It is my own feeling that in order to get big you have to train with intensity. There is just something about hitting the training as hard as you can that spurs on growth. Arnold Schwarzenegger once said “Work like hell!” He was talking about training intensity.
The Gym in Schwarzenegger's Day
Back in Arnold's day intensity was a necessity in order to build mass. It was a way of life for every bodybuilder trying to gain muscle mass. Intensity was pretty much the theme at Gold's Gym in that day. You could walk into the gym and observe workouts that had extreme intensity involved. The sheer brutality of those workouts is immortalized in the movie Pumping Iron What happened to this attitude?
The Gym of Today
When you walk into the gym today you hear a lot of people talk about intensity but not show it. They are intensely dressed, have intense haircuts, but just don't have any intensity in their training. At the same time they wonder why their physiques are not changing. They have no idea that they are not training intensely.
Joe Weider Was the Teacher
I already mentioned that Arnold Schwarzenegger was pretty much responsible for ushering intensity onto the bodybuilding scene but who taught him this concept? Joe Weider not only brought Arnold to the United States, he was the one who taught Arnold about bodybuilding principles. Using Joe's principles Arnold sowed that full blown training intensity would break the mold. Arnold would push himself beyond the pain barrier and sacrifice himself to get the intensity necessary to build his body.
Other Proponents of Intense Training
Arnold is not the only proponent of intense training. Mike Mentzer was a proponent of High Intensity Training, a principle brought to light by Arthur Jones, the inventor of the Nautilus line of equipment. Mentzer modified that principle slightly, but he trained with massive intensity all the time. Tom Platz and Dorian Yates also come to mind as proud warriors who pushed themselves beyond the pain barrier to achieve better physiques. This brings us to the modern day warriors.
Ronnie Coleman trained with massive intensity. Any search of YouTube for his training videos reveals this to you. Ronnie was once asked why it was so hard for others to gain the physique he seemed to attain with ease he responded “Nobody wants to lift no heavy-ass weights!” Ronnie Coleman achieved things not many could do. He was 5'11” and carried 275 lbs. of muscle. He had an extremely wide physique. Not many could come close to him which is why he won 8 Mr. Olympia contests.
How to Regain Intensity
I think we need to look back at the history of bodybuilding and realize that those who have been the most successful have always used immense intensity in their training. We should push ourselves to the limit. If there is a saying I would stick with it would be “Go beyond” meaning go past that pain and discomfort you feel. You will reap the benefits of this attitude many times over.