Your body is pretty lazy, and if you stop challenging it in the gym you’ll just not make progress. But find a way to increase the intensity of your weight training workout and it’ll grant you those beautiful gains you’re after, time and time again.
The first few months of training went well.
You lifted regularly and put pretty much everything into your workouts. You packed on some muscle and your strength increased. The taste for lifting hit your hard and chances are you’ve got the odd bodybuilding magazine or 10 stacked neatly under your bed.
After a while, the progress started to drop off. You stopped gaining muscle mass and your strength plateaued.
Now you’re stuck and don;t know what to do next.
But that’s where we come in. And now we need you to take the intensity of your weight training workouts up.
And this is how.
How To Increase Weight Training Intensity and Get a Better Workout
It’s easy to get stuck with the same old workout over and over.
You’ve stopped improving and you’re getting frustrated.
You’re low on motivation and you’re beginning to wonder whether the iron game is really for you.
What you need right now is to make your weight training workouts more intense.
In the context of the gain game, the word ‘intensity‘ means different thing to different people.
To some it simply means making your workout harder. Whereas to purists, intensity means specifically increasing the total work or power you achieve during a lift.
But let’s be real bros, you’re here because you want to pack more slabs of muscle to your frame – that’s all.
And there’s more than one way to ramp up the gains. So in our list we’re covering all bases – it if kick starts muscle growth, it’s going on the list…
10 Ways To Increase Weight Training Workout Intensity
If you want to grow more muscle, this is the holy grail.
Whether it makes you breathe out of your ass, lift more weight, get supercharged strength or leave you crumpled on the floor in a pool of piss and muscle pump, we’ve got you covered.
Integrate these intensifiers into your program and watch those muscle swell…
#1. Load up the bar
Well this is a pretty obvious one right?
You’d think so, but many bros choose to stick with the same weights out of habit. Every. Single. Damn. Workout.
You can build muscle with light weights, that’s for sure.
But your also have to use principles of progressive overload too, or your muscles see no reason to balloon in size.
The concept of overload means taking your body out of it’s comfort zone. Every couple of weeks you should be looking at increasing the weight you lift slightly to keep your body adapting.
If you lift the same load for too long your body will stop adapting. And that means no more growth.
#2. Hit Higher Volumes
One way to guarantee more muscle growth is to ramp up the volume of your lifts.
Volume refers to reps x sets x load and research shows that the higher your ‘volume load’, the more muscle growth occurs.
For example, if you lifted 180 kg on a deadlift for 4 sets of 5 reps you’d have a lifting load volume for that exercise of 3,600 kg.
Sounds pretty big when you say it like that, right?
So how do you increase your volume?
Well, we’ve already said that increasing the weights you lift will add muscle mass. You could sneak that deadlift up to 185 kg for example and that’d trigger more growth, presuming you kept the reps and sets the same..
But let’s talk about the reps and sets themselves.
If you’re one of those guys that avoids training to fatigue and stops when they get to a set number of reps, start to work past it until you hit the point where you just can’t complete another full repetition.
Guaranteed, you’ll squeeze a few more out.
And every single one of them counts.
Add an extra set to each exercise too. Okay, it might make your workouts slightly longer, but the more volume you can jam into that workout, the better results you’ll get.
In fact, keep adding sets until your productivity falls. Do that for a few weeks and then back off for a week.
#3. Periodize Your Training
Okay, so this one isn’t about making just one weight training workout more intense. It’s about making your overall program tougher.
Periodization is a training model introduced in Soviet countries. It uses blocks of training that have individual goals, but work together to help you improve overall muscle mass, strength and power.
There are loads of different approaches to periodization, but linear models work well for bodybuilders. They’re simple and they’re effective.
Spending 4 or so weeks focusing on muscle growth, a couple on heavy strength work and then returning back to muscle growth for another block forces your body to keep adapting.
It’s a great way of increasing the intensity of your weight training workouts.
#4. Use Advanced Lifting Systems
There are some real f*cking brutal workout systems that’ll supercharge your muscle growth and deliver demigod strength too.
Not only do they keep things interesting (if you call scolding lactate accumulation and eye-ball bursting intensity interesting), they speed up results in double time.
#5. Try Unilateral Training
You squat, bench, press and pull on a regular basis. But do you ever try to train one limb at a time when you throw these into your workouts?
Unilateral training is popular among athletes and bodybuilders that value good quality muscle proportion.
Because mind-to-muscle connections are important for hypertrophy, single arm or leg training allows you to dial into the muscle much easier, resulting in a better stimulus for growth.
And if you combine the weight you lift on each leg or arm unilaterally, it’d be around 20% higher than the weight you’d lift on both legs combined.
This is called the bilateral deficit.
For example, you might be able to leg press 200 kg on a normal 2-footed leg press. But you’ll be able to do more than 100 kg per leg if you performed it unilaterally – probably around 120 kg.
That’s 240 kg and a big increase in muscle-building load volume!
#6. Use Accommodating resistance
You might have seen dudes in the gym using chains and bands tied to their barbells and wondering why the hell they’re doing some crazy looking lifting.
Accommodating resistance is used by elite coaches to increase the intensity of athletes’ weight training workouts. Specifically to make the lift more challenging throughout the full range of motion.
Every exercise has what’s called a ‘resistance curve’, where the lift feels easier during some parts and harder at others.
For example, a squat and bench are hardest at the bottom of the movement, and a bicep curl is toughest as the forearm hits parallel to the floor.
By adding a band or a chain, you can make the last portion of the movement (which is often the easiest) much harder.
So that last little bit of the squat or bench press all of a sudden feels more challenging than normal as the weight of the chain or the elasticity of the band get maxed out.
Accommodating resistance is a great way of increasing the intensity of weight training workouts.
#7. Try Something New
Short and simple. If you’re stuck in a rut and find yourself hitting the same exercises over and over again, it’s time for a change.
Much like when you take the same route to work day in, day out, your body and mind just go on autopilot.
But if you change your route because the highway’s closed off and have to navigate somewhere you’re not familiar with, it becomes more challenging.
You have to really think about it.
it doens’t have to be drastic. Swap the barbell bench press for a dumbbell press. Maybe throw in a decline position to shift things around.
Skip the EZ bar curl you finish with every week and perform some Zottman curls or cable curls.
There’s a million different lifts out there.
So use them.
#8. Change Your Rest Times
Okay, this one can work two ways.
Firstly, you can reduce your recovery periods between sets to increase the intensity.
This will give less time to bathe your cells in oxygen and result in more lactate accumulation (great for elevating growth factors and muscle damage). It’ll also get your heart rate up as your vascular system works over time to try and get rid of metabolite build-up.
Or, you can take longer rest times.
You’ll recover fully between sets you’ll be able to lift heavier – and as you know by now, heavy weights means higher volume loads.
The result? Significantly more mass.
#9. Try Power Training
One surefire way to get your muscles burning and your nervous system working overtime is power training.
Using explosive movements such as plyometrics, box jumps, Olympic lifting high velocity strength training and ballistic training, boost everything from speed to muscle mass.
Power refers to speed x strength and is a great way to elevate your maximal strength, nervous system efficiency and athletic performance.
In other words, you can’t be powerful if you’re slow.
To increase the intensity of your weight training workout choose compound exercises such as squats, military press and rows. Stick a weight you can grind out 3 sets of 6 fast reps out with and off you go.
Get plenty of rest between sets and be as quick as you can as you lift the weight, but slow and controlled on the way down for safety.
#10. Try Negative Reps
If you take a look at the research, it’s the negative part of a lift that stimulates most growth.
That’s just down to how your muscle fibers are organised and that when you lower a weight under tension it creates optimal muscle damage.
You’re also much stronger eccentrically than you are lifting a weight, so let’s take advantage of that.
2:1 eccentric training
Pick an exercise machine such as the leg extension, shoulder press, chest press or arm curl (it works better on machines as they’re safer).
Choose a weight that you can smash out 10-15 reps with.
Lift the weight as normal with both legs or arms but then lower it with only one. Lift again with both and then lower using the opposite single limb.
Try and lower the weight with control over 2-5 seconds. It’ll be heavy but the intensity of this weight training workout system will lead to rapid and brutal muscle mass.