WHAT IS INTENSITY?
Intensity applies to all areas of life, not just the gym. It’s all about applying a productive, efficient and hard working ethic to your job, nutrition, extra-curricular activities and anything life throws at you. To give you a science based definition, intensity can be defined as,
“A subjective measure of how hard physical activity feels to you while you’re doing it”Mayo Clinic, 2021
INTENSITY AND EXERCISE
With regards to exercise training, we think of intensity as the amount of effort we put into every rep we complete during a session. It doesn’t matter how many sessions, exercises, sets and reps, or how much rest you take, it’s the intensity and quality of the reps that count.
Even minus the sets and reps, in a sports setting it’s about how much effort you put into every throw, how well you commit yourself to each tackle and how fast you decide to run to return the ball, because ultimately, these factors are what help you to win the game.
“The ability to apply the discipline, the ability to do what needs to be done no matter how he feels inside, in my opinion, is the definition of a true professional’Mike Tyson
INTENSITY VS VOLUME
The intensity-volume phenomenon is huge in the fitness industry. Intensity and volume counteract one another because:
- If you train with a high volume, you can’t train with a high intensity
- If you train with a high intensity, you can’t train with a high volume
The negatives of excessive training volume is something we’ve learn’t the hard way. In our first years of training, we believed that a high volume (training for hours in the gym) would help us achieve our goals. In every session, we would do ten exercises, for six sets of twelve to fifthteen reps. This equates to 60 sets per workout, taking around 2-3 hours per session… Is this sustainable? NO
Even professional bodybuilders do a maximum of 30-40 sets per workout. This is because they understand that anymore than this and training becomes counterproductive and begins eating into your improvements (in this case muscle mass)
The end result is huge overtraining, almost always leading to burnout and in some cases injury (see our last blog post on recovering from injury). Not only this, but excess volume reduces training intensity, which hinders progress.
QUALITY OVER QUANTITY
It’s about the quality of what you do (how well you do it), rather than the quantity (how much you do it). If you’re constantly putting quantity over quality, you’ll lose any kind of work-life balance, you won’t enjoy it and you won’t sustain it for a lifetime.
Let’s use a typical work life as an example. If you do anything for too long, it becomes monotomous and boring.
You work hard and do a job you enjoy, but doing it for hours and hours, years and years, for any job, that enjoyment you once felt will dissipate and you’ll decide to eventually leave. We love personal training, but when we do hours of sessions a day, just like anything it gets boring and we don’t enjoy it.
This is the same with training, if you train for hours and hours every day, it’s going to become boring, eventually you’ll lose your motivation and you’ll stop. If you’re doing exercise for the right reasons, to be fit and healthy, it’s something that needs to be sustained for a lifetime.
WHY PEOPLE THINK THE MORE THE MERRIER?
It’s a massive shame, but the fitness industry floods us with marketing of ‘fitness fairytales’, which is a different topic in itself. Numerous pages on social media and fitness influencers promote that training for hours and hours every day is what leads to results. Ultimately – it’s all wrong, it’s a money making game because the more you train, the more you’re going to spend on shitty, unessential fitness products.
In client consultations, the first thing most people say is, “I’ve been training every day at the moment, I’m finally getting back into it!”, some people ask, “I’m exercising all the time but I’m not losing weight?”. No wonder they are ‘getting back into it’ and ‘aren’t losing weight’, they are overdoing everything right from the start, and it’s not sustainable!
5 TIPS TO TRAINING WITH INTENSITY AND QUALITY
- Focus on form, technique and control, don’t rush movements and keep the muscles under tension for a long period of time = TIME UNDER TENSION
- Once you’ve got the correct technique, lift a heavy weight for the given rep range, if you don’t challenge your limits, you aren’t going to see improvement
- Make sure you factor in recovery – don’t make our mistakes!
- Limit the exercises, sets and reps you do in the gym, but focus on getting the most out of every rep. Sometimes we don’t set ourselves a rep target, we just work until we struggle – this is how true intensity is reached
- Structure your training, get a set plan and routine in place – before you know it you’ll be heading towards your goals!
Less is more, don’t focus on how much you do, but how well you do it – you’ll see improvement in whatever you do.