If you aren’t continuously making progress in the gym, you aren’t building muscle. You should be constantly challenging yourself to be stronger than the last time you worked out. Workout intensity plays a vital role in building muscle.
In order to stimulate muscle growth, you need to give your muscles a reason to break itself down, and then build itself back up to be stronger than the last time. So how do we go about doing that? Here are 4 different ways you can increase your workout intensity.
Increase Your Working Load
This basically means to increase the amount of weight you are using. If you’re at the gym using the same weight every time you work out, why would your muscles have any reason to get stronger? Try increasing the weight you use each time you do the same exercise. If the weight isn’t increasing over a period of time, you need to reassess your workout program. If you’re doing 100 pounds for 3 sets of 10, next time try for 105 for 3 sets of 10. You might not get all 10 reps, but get as many as you can. The change in load is enough to stimulate muscle growth.
Increase Your Reps
What if you are unable to increase the weight on that particular exercise? Maybe that extra weight is just too much too soon. Another way to increase the intensity is to increase your reps. If you are using 100 pounds for 3 sets of 10 reps, and you are unable to use 105 pounds, this time try for 3 sets of 12 reps. Just doing those two extra reps stimulates your muscles and tells them that they need to get stronger for next time.
Decrease the Amount of Time You Rest Between Sets
So you’ve tried increasing the weight and the reps, but you unfortunately were unable to increase them. Don’t worry, it happens. You’re not always able to increase these two things each and every workout. You should try, but it’s not always going to happen. If that’s the case, another way to increase intensity is to decrease the amount of time you rest between sets.
For example, let’s say you’re doing 100 pounds for 3 sets of 10 reps, and you take 2 minutes between sets. You’ve tried for 105 pounds and you’re trying for that 11th rep with no success. This time, try cutting down your 2 minute rest time to 1.5 minutes. Taking time away from your rest periods turns your workouts into HIIT training (High Intensity Interval Training). This is my preferred method of training. The reduced time raises your heart rate and pushes you to work harder.
Do Heart Rate Training
Similar to decreasing the amount of time you rest between sets, you can also determine your rest times based on your heart rate. If you want to work on improving your anaerobic capacity, you can do an exercise for a predetermined amount of reps and then track your heart rate during your rest periods. To do this you need a heart rate monitor. When your heart rate reaches say 160 beats per minute, you start your next set. Your next workout you raise that rest number to 165 beats per minute. Doing this is a great way to push your physical limitations and turn your strength training workout into a cardio/strength hybrid.
If you aren’t progressing in the gym, your body won’t be moving forward. Stalled progress can be a strong morale killer. When you see yourself getting stronger or looking better, you are more inclined to stick to your fitness program. Don’t let your progress come to a halt. Get out in front of it and put a plan in place that will always keep you moving forward.