Intensity Vs. Volume!

If you've been on the boards lately, there's been a lot of talk about intensity, mostly High Intensity Training (HIT)... in the following I'm going to explain the importance of intensity and how it varies w. volume.

If you've been on the boards lately, there's been a lot of talk about intensity, mostly High Intensity Training (HIT) the following I'm going to explain the importance of intensity and how it varies with volume.

OK... first, volume is how many sets you do. That's quite simple but for you to understand the rest of this you should know the definition of volume.


Now... intensity a little bit harder to define. In bodybuilding terms it's how much effort you put into a set but it goes beyond that. It must also be a mental thing... when I'm in the gym I try to concentrate on the set I'm about to do and not to what is going on around me.

This is hard because at my gym there's always a group of middle aged guys there BS'ing about stupid sh!t that isn't remotely funny, enormous old ladies that are trying to get into shape (which is good for them) who for some reason always seem to pick the bench or machine I want to use next as a resting spot.

This can be turned into motivation though, I think to my self before I hit the set "I don't wanna end up with something like that, I don't wanna end up with something like that". The music they play is always crappy boy bands (it's a proven fact that it is nearly impossible to squat to 'NSync... but this too can be turned into motivation as I think with each rep I'm slowly killing one of them) but what I'm trying to get at is you have to block this out.

How Are They Related?

I guess I should explain how the two are related and how that applies to you. First off, being natural (roid free) you have about 45 to 60 min. in which to complete your work out before cortisol is released (cortisol breaks down muscle, bad stuff) and beyond that you will be on the verge of over training. So to get in a good workout that will stimulate your muscles to grow, you must finish your workout fast.

How can you have a short duration of a workout that also blasts your muscles?? Damn right, InTeNsItY! If you use high intensity, where each rep of your working set must be as hard as you can make it you will have great workouts... for example, if you're benching say you have 200 lbs. on the bar and you know you can get 8 reps, and you do, and the eighth was extremely hard, go for the 9th.

In this 9th rep you should push as hard as you can (make sure you have a spotter) for about 15-20 seconds. This takes concentration and this is where the mental intensity comes in. After that set I can almost guarantee you wont be able to lift that weight for 8 reps again in 2-3 minutes. Move on to a new exercise.

All Muscles

This should be applied to all muscles. Also, you should do all your reps in good form, and slowly. I'm not saying 15 seconds up and 15 down, but make sure you're not jerking the weight and letting it slam or leaning back in curls (yeah, you've heard this before).

This is the best way to put the most tension on the desired muscle you are trying to work, without using other muscles that will take away from the work being placed on the desired muscle group.

As far as sets are concerned, you should do about 2-3 for big muscle groups (chest, back and legs for those who haven't a clue) and 1 set for smaller muscles (the rest) depending on how you are splitting it up.

The amount of reps you do is entirely up to you, though I would recommend cycling your reps, for example, if you have been training with between 8-12 reps for the past month or longer, I would switch to heavier less reps, like 5-8 reps, or vice versa as it will shock your body and stimulate new growth. However, I'd recommend using lower reps for chest, shoulders, tri's, moderate for back and bi's, and higher reps for legs.

Sample Workout Programs

OK, so for all you lazy, spoiled, impatient people who decided not to take the time to read the top part (yeah, I know its not all that exciting, but it is very informative) I will apply all the info I just listed above into a couple sample workout programs. Before I do that I should tell you how to warm up.

Push-Pull Legs split

Since you will be doing the larger muscle first (chest, back, thighs) there is no need to warm up the smaller ones because they will be used in the exercises for the larger muscles (wow that was a mouth full). So do at least 2-3 warm up sets for chest and you are all set (the same applies to back and legs)

This is the one I do and it takes me about 30 minutes per workout excluding warm up sets and abs.

Monday: Push

  • Bench Press: 1 x 8 reps
  • Incline Bench Press: 1 x 8 reps
  • Flyes: 1 x 12 reps
  • Dumbbell Shoulder Press: 1 x 8 reps
  • Skull-crushers: 1 x 10 reps
  • Abs

Wednesday: Legs

  • Squats: 1 x 16 reps
  • Leg Extensions: 1 x 16 reps
  • Leg Curls: 1 x 16 reps
  • Calf Raises: 1 x 12 reps
  • Abs

Friday: Pull

  • Cable Rows: 1 x 8 reps
  • Underhand-Grip Pull-downs: 1 x 8 reps
  • 30 second Pull-up (see below): 1 x 1 rep*
  • Preacher Curls: 1 x 10 reps
  • Abs

Note: This will totally destroy your lats, it's pretty easy to explain. It's a pull up where you take 30 seconds to go up and 30 seconds to go down (obviously its done really slowly).

When I do it I'll be about 4 inches from the top slowly pulling and my whole body will be shaking.

Be warned though, it will be very hard to perform the bicep exercise after this one. You may have to lower your weight. There you have it, 1.5 hours a week to great results. I highly recommend giving yourself a day of rest between each work out though.

Upper-Body/Lower-Body split

Warm up chest and back like you would for the top two before starting any working sets. Legs will be the same as well.

This too is a great system, especially for those who play sports and only have a few days to go to the gym.

Tuesday: Upper-Body

  • Bench Press: 1 x 8 reps
  • Incline Press: 1 x 8 reps
  • Dumbbell Rows: 1 x 10 reps
  • 30 second Pull-up: 1 x 10 rep
  • Shoulder Press: 1 x 8 reps
  • Triceps Push-downs: 1 x 8 reps
  • Dumbbell Curls:1 x 10 reps
  • Abs

Friday: Lower

See above leg workout.

Full-Body Split

As with before, warm up your three big muscles before hopping into any working sets (so before squatting do warm up sets for chest and back as well as legs). Rocket science, ehh? With all the above make sure you stretch well, at least for 15 seconds between sets.

This is a little bit tougher and requires more time in the gym and more concentration...if you feel you recover fast then it will work well for you

Monday: Full-Body

  • Squat: 1 x 16 reps
  • Stiff-legged Deadlift: 1 x 16 reps
  • Bench Press: 1 x 8 reps
  • Incline Dumbbells: 1 x 8 reps
  • T-Bar Rows: 1 x 10 reps
  • 30 second Pull-up: 1 x 1 rep
  • Shoulder Press: 1 x 8 reps (Depending on how you are feeling and how much time you have taken the arm work is up to you)
  • Abs

Thursday: Full-Body

  • Leg press: 1 x 16 reps
  • Hack squat: 1 x 16 reps
  • Dumbbell Bench Press: 1 x 8 reps
  • Decline Press: 1 x 8 reps
  • Dumbbell Rows: 1 x 10 reps
  • Cable rows: 1 x 10 reps
  • Dumbbell Shoulder Press: 1 x 8 reps (Yeah, you guessed it, same as above w. the direct arm work)
  • Abs


When done with full concentration and high intensity all the above workouts are extremely effective and will give you great gains. Makes sense right, you only grow when you are resting? Also, I think because you spend so much time away from the gym, you will feel much more psyched up before workouts. If you want, you could even cycle the workouts, doing a different split every month.

If your interested in what to eat, see the diet section of my previous article... the same with supplementation. Though an ECA stack taken 1/2 hour before working out (never take it more than 3x per week and never two days in a row for it is very easy for the body to adapt to) will help with concentration and energy. Personally, I like Twinlab Ripped Fuel Ephedra Free or Cytodyne Xenadrine NRG but the choice is yours.