If you've been reading my stuff much, you know by now that I do alot of thinking about stuff. Some people say I think too much, but that's just how I am. I've always been a thinker. I guess that's why my other favorite pastime (besides exercising) is chess.
I was sitting on Sunday thinking about the word “intensity” and what it meant in relation to weightlifting. I started to think alot about how long a workout should take, etc. I read alot of advice that you should be done with the gym within 60 minutes. One thing in particular has stuck in my head. I was reading an eBook written by Jeff Anderson and he states:
“When you’re at the gym, keep a close eye on your watch. As soon as you’ve reached 60 minutes of exercise in your workout…
You need to LEAVE!
I don’t care if you only have 1 or 2 sets left to complete your workout…get the HELL out of the weight room! Those last few sets will actually do more to EAT UP the progress you just made during that first hour than it will to STIMULATE new muscle growth”
As I thought it through, intensity doesn't mean spending hours in the gym lifting. Instead, intensity means pushing your muscles to the point they can't lift another rep. It means choosing a weight that allows you to reach your target reps while still maintaining strict form and full range of motion on every exercise.
When you workout with intensity you get good results. When you give up at the end you do not get good results. I once heard a trainer tell a client that when they give up in the last 1 to 2 reps of an exercise they are not getting the maximum benefit from the exercise. Failing to get maximum benefit means they might as well not workout at all. Intensity is right up there with this idea. If we don't workout with intensity, why bother?
We've all most likely experienced lack of intensity in a workout. You hit the gym and you lift but with a lackluster energy level. You lift weights that you can do easily and only aim for the target reps and nothing more. You don't push yourself. How do you generally feel after such a workout? Most likely not that great. Fast forward to a high intensity workout. You sweat. Your heart races. You barely get the last rep in. You constantly strive to do better than the last time. You push yourself on every set. In the end you feel awesome about your workout. You feel like you did something incredible and it sticks with you for hours.
If reading this does nothing else for you, I hope that when you hit the gym the next time the word intensity is on your mind like it is on mine now.