To see the best results from your time in the gym, you need to increase the intensity of your workouts, not the length of them. When most people think of increasing intensity, they just think of increasing the weight and lowering their reps. Well, unless your goal is to be a strength god and bench press more than your high school peers, just increasing the weight is not going to optimize your results.
Results in the gym are based upon one thing. The amount of stress you are putting on the muscle group you are working out. The more stress on the muscle, the more damage you will cause to the muscle cells. This damage is what causes your body to repair and grow the muscle, so the next time you perform the lift, your body will be better suited to handle the stress.
So what will optimize your results?
There are several intensity boosters that you can perform in the gym to push your muscles past failure and achieve the highest amount of muscular stress. You can find these methods all over the web, but this article is going to exceed the limits of those before it and give you more options than ever to boost your workout intensity. Let’s get started.
1. Drop Sets
Drop sets are the most popular form of intensity booster out there and you are probably already doing it without knowing. Drop sets work by performing a set at your usual weight for 10 reps, then immediately after dropping the weight by 10 pounds and performing another set of 10. Then drop the weight another 10 pounds and perform another set of 10. You can drop the weight 4 or 5 times before reaching complete muscle failure on your last set.
2. Super Sets
Super sets are also a very popular way to boost the intensity of your workout. Super sets are when you perform a movement and then immediately start on another movement right after, with no rest. Super sets are usually done with alternating body parts, but you can work the same body part for more intensity.
An example of a super set would be performing incline chest flies for 10 reps and then immediately switching to dumbbell curls for 10 reps right after. Then resting 30-60 seconds before performing the 2 movements again.
3. Pause Rest
Pause rest is an awesome intensity booster that you can use for any movement to push your muscles past failure. Pause rest is executed by performing a set until failure, putting the weight down for 5-10 seconds, and then performing more reps until you fail again.
This short period of rest will give your muscle time to partially recover, but not fully, making it a great way to push your muscles past failure and get more results out of your gym time.
Pre-exhaustion is a intensity boosting strategy that is not used by most people but is very effective. The concept of pre-exhaustion is that you complete your isolation movements for a body part before you start your heavy compound movements.
This means you will not be able to lift as much weight for your heavy compound movements, but when it comes to building muscle (and not strength) then intensity is the only thing that really matters. When you complete isolation movements first, you pre-exhaust your muscles, which means they are already partially destroyed before you get to your compound movements. When you perform your compound movements, they will be harder, and in turn you will put more stress on that muscle group.
5. Isometric contractions
Isometric contractions are when you take a weight and hold it in place for a set period of time, constantly contracting the muscle. A prime example of an isometric exercise is a plank. You hold the plank for 1-2 minutes, constantly flexing your core.
If you want to use isometric contractions as a workout intensity booster, then you should perform an isometric exercise immediately after a set of the same muscle.
An example of this would be performing a set of 10 dumbbell curls and then immediately after taking a 30 pound dumbbell and hold it with both hands in a mid-curl position. Hold the dumbbell for as long as you can. Performing isometric contractions after your sets is a great way to push your muscles past failure and increase your results from your gym sessions.
6. Negative Reps
Another great way to boost workout intensity if performing negative reps. You might be doing this without even knowing.
When we usually lift weights, we only focus on the contraction part of the movement. Such as the upward movement of curls or the downward movement of tricep cable push-downs.
When you perform negative reps, you perform the contraction movement as you would normally until failure, and then you have a spotter help you bring the weight to the top of the movement, and then you slowly let the weight down.
Negative reps work because your muscle tires faster on the contraction side, but the de-contraction, or negative side of the rep, needs more attention for it to fail as well. Putting more stress on the negative side of the rep, will cause more damage to your muscle tissues, forcing your muscle to grow more and more.
7. Forced Reps/Cheat reps
Forced reps are the only exception to bad form in the gym. 95% of the time, you want to control the weight up and down, not using your momentum to move the weight. However, if you want to push your muscles past failure, you can use momentum at the end of the set to perform “cheat reps”.
Cheat reps should only be used after you can no longer lift the weight in a controlled fashion. If you do not have a spotter, you can use your momentum to perform a few extra reps. Performing these last few reps will cause greater stress to your muscle tissue and force your muscles to grow even larger.
8. Listen to EDM while you workout
Since the beginning of BassFit.com, we have been preaching the same message: Listening to EDM while you work out will boost the intensity of your workouts, making you lift longer, harder, and stronger.
This is not just our opinion. IT IS SCIENCE. It has been scientifically proven that listening to high BPM music will send signals to your brain that will cause you to be less fatigued. In other words, EDM distracts your body from becoming tired and weak.
If you want to have the absolute, most intense workout possible, you need to listen to EDM during that workout. Here at BassFit.com, we have tons of playlist and mixes for you to listen to so you can boost your workout intensity.
And they’re all not hardcore dubstep playlists. We know everybody has different preferences when it comes to types of music, so we have a playlist for every sub-genre of EDM.
From Bass House to Techno, BassFit.com has it all! Below are a few of our most popular playlists to get you started.