How to know if you’re training with the correct intensity.

I think the most common thing people see – and the one thing that seems to wind me up in public gyms – is seeing people lack intensity.  Sitting on their phones for 5 minutes between sets, chatting up the girl in the corner with her new gym shark tracksuit on or just simply not pushing your sets hard enough.

From my endless hours of PT experience on the gym floor (indicated by my cheeky comment above too), girls are very good at training with correct intensity and it’s usually the males I’ve trained in the past that feel they’re too cool to break a sweat in the gym. 

So let’s get straight in. 

First of all, you have to ask yourself what you’re training for. 

Hypertrophy, strength, fat-loss, general fitness, or what?

Each form of training should vary slightly when it comes to rest periods.  For example, people looking for optimal strength will often be resting for a little longer than people who are more focused on burning fat and are doing intervals for example.

However, I think this can be overdone a lot in the gym.

The fundamentals of training is progressive overload and a key part of this is intensity. 

If you have:

4×10 on Barbell Back Squats as movement number one on a programme…

You should probably feel like on set 1, 2 & 3 you’ve got maybe 2 reps left in the tank give or take and hopefully by last set you feel like you could only squeeze out one more single rep before failure. 

(This is a generic example, but a brief guide) If you are thinking after each set you could complete another 10 reps of that weight and movement you probably need to look at your exercise execution and start increasing the load on the bar. 

This goes for high intensity training too. 

If you’re doing MAX EFFORT intervals on the treadmill for the final 10 minutes of your session and you can casually hold a conversation about what was on TV last night during this time period you probably aren’t going to your max!  Let’s be real. 

Now I’m never one of those coaches that preaches Do-or-Die training and Go Hard or Go Home.  That’s silly, but all the science and perfect nutrition in the world won’t get you in great shape if you don’t put your body under a little stress and hard work at some point. 

Stress causes adaptation.


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