Training With Intensity…Might Not Be What You Think

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When we think of workout intensity, we imagine puddles of sweat on the floor and the only way we can reach our vehicle to go home is to crawl there. Due to typical “bro” literature, magazines are full of behemoth 300 pound men who are lifting in a dusty basement gyms with their supplement sponsorship popping up somewhere in the picture. Fortunately, once we get past the “bro” side of things, we realize that intensity actually refers to the amount of weight you are moving rather than the amount of discomfort experienced during training.


Relative vs Absolute Strength

Let us look at two important factors in terms of strength training. Relative strength is the amount of weight you can move compared to your body weight. An example of this would be a top tier cross fit athlete. These individuals can move a relatively large amount of weight in comparison to their own weight. Absolute strength is basically your one rep max. Strong men or power athletes generally have a higher absolute strength then say bodybuilders or cross fit athletes…


Neural Training

Now that we have a basic understanding of the two strength differentials, we must focus on our CNS. When we are focusing on intensity, our CNS controls the amount of motor neurons given for a particular muscle contraction. The more motor units that can be recruited for a movement, the stronger we will become. ¬†For proper “intensity” training, we must work towards improving the weight load that we work with. This means working within those 1-3 rep ranges and keeping the weight on the bar high. This is true intensity training…

Although this may be confusing, we cannot confuse this with improving our one-rep max. Improving our overall strength can be done with a wide varieties of intensities and work sets. However, that is another topic for another day…


What Does It All Mean?

Training with a purpose is the most important thing. Understanding that our body responds to stress in a positive manner and is necessary for precision training, will allow you to focus your training even further. If you are not paying attention to intensities and are more worried about the discomfort or sweat factor in training, then you may not get the desired effects out of your training…plain and simple.

Remember, our muscles respond to things such as time under tension, weight and force of contraction. Adaptations will occur when these criteria are met and are met with a purpose. That means proper periodization and intensity intervals.

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