Training Intensity

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There’s a time and place for everything

Time to paint a picture with the time machine.In my late 20’s and throughout my 30’s I focused on doing a TON of weight training.The “Iron bug” bit me before the “jiu-jitsu bug” had!I had to have the moon and stars align like the Ultimate Warrior in order to go to the weight room and make sure my workout was adequately intense.ultimate-warrior

My mindset back then was, “I want the most return on my training as possible.” This meant using high-intensity training techniques, as much weight as I could possibly handle, and doing it “right” as quickly as possible.

I had a very long, daily, pre-workout ritual. It looked like this:

  1. Start brewing coffee. Full pot. Very strong.
  2. Crank up the music in the house. Heavy metal or……Dance Mix (it was the ’90’s!)
  3. Turn on the TV full blast. Simpsons reruns.
  4. Pull out the stack of FLEX magazines.
  5. Start drinking coffee. For 30-60 minutes.
  6. Visualize the entire workout in my head, over and over.
  7. Finally. Head to the gym.

End to end, this pre-workout process took at least an hour. Often longer. But it was basically already completed. It was like turning on the TV and hitting play on your favorite show – it was already a done deal.

Intensity of The Workouts 

Dorian Yates and before him, Mike Mentzer (and before him Arthur Jones) were against the grain trainers/bodybuilders that promoted High Intensity Training.

The idea….hit the muscle with as much intensity as possible in one set. There is little need to do more than one set of the same exercises if you’ve “hit the nail with the hammer and it went in” (I’m paraphrasing here).

That one set, however, was NOT a typical set of 10 reps lifting (concentric focus only).

It was a BALLS OUT effort that required your brain and body to fire together with RELENTLESS INTENSITY until your MIND OVERTOOK YOUR BODY’s PERFORMANCE.

Here is an example set:

  • Do a few warm up sets (~2-4). Grease the groove. Get your mentality right. Weights ~60-70% 1RM.
  • STRENGTH training was 1-5 reps. SIZE was 6-12 reps.
  • GO!
  • LIFT and LOWER under control (3-5 seconds). EXPLODE on the way UP.
  • Have your partner help with 2-3 forced reps (not every lift. Don’t try this with Squats or Dead’s)
  • Then SLOWLY do 1-2 reps lowering the weight ONLY.

These sets could last well over a minute. I made some of my best GAINS in STRENGTH & SIZE with this training.

Why am I sharing this story?

Because there are lessons to learn that I’ve look back on now and use ALL THE TIME for creating success on and off the mat.

This style of training was GREAT for developing me in several areas:

  1. Setting daily goals (and longer term goals).
  2. Creating INTENSE focus and relentless pursuit towards goals (read DISCIPLINE).
  3. Learning to visualize and achieve things.
  4. Learning to work HARD and putting in ALL the work.
  5. Challenging myself to work beyond my current (perceived) capabilities (read Testing Your Limits)

I’ve discussed #4 before in my article 3 Tips to Sharpen Your Skills. Check it out.

If we practice with purpose to develop better training habits, we will perform better when it counts.  Sometimes,  that means taking your training to an uncomfortable level. Uncomfortable is a relative term, as what is hard for some trainees may be a warm-up for others.  Watch this video from Marcelo Garcia as he demonstrates this concept very well.

Use training intensity changes to test yourself and your limits at different times. You don’t need to do it every training session, but it is mandatory if you want to know what you are capable of.

There’s a time and place for everything. 

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