One of the most basic and underemphasized components to people’s success is intensity. Today, I’m going to focus on intensity with your training in the gym. But, this can apply to many aspects of life so keep an open mind when reading. The number of people I see simply going through the motions in their workouts is insane. No, I’m not saying you need to be on the verge of throwing up or passing out everytime you’re in the gym. But, the fact that the vast majority of people complain that they don’t get the results that they think they should AND the vast majority of people don’t seem to have the intensity that would be appropriate for those goals isn’t a coincidence. Most people don’t train hard. Most people train like pussies. I see a lot of checking emails, chatting with other gym members, texting, reading the news…. I wouldn’t think you need to be in one big constant superset of lifting weights for every second that you’re in the gym. But, it is very important to keep your mind on what you are doing. If you let your mind wander, you will not be focused on the workout. If you’re not focused on the workout, there’s no way you were going to put in the maximum amount of effort possible. If you are not putting in the maximum amount of effort that you can, you are not going to get the results that you want. Results, whether it be fat loss, muscle gain or athletic performance don’t happen by accident. They take a huge amount of very consistent and purposeful effort.
I’m not innocent of losing focus and going through the motions. I’ve done it just as much as anyone else. But, I’ve also realized my mistakes and corrected them. One of the biggest contributing factors to my refocusing, and thus re-energized progress, was introducing my logbook. The process of my workout begins the day before. I mentally prepare for my workout the next day by writing out the number of sets and reps I will be performing for each exercise. I decide what I’m going to do before the morning when I’m feeling tired and less motivated. I make a completely objective and unbiased decision that I will do more than I did last time. And that takes focus. When you were in the gym doing something you’ve never done before, you need to be focused or you will either hurt yourself or end up just putting in basal level effort. There’s no way to do something you’ve never done before without paying attention and trying to do it. It’s important to approach your sets with focus and drive. You want to be thinking about completing the set and succeeding at how many reps you need to do. We need to “visualize the win,” so to speak.
You should be intimidated by your workouts. If you are following the principles of progressive overload, then every workout should be a new level of intensity that you’ve never achieved before. That should start to scare you. You should look at your log book and think “wow I’ve never done that much before/ I’ve never gone that fast/ I’ve have never lifted that much” etc. These things should become scary as you progress. If you’re not concerned about your workout and how much pain you’re going to be in I can tell you that you’re workout is not intense enough. If your goals don’t scare you then they aren’t large enough. The reason people get such great results very early on in a new program is the intensity is so much greater than they are used to. People go from 0 to 60 in the first couple weeks, and the results are in line with that progression. Once they hit 60 miles an hour, they start to just cruise and think “this is the workout and this is how hard I need to work to keep seeing the same results.” Your body will adapt your body will start to do things the most efficient way possible. Your body will lose the “need” to adapt and develop unless it is introduced to new levels of stress and intensity.
We need to get focused on our workouts. If we’re in the gym, then we’ve already made the time commitment. We’ve gotten in the car and made the trip. We’re already there, why waste the time half-assing it? You’re already putting in 80% of the effort, just put in the extra 20% and kill it. It will take you the same amount of time to have an amazing workout if your intensity is high enough.