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Intensity Intelligence

The challenges we face as our progression through this lifestyle continues, will not only test our physical fortitude and strength but also our ability to problem solve, re-calibrate and evaluate all that it is we are currently doing. Being able to troubleshoot on the fly and make the necessary adjustments quickly will prove to be the catalyst to your success or demise. Knowing that there really is only one limiting factor to your training (intensity), should have you considering all facets involved by taking an educated approach when applying it.

It’s easy to say that all you have to do is go all out every single time you train, but in reality, this isn’t the case and knowing when to punch the intensity gas pedal and when to pump the brakes will definitely keep you in this game for the long haul. Some considerations or factors you may want to keep in mind when utilizing intensity can be found below and as always, use your best judgement and your own intensity intelligence to secure both safety and progress within your training.

Intensity Boosting Techniques

There are many different types of training principles that you can apply to your training and some you probably enjoy using more than others. You can start by learning about all of the Weider Training Principles that many of us have used and loved over the years or you can try the approaches made popular by top pros and coaches within the sport and just see which ones you like and which ones don’t really suit your style.

The key to all of this, however, is knowing when to use these techniques and when to back off. If you’re feeling great and have lots of energy and want to crush everything in sight, then throw a couple or more of these principles in play. If you’re not feeling your best, have little energy or are experiencing some unwanted pain in your joints or muscles, then back off and stick to a more standard straight sets approach.

The reasoning behind these intensity boosting techniques is to make your training harder, more involved, more focused and to add a level of difficulty to your workouts that would require a significant amount of extra effort by you. It could mean you have to use more weight, more reps, more sets, more volume, more frequency or a combination of all those factors. Whatever the case may be, pay attention to the signals your body is giving you and then respond with the appropriate level of intensity.

Adrenal Fatigue

Whether you like it or not, you will only be able to go full tilt with your training for a certain amount of time before your body starts to rebel against all that you’re asking it to do and start fighting back by not responding in a positive way. Your lifts will start to level off, your motivation for training will begin to dwindle, you won’t be as excited to get to the gym, your sleep patterns will be off and an overall feeling of fatigue will linger.

When you get to this point, you can be sure that you are experiencing some level of adrenal fatigue and simply need a break. After asking your body to ramp up and work at maximal capacity day after day, what you are essentially doing is overtaxing your adrenal glands to the point where they’re basically tired and won’t or are hesitant to respond to stress the way they are designed to.

The consistent release of adrenaline and cortisol by these glands after repeated high levels of stress through hard training simply tire them out and you are left feeling less than ideal. So when this occurs, rather than pushing through and hoping it goes away, back off on the intensity, take some time off from the gym and give yourself a much-needed break. In the long run, taking time off will be more beneficial for your long-term goals versus simply pushing through this.


When you take an educated and intelligent approach to training, what you will discover over time is that by paying attention to what your body is telling you gives you an advantage of knowing when it’s time to change things up. However, if you’re always changing things up, you’ll never really know what’s working and what’s not which is why sticking with a program week after week until you start noticing that your body is adapting to that stress is incredibly important.

Once you get to this point, then you start applying different modes of intensity and imbed them within your workouts. If, for example, your arms aren’t responding after a few weeks of your program, you could incorporate some supersets or giant sets to maximize your pumps and give those muscles a fresh stimulus. Perhaps it’s time to increase the loads in your training so you switch to a progressive overload approach.

Maybe you need more volume to your training so you start experimenting with extending your sets by using drop sets or rest-pause sets. All that matters here is that you can clearly identify when you have adapted to the current form of the intensity you are using and then make a quick shift over to something new so that you can continue experiencing new gains in muscle and strength.

There really is so much to talk about and discuss when it comes to matters of intensity but the most important concept to keep in mind is the intelligent employment of your intensity to keep yourself both safe and continuously growing. You do this by learning, evaluating and re-calibrating your efforts when need be.

The best in the business always know exactly what they are doing, have everything planned out and leave nothing to chance; including the level of intensity in which they work in. Don’t be left behind because you failed to control this one very controllable variable. Be smart about what you’re doing and trying to accomplish and watch how quickly your aspirations become reality.

Author: Dana Bushell

Gym Star Team Member

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