You’ll often hear people say that they had a really “intense” workout, which really means that they pushed themselves really hard during the session and felt great afterwards. It’s these intense sessions that produce the great results you’re really looking for. But you can’t just do the same thing all the time. Your body is smart, so it quickly adapts to the exercises that you put it through. So, after awhile, your muscles don’t respond in the same way that they did when you first did the exercise. So what’s the answer?
Just like you need to keep setting new and challenging goals for yourself, you need to keep challenging your body. This means varying your workouts in the some manner so that you can keep the intensity of your workouts high and keep the results coming. Below I’ve outlined a number of different principles that are used throughout the world of resistance training to raise the intensity of your workouts:
Progressive Overload – This involves trying to progressively increase your weights each session, do more reps or sets, or decrease the amount of rest between sets.
Isolation Training – Certain exercises are better for a given body part than others. For instance, even though your triceps are used during bench press, the tricep pushdown is a much better isolation exercise for the triceps.
Muscle-Confusion – This involves constantly changing something in your workout; the number of sets, reps, type / order of each exercise, rest, etc
Split System Training – Involves dividing your body so that you can train each body part more intensely. For instance, train chest & triceps on day 1 and legs on day 2.
Superset Training – This involves training two opposing muscle groups back to back. For instance, moving from bicep curls to tricep pushdowns, without resting.
Pyramid Training – This involves training with a lighter weight, with more reps, moving to a heavier weight, with fewer reps, for each exercise.
Giant Sets Training – This is serious stuff. It involves doing 4+ exercises, back to back, for the same muscle group, without resting!
Partial Rep Training – This involves only performing each exercise through the hardest contraction phase and really overload the motion where you are strong. These must be performed in a power rack for your own safety.