Weight Training Intensity

What is weight training intensity? Often these lines can become blurred, even somewhat crossed when it comes to the word intensity! But… What does it really mean, to-be-intense?

You can increase so-called intensity performing more volume training, or perhaps stacking on a few extra pounds from that of what you did yesterday or...

Often athletes perform intense effort or feats in their given sport which in themselves is impressive. But weight training intensity specifically as it relates to the gym, is all on its own from other intensities. A sweaty brow or T-shirt does not distinguish intensity.

Bar nothing in the weight room, the number one thing that defines intensity is the amount of weight you lift! All out effort with low reps if your training within the 90% of  Max-Poundage, is generally putting you in the intense bracket.

Relating To Intensity

Not everyone is capable of performing regular lifting patterns like the magazine athletes or even close to, so where does this leave your intensity and finding its level?

Strength training: finding your (one rep Max) and working as close to it as often as you can, performing the big boy exercises such as: the squat, the bench, power cleans, bent rows and the dead lift to mention a few.

All out weight training intensity, is not found in volume training, the gym and the equipment in it, is unique. Surprisingly, a lot of people think they’re intensity is right up there when they’re using machines. But...

Nothing beats the barbell or its cousin, the dumbbell, opinions and arguments are always prevalent on this subject. Time and time again, strength and personal trainers, even some coaches all have varying opinions on the subject. 

Increasing weight training intensity is accomplished by the increase of resistance in exercise movements.

Greater intensity and strength is often reached in compound movements over those of isolation, meaning: assisting muscles and their lifting patterns are unified, putting the body at a stronger mechanical advantage to increase intensity...

E.g., the squat exercise: the shoulders, back, glutes including the big muscles of the quads, all have to pull, push/contract and assist in these exercises.

The exercises you choose has a lot to do with how much intensity you can bring to bear.

Tip: work-up to this intensity level slowly, make sure you’re well warmed up as you begin, giving your body time to become conditioned.

 Increasing Weight Training Intensity?

Add intensity

Weight training Intensity in the gym is relative to the stress on the body’s central nervous system, heavier poundage's with different exercise stimulation, sends new signals to the muscle groups affected in the form of stress. 

Intensity is more of a state of mind, that is accompanied by the exertion of greater force.

Entering the gym with a positive attitude, by believing in yourself and your strength each workout, make an effort to break through the barriers and plateaus that weight training intensity creates 'is intensity'.

Don't focus on how the weight feels, instead; focus on crushing it for 3 to 5 reps, slowly working down to two or three by the end each series of exercise sets for each muscle group.

Increasing intensity can be accomplished with different exercises in different ways, so lets look at some:

Focus on the goal and use compound exercises like

  • The squat: e.g., if you warm up with 130 pounds - start your warm up with 150, each successive set, increase by 20- 30 pounds put the determination of your goal into each lift.
The Squat exercise

  • Barbell power clean and press:  again raise your warm-up poundage a little in the beginning. Each set progressively add enough weight to keep you in the 4 to 6 rep range, no higher. On days you feel stronger add enough weight to get between two and four reps, increased resistance builds intensity.
Clean and press

  • The barbell dead lift: this is another great power and strength-based movement, up your warm-up weight, this exercise is the ultimate in free weight compound movements to build intensity. add enough weight and motivation to get 4 to 6 reps. Your final set grind out 2 to 4 reps to increase intensity levels.
Intensity The dead lift

  • Barbell bent-over row: this exercise is about building overall strength in the upper body, if you add enough intensity! Add resistance to your warm-up weight, performing 4 to 5 total sets increasing the weight on each set. Pull the bar to the upper stomach like you mean it... Because your goal is on the line.
Bent Barbell rows

Mental determination, will-power and exertion initiated to the connection of your goal, is a determining factor in generating intensity.

From Mental Intensity To The Physical


Not everyone is capable of being intense physically, as intensity applies to the weight gym.

Weight training intensity comes from different factors, some people are just naturally more intense, this of course helps. The more experience and lifting knowledge you have also helps, the amount of determination set in motion towards the Goal you set for yourself, helps more again. 

Often confident seasoned weightlifters are able to summon enough motivation (even after a long day of work):

are still able to find enough explosive fuel to push themselves past the norm. Intensity is simple, not complicated it's... Stepping out of your comfort zone... while others don't!

So what is it that stops most from achieving this... 

It's Fear;  and the lack of understanding of how to deal with it.

Fear manifests itself in many ways; some fear change or failure or the unknown, while others fear or become over whelmed at the thought of commitment it takes to achieve a higher level.

Fear can feel like a dark room, where negative thoughts, worry or anxieties are developed, meet your fears head on.

Increase your weight training intensity in the gym by replacing your fear with respect: on nights your feeling strong, push a little beyond the level you fear. 

Make a plan that is realistic and achievable towards a goal that you can reach this builds new confidence, by reducing the fear of failure. Don’t let fear steal your desire to be better!

Visualizing Intensity?

Visualizing intensity

Intensity on all levels in weight training lies with: mentally visualizing your goal and staying focused on it.

The desire to improve and summon your intensity is surprisingly, often made outside the gym.

How we visualize Intensity:

Is limitless, your only limited by imagination to perform and find this level in yourself.

  • Some athletes will visualize the work-out they want to have or create, the night before.
  • Others may visualize the poundage or resistance they will be using before getting to the gym that day while at work, school or throughout daily activities.
  • Again, some simply make a long-term goal and can stay focused and intense enough over the long haul of training and still achieve it.
  • Some may visualize adding volume, with shorter rests and a constant change in exercise momentum.
  • While others may strive towards feeling the contraction or holding it longer pushing beyond the intense burn of the muscle pump to achieve more intensity.

Weight training intensity and different training methods to achieve your goal means: experiment, add variety, push your intensity level towards what you want see as a result from your training the most!

How to Use Different Intensity Ranges

Different intensity ranges

Here are 10 different ways to increase your weight training intensity, hypertrophy and strength:

  • If you’re  currently performing 8 to 10 reps in your big lifts. try increasing resistance and drop to 4 -6 reps, get closer to your (1RM).
  • Try Dumbbells instead of Barbells or vice versa, keep your form tight and focus on the each rep.

  • Increase poundage or resistance from 5 to 15% in the lifts you feel weakest in.
  • Have a training partner help with a few forced reps or negatives.
  • Try Drop sets, doing double or triple drops below the original set, by reducing the weight on each drop.
  • Descending sets starting with 90 to 95% of your (1RM) striping resistance slightly on each set, keep rest time slightly shorter between each set.
  • Use pyramid lifting in the squat, dead lift, bent rows, bench press, etc., add resistance to each set with adequate rest between.
  • Try super sets with different exercises, especially, for weaker muscle groups.      
  • Experiment with the pre-exhaust method, e.g., perform a set of leg extensions, followed by a set of barbell squats.

The Reason We Increase Intensity

Intensity push your limits

The reasons for increasing intensity are almost as infinite as the different types of intensity that you can add to your training routine.

One of the main reasons are: continuation towards self-improvement and trying to break through training plateaus.

After the first 8 to 10 months of training:

everything from this point on comes a little harder. This does not mean to say that gains in strength, size, and physique quality are over, your body will go through phases or cycles like all things in life do.

Taking your weight training intensity to a higher level can and will help you break through a (sticky) training plateau.

To be human, is to love progress... Progress fuels our passion and motivation, ultimately inspiring each of us to become better

To visually see progress unfolding in your physique development becomes a new discovery in yourself. This can help recapture lost motivation, if you’re experiencing this, it also relieves boredom and helps eliminate stale workouts.

Increasing training intensity also brings about a greater sense of mental and physical maturity of how your body works, including the new limits of what it can take and accepting the limits of what it can't.


Increasing intensity

Ultimately, you need to have some intensity in your workouts, or results simply won't show themselves: don't be afraid to work for the things you want, I often see guys pondering the question; what can weight training give me?

I’m not trying to say this question isn’t fair, but in reality, if you want big things - big effort has to be made.

At the end of the day a better question might be... What are you prepared to give to your training intensity? In order to see the things you want in the mirror.

I extend my support with this article, for every aspiring bodybuilder and weightlifter, I also include all athletes, ages and genders, to find and enjoy the many things you'll learn about yourself along the way.

Don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone and train like hell, to go after the things that inspire and motivate you the most. Take the time to enjoy needed rest in life, as much as your weight training intensity.


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