High intensity training is usually described as performing a single set of an exercise to momentary muscular failure. However, the term intensity when referring to weight training generally means how close you lift to your one repetition maximum (1RM). Therefore when using the term in that way, if you were performing a set with your 3RM, you would be training with a high intensity as opposed to if your were using your 12RM.
Well, this post is not about high intensity training, per se. It’s about high intensive training.
Training with intensiveness means you work very hard on the sets you perform. It doesn’t matter if you’re using your 3RM or your 12RM. If you stop the set knowing you cannot complete another rep with perfect form, then you are training intensively.
Got it? Good.
Now I have a confession.
Hello. My name is Nia Shanks, and I am addicted to training with great intensiveness.
Wow. I feel much better getting that off my chest.
I have finally accepted the fact that I don’t have the ability to “hold back” when I’m in the gym. It’s just not in me to stop a set leaving a couple of reps in the tank. In an effort to try something a little different with my training, I planned on training with a higher volume in my assistance exercises along with a decrease in intensiveness.
That didn’t work at all. I couldn’t hold back on any of the sets, and I just ended up running myself into the ground rather quickly. After just a few weeks training with this method, I was totally crushed and had to take several days off from lifting anything.
I have finally accepted the fact that I am a lower-volume, higher-intensive-training kinda woman.
Why am I sharing this with you? Simple. No two people are exactly the same when it comes to how they train. Some people prefer a higher volume, lower intensive type of training. Others, myself included, would rather put everything they have into a few sets and be done with it.
Some people just don’t have the ability to push through a set when things get uncomfortable and very challenging. Now, if you can’t continue a set with each rep in perfect form, then you should most definitely stop the set. But what I am referring to are people who always stop a set when they could perform two or more perfect reps without a problem. For some reason, they just can’t push themselves to any harder than that.
And that’s not necessarily a bad thing. You can still get stronger and transform your body even if you leave a couple of reps in the tank on a set, as long as you keep adding weight to the bar or performing more reps with the same weight the next time you repeat the workout. Now that doesn’t mean you should be using light weights and stopping a set knowing damn well you could perform several more reps. That kind of training won’t do a thing for your appearance or strength levels.
On the other hand, some people just go all out with their training and take each set to the maximum limit. They stop the set when they can’t perform another perfect rep. And some people even keep pushing the set until they fail completely. I don’t recommend the latter method because that is a great way to burn yourself out very quickly, and get injured.
Now if you have the ability to hold back a little in the gym, then there can be a time and purpose for training with a little higher volume while backing down the intensiveness. If you’re feeling beat up from training very hard, just need a change of pace, or need a little extra volume to grow some muscle, then definitely give it a shot.
And, if you would like to spend the least amount of time possible in the gym, then perform two or three very hard sets for each exercise, while keeping your form perfect.
Both methods have value. You just have to see which one works best for you, or how to incorporate both methods into your training.