Intensity is a word that gets tossed around a lot when you hear people talk about different workouts, workout programs, and even activities in their daily lives. It is one of our Three Pillars of Fitness here at Athletes Unleashed, and to some extent we (the coaches, have some effect on your intensity level.
There are a few components that make up intensity (specifically in the gym). The first is the weight being used. The second is the rep scheme, or amount of times you need to lift the weight. The last is the speed at which you are lifting the weight. Think of intensity as how hard you are working at a given task.
How can you increase your intensity level when the coaches are controlling the weight used and the rep schemes? Work harder. Move faster. Get comfortable with being uncomfortable. Everyone has a work level that they feel “safe” at. We’ll call that the “happy place.” Coach Robby, Coach Zach and I all have different “happy places.” You could have all three of us do the same workout at the same exact pace and then have us use the Rate of Perceived Exertion scale to give a score of 1-10 on how hard the workout was and you’d probably get three different answers. Likewise, you could have us do the same workout and let us go at our own pace and you’d probably see three different speeds. That is because each one of us is willing to go to a different level of discomfort in order to finish the workout.
What else can you do? Focus. Being able to focus solely on the task at hand and tune everything else out allows you to apply more energy to said task. It also allows you to formulate a plan of attack that will help you get the most out of your workout. Being able to forget about all of the other things going on in your life and hone in on what you’re doing is key.
Lastly, keep in mind that intensity is not only relative from person to person, but from day to day as well. Some days you may just not be feeling well, or you may just be tired. That isn’t an excuse to dog it. Even on your worst days you still need to be able to summon the most effort you can manage in order to accomplish your goals. Giving your best effort on your worst day is better than giving no effort on your best day.
Becoming comfortable being uncomfortable and being able to give your best effort every day is only the second of our Three Pillars. You can’t ignore the third: Nutrition. Perhaps the most important of the Three Pillars, without proper nutrition you don’t have the energy sources you need in order to get through your day, let alone a workout. You don’t have the proper tools for recovery from your workout, either. There’s a reason the old cliché “you can’t out train poor nutrition” came into being.
Next month I will delve into nutrition. We will touch on what to eat, when to eat it and why you should be eating it. We will also discuss whole vs processed foods and why processed foods are inferior. Lastly we will discuss artificial sweeteners and why they aren’t the good healthy substitute that they’ve been billed as for the last decade.