hiit-training-hiit-interval-workout-500x331Today’s article is going to be about intensity at the gym and not training hard enough. I’ve had a few messages about this in the past, and it wasn’t until I had a half-assed workout at the gym last night that I rethought about this topic.

Despite having pre-workout surging through my body I had a crappy workout. I didn’t hit any of my reps that I did last week, and the feeling of demotivation (if that’s a word) started to snowball from exercise to exercise, which in the end left me with nothing but wasted effort.

I went through my exercise log and was definitely not feeling the intensity of the workout at all, it was just one of those days. One of those days that everyone has once in a while, and as I looked around the gym, I saw that a few people were also training with the same intensity that I was. Which was almost nothing. Probably because it was late and they would have rather done something else. It was about 11 pm when I went to the gym (I usually train late) and that was after having a huge dinner and becoming so tired from it. But I decided that skipping leg day was not an option. But in this case, I would have been better off skipping the session and going with it the day after. The number one reason being: Intensity.

But how do you track intensity, how do you know you’re working out hard enough?

Everybody’s body reacts in different ways. The only true way of telling if you’re working out hard enough in the gym is to gauge your results. Are you getting the results that you desire when you look in the mirror? If you’re a newbie going to the gym to put on muscle, are you getting stronger after the first month? A few simple tips for increasing the intensity of your muscle building workouts is:

1) Doing more sets in the workout

If you’ve just finished a workout but you don’t feel like you’ve done enough, add a few more sets to the workout. I’ve noticed a lot of guys that do the bear minimum when it comes to exercises, and my tip for total sets in a workout is: 15-17 sets for large muscle groups and 7-10 total sets for small muscle groups. Be careful not to overdo the number of sets though, as you will be taxing your recovery period.

2) Shorten rest periods

This is by far the easiest way to increase the intensity of your workouts. Instead of pushing for 10 reps with 2 minute intervals in between, try to do the same number of reps with 1 minute intervals. Challenge your body.

3) Change up the rep scheme

If you’re used to pushing 8-12 reps each exercise and  every workout, try pushing changing it up. Maybe work on the 3-5 rep range, or the 15-20 rep range. Keeping your body adapting to different rep schemes will ensure proper intensity during workouts.

To increase the intensity of your cardio sessions you can: 

1) Change up the treadmill game

If you’ve been walking on the treadmill every single gym session, it’s time to up the intensity and watch that fat melt right off. Instead of walking, do a slight jog, if you’ve been jogging on a flat treadmill, add an incline and push it. You could also try short bursts of sprinting, followed by slow walking, repeat for 15-30 minutes you’ll definitely feel it the next day.

2) Add resistance on the bike

If you’re on of those people who peddle at a walking pace on the stationary bikes, it’s time to change it up. Add some resistance, or once again perform 30 seconds of fast paced peddling, followed by 30 seconds of moderate to slow paced peddling.

3) Try something new

Cardio doesn’t have to be strictly treadmills or biking. Grab a skip rope and give that try, or go to a gym that has a punching bag and give it a go. There are tons of ways to shed that weight while having fun and keeping your intensity high.

Now I know a lot of newbies are in the gym because of the new year, and many of them just don’t have the motivation to train. They know they should be at the gym doing some sort of physical activity, and when they get there, they hop on the bike and start peddling away, while on their cellphone talking to someone or browsing Facebook. But that’s okay. Some activity is better than none right?

Well that’s not always right.

In my opinion, half assing your workout is pretty much almost the same as not going to the gym at all. If you come into the gym with the intention to slim down and lose that weight, but after that long hour of being on the bike, you still look as pretty as you did when you came in (I’m talking about guys and girls) you’re likely going to make no progress. Same thing with trying to build muscle: if you haven’t broken a sweat, or you don’t push through that last hard rep, you likely will not see changes.

When it comes to training and reaching your fitness goals, intensity is the key. Your body will not change, unless you give it reason to. You have to step out of that comfort zone, because that is what will force the body to make those changes. Thanks for reading, and as always, see you in the next article.

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John considers himself as a fitness enthusiast who loves to do anything to keep the body in peak physical performance (much like a highly tuned machine). He mainly focuses on sports nutrition and supplement research, but is also highly knowledgeable in relation to muscle growth and fat loss. He's helped numerous people over the years achieve the body that they've always wanted and hopes his information will guide you to the goals you want.

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