How to make your workouts more intense

Sometimes it’s hard to really go all gung-ho at the gym. Maybe you meet a friend, maybe you read a text message on your phone, or maybe (as in my case) you’re having difficulties knowing how long a minute is without looking at a clock. This is all good, we all train for different reasons and for different goals, and at the end of the day, you have been training. In this article, however, I will share some of the things that I have tried and found working if you’re looking for ways on how to make your workouts more intense.

Now, I am no expert or no professional, these things have worked for me and I am therefore sharing them with you so that you also can try them out and see if they do the same thing for your workout routines.

Some of the things in this article will make your workout routine take less time, some will spike your heart rate and some will give you some pointers that will make your workout routine more efficient. They will all have pros and cons and they will not suit everybody, but they are a good start and you can feel free to discuss the matter in the comments.

How to make your workouts more intense

I will present the tricks in no specific order and I will try my best to be as objective as possible and write down the pros and cons that I find with each method.

Be a slave under the clock

How to make your workouts more intense - be a slave under the clock

This one is not so much of a technique rather something that is good to have in mind.

Usually, when you’re at the gym you do a set of an exercise and then you rest for some time and then you do one more set until you have completed the total number of sets that the workout routine calls for. The most common time to rest is somewhere between 45-60 seconds.

To implement this tip you just have to make sure that you rest no more, not even a second, longer than the time you are supposed to. It is really easy, I’m doing this myself often, to rest for (what you think is) 60 seconds and then get the weights and start the next set. However, you need to start getting the weights earlier, otherwise, the rest will be too long.

This might seem like micromanagement, but if you immediately take a look at the watch when you’re finished with a set and start preparing when there are 10 seconds left you are able to start immediately when the rest time is up, and shaving away unnecessary time at the gym.

Take this hypothetical example;

You do 8 different exercises in sets of 3. You rest 60 seconds between each set, that gives you a total of 8*3*1 = 24 minutes of rest total. Now, don’t get me wrong, resting is good to be able to hold proper form and really max out the strength exercises but you really don’t need more rest than that.

Now imagine if you’re constantly late by 5-10 seconds to start the next set, that gives you 8*3*5 = 120 seconds (2 minutes) of rest that you don’t need and is not supposed to have. If you’re 10 seconds late that’s double that time. When it comes to maximizing performance and intensity, an extra 2-4 minutes of rest can really do the difference, and to shave that time off is a great start on how to make your workouts more intense.

On the other hand, this die-hard approach to resting gives you little or no flexibility. What if a friend that you haven’t seen in a long time comes into the gym and you want to say high, or the phone rings, or any other reason you might want to add another extra second to your rest period.

Pros

You get a more consistent flow in your workout
No unnecessary extra time in the gym

Cons

Micromanagement
Little or no flexibility

Cardio acceleration

How to make your workouts more intense cardio acceleration

The idea behind cardio acceleration is to replace the rest periods in your typical workout routine with high energy cardio exercises. This gravitates towards HIIT and will spike your heart rate, which in turn will get your muscles into an oxygen deprived state and cause the “afterburn effect”.

Implementing this technique is great if you are looking for a way to shred body fat and build muscle mass at the same time. You will have no downtime at the gym, which makes this approach popular if you want the most bang for the buck when it comes to the time you spend at the gym.

Some examples of what the cardio could consist of are (but not limited to);

Jumping Jacks
Sprint in place
Jump Rope
Suicide drills
Burpees
Kettlebell swings

The list can go on, the important thing is that your heart rate should go up high and fast.

On the other hand, it will take away some of the energy that you could use for lifting heavier weights, which might affect your progressive performance.

Pros

Time efficient
Afterburn effect
A good technique for shredding

Cons

Energy consuming
Might affect your progressive weight lifting
Doesn’t cut down on the time you spend at the gym

Drop-sets

How to make your workouts more intense - dropsets

Drop-sets are nothing new in the fitness world but applied right, they can really take your workout to another intensity level. The technique that I use when applying this method is also sometimes referred to as the “reversed pyramid”.

You’re all familiar with the 3 x 10 rep routine. What you will do here is that you start out with a weight that you know you can do for 10 reps, then when you’re finished you immediately drop down in weights and complete another ten reps. When these are finished you go down in weights again and immediately go for the last ten reps.

With this approach, you rest nothing between sets (except for the time it takes to change weights). This will take your workout to a new intensity level, and also cut down the time you spend in the gym considerably.

However, I don’t think you should do this every week for every workout, but it is a good way for you to go on and reach muscle failure, which I feel at least I want to do from time to time.

Pros

Less time spent at the gym
You will most definitely reach muscle failure

Cons

Continues use might (according to some studies) lead to plateau

Build circuits

How to make your workouts more intense - build curcuits

Circuit-training (also known as circle-training) is similar to the drop-set approach in the sense that it has no rest between sets. The difference here though is that rather than doing the same exercise, you go on to another exercise where you train other muscles, giving the muscle group you did at the previous station some rest.

This approach will give your muscles and cardio a real go and the combination of the two is the key here when you’re looking for a way on how to make your workouts more intense.

The downside is that you pretty much have to do a full body workout in order to get enough stations to go to so that you can reap the benefits of circuit-training. That’s not bad per se, but it doesn’t work well if you’re on a strict push/pull/leg routine for instance.

Example of a circuit could be something in line of;

Squats
Military Press
Deadlifts
Rows

or

Cleans
Bench Press
Lunges
Chin-ups

The combinations are endless. You can also add things like box jumps or burpees in order to really spike your heart rate.

Pros

A HIIT-like approach to your workout routine
A good way of finding new exercises

Cons

Might need a lot of space
Takes some planning
Doesn’t work well with other routines

Conclusion

Regardless if you want to burn fat, bring out a real sweat or just step up your training game, it’s always a good thing to look at how to make your workouts more intense. The tips and tricks I have written here are some of the techniques that I use and find good and works for my purpose.

At the end of the day, you should find the way to train so that you feel good and are enjoying yourself.

Now, if you liked this article there are more workout articles to be read over in the workout section of the site. Also, feel free to have a look at my recipes, I am sure you will find a lot of them useful for your nutritional intake. Be sure that you don’t miss out on anything by following me on my social media pages; Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest. You can also sign up for the newsletter below.

Do you have any ways on how you make your workouts more intense? Write a comment about it!

Take care, and be safe!

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