way around it! Training with intensity is the best way to grow and get stronger.
In this article, I will discuss ten tips that will improve your intensity and allow you to make each workout count! There are many ways to improve intensity, increase focus, improve your mood for training, and also enjoy yourself while doing it!
1. Know Your Goals For Today!
All successful bodybuilding routines focus around strength progress in one way or another. Even the guys who just work out for kicks just have an instinct that using more weight than last time is what you want!
A good bodybuilding routine should focus on stimulating the muscles, but if your nutrition is perfect and your training allows it, the weights you use last week become easy. Therefore, it is a good idea to focus on adding weight, but remember to not just be in the gym "chasing numbers." Keep your form solid!
This leads me to my first tip for getting mentally prepared for a workout. This, in my opinion, is the best way to get focus for each set. Before you leave for the gym, just write down what weights you would like to lift on a few key exercises in your workout. That way, once you get in there, there is no turning back, you have to go all-out.
Goal-setting for workouts is considered very short-term goal setting, and guessing your potential for the upcoming workout can be difficult. The key is to always make your goal at least one rep higher than your best performance last week, or add 5 pounds. For some exercises, I could routinely add 10 or 20 pounds each week without fail.
I found others a bit trickier - I struggled just for that extra rep over last week. Setting goals always helped me to have a great workout, though, and is the number 1 intensity increasing trick in my opinion.
2. Warm Up Time. Dial In!
I realized that another way to become focused for a big workout is to use your warm-up time to get mentally ready. On those days where you spent all day thinking of other things besides working out, it can help to change your mindset from goofing off at work, to getting ready to push your limits in the gym.
My warm-up usually lasts about 5 minutes to 8 minutes, depending on how I feel. I try to keep it pretty easy, and just try to get a light pump to start off the workout.
I can tell myself "the first working set is in 6 minutes! There's no turning back now." This really helps me on a day where I am going for a big personal best, and I need to get my nerve up.
It is especially useful on a day where I am going for a personal best in a heavy movement like bench presses, squats, or deadlifts. This subtle trick can really make a difference!
3. Getting In The Mood For Intensifying Training!
Let's talk about getting psyched up! The best way hands down to get ready to push your body to its limits is getting in the right mood.
That's why, if you look at any top powerlifter, you will see them stomping around, pounding on their chest, and body-slamming other lifters at the meet to get the adrenaline flowing. Then they complete a lift and hop right up enthusiastically, cheering for themselves. It might seem a little silly to some, but this technique really works when going for a big lift.
When you think about it, though, getting all psyched up for every single workout can be very taxing. This technique works best for performing a set of one or two reps. This example really shows you how getting in the right mood can benefit your training, though.
For regular training, you should have a feeling of confidence, and a strong will to complete your sets.
4. Supplementing Your Focus!
There are some periods of time where we just have trouble getting focused for every workout, no matter how hard we try. This can be caused by any combination of environmental factors.
If this is the case, I highly recommend one of the following supplements!
SciViation NeuroStim is an extremely potent supplement when it comes to improving focus. This supplement combines Choline, ALCAR, and Tyrosine; three items that work together to give a big boost in focus.
The supplement also includes BrainDrive, a blend of Huperzine A, Vinpotecine, and DMAE, all of which are big names when it comes to supplements which maximize alertness.
With this supplement, you get a subtle boost in focus that, for me, gradually sets in and then steadily boosts my focus through the workout - just what you need.
ErgoPharm AMP is another powerful energy supplement. This supplement is different from Neurostim in that it contains stimulants. AMP contains Geranamine. This adrenaline-like substance is found in ErgoPharm's AMP exclusively.
5. Change Things Up!
The key to sticking with a workout routine for most people isn't the odd satisfaction that some of us get from the burn that takes place in a long set of squats or deadlifts, or the feeling of a massive weight in our hands weighing us down. For most people the satisfaction comes from enjoying the workout to some degree.
You must train hard, of course, and give it your all, but there is always some room for slight changes.
For example, if you did flat dumbbell flyes last week on chest day, but feel like using the pec-dec or doing incline flyes, then go right ahead! Just be sure to keep the basic ideas of the routine similar.
6. Put The Most Important Things First!
If you know that your focus is going to be poor in the upcoming workout no matter what, or you just want to be able to put maximum intensity into one certain thing, I suggest doing that exercise or muscle group first in the workout.
For example, if you want to be able to put a lot of focus into your bench press, don't wait until you have finished incline dumbbell presses and flyes, instead just start right on the bench press.
This way you have all of your energy for that first exercise, to maximize performance.
7. Have A Reason To Train & A Reason To Train Harder!
Sometimes when we start to slack in the gym, the best thing to do is think of exactly why we are in there lifting weights, or doing cardio. One example of this comes from my personal experience.
Last year, I was in the middle of a deadlift workout, and I was beginning to feel discouraged. I had a reason to train - because it was just part of my normal daily routine anyway - but I did not think of a reason to train harder.
So just as I was about to put the weights away on deadlifts, some friends from the school football team came in.
My mindset completely turned around for the better right then. I put the weights back and pounded out all 4 sets, like I had planned. All I needed was a reason to train harder.
8. Make A Workout Shake!
This one might seem simple, but it always gives me a little mental boost when I know that I have just put together a workout shake to sip while I do my workout.
I think to myself,
This forces me to work hard and get a good pump in the muscles, so that all of the carbohydrates and amino acids that my shake is loaded with will be used right away to build new muscle tissue.
9. Look At Other Lifters!
Most of the time, if you are having an off day in the gym, you are the only one who is. You can take other lifters in there who are training to the fullest as motivation that there is no reason to be slacking!
Look all around you - you don't want to be the slacker in the gym, so get back to work on your sets!
10. Get A Training Partner!
A training partner is an awesome way to increase intensity. Knowing that your training partneris training hard sets an example for you, just like the other lifters in the previous section do.
When you are alternating a machine with another person, you know that you have to complete your sets in between theirs, and there is no time for stalling - if you make the rest period too long, your training partner's workout will be thrown off as well.
Although it is hard to find a training partner whose strength is close to yours sometimes, if you can manage to, it will greatly improve your intensity because you can compete with that person. I usually train alone, but when I see some people from school who are serious about lifting like I am, I will start working out with them.
We make a competition out of it - who can do the most dips with a 45-pound plate strapped on? Who can leg press 500 pounds the most times? It makes lifting a lot of fun.
So there are your ten tips for improving intensity and mental focus. Using these methods is a great way to make each workout count, and make you the biggest and best bodybuilder that you can be.
Working out to the fullest allows you to realize your full potential in the gym, something that is not done by every bodybuilder.
While it is nice to be satisfied that you worked your hardest, the results from training as best you can are even more satisfying. Training with true intensity is the best way to increase strength and size, because you are getting more out of yourself than you would if you did not train with real intensity.
When you put your all into each set, you are being what every bodybuilder wants to be - the best that they can be. If you are really putting your all into each set and each exercise, you will never have a workout that is sub-par.
When all of your workouts are top-notch like this, you have mastered another part of the bodybuilding lifestyle, and therefore you will speed up results even further!
If you look at any bodybuilder or athlete, the reason that they are at the top of the food chain is that they want to do their best all the time. This doesn't have to mean training to muscular failure each set, or training until you puke - training intensely just means getting the most out of yourself within your training protocol.
While intense workouts may be extremely taxing, there is no way around it; you must have an undefeatable mindset in your workouts if you want to maximize results.