Simple Strategies to Safely Increase Workout Intensity

by Janet Luhrs
Simple Strategies to Safely Increase Workout Intensity

By Janet Luhrs,

Ready to push yourself a little? I’m hoping you’re not one of the people I periodically see on exercise bikes reading a book and hardly peddling!  

If you want to go past simply maintaining what you have, and stay as fit as you can, then try pushing your body to the next level. 

Guess what! You can push yourself safely by working smarter, and not necessarily longer. Increasing workout intensity is not complex, but with a simple understanding of how your body responds to workout challenges, you can see your fitness step up a noticeable notch and feel good about your efforts.

  • HIIT: High Interval Intensity Training in a nutshell is exerting full out effort in short, intense bursts of exercise followed by short recovery periods. As a result, your heart rate is repeatedly spiked up to the highest intensity and your body not only burns more calories in a shorter period of time, you increase your cardio strength much more quickly and efficiently. A bonus is that instead of spending 45-60 minutes in boring cardio, you can shorten your workout time. Exercise science studies has proven that HIIT proponents have increased metabolisms long after the workout is over. After warming up for 10 minutes, try alternating each of the following with 30 seconds of jogging recovery in between each exercise: 10 jumping lunges each leg, 20 push-ups, 10 burpees, 10 high knees, 10 tricep dips, 10 side lunges, 10 bear crawls. The great thing about HIIT training is that it is strength training, cardio and fat burning all in one workout with long term effects.
  • Negative emphasis: Many people forget that when lowering a weight in an exercise, you are doing the 2nd half of the exercise, so don’t waste it! Take the time to do this slowly, and instead of just returning to the starting position, you are doubling the challenge to the muscle set. Count slowly to six while lowering and the target muscles will have to work harder.
  • Add more weight: You should max out at between 15-20 reps and be at a challenging weight. If you are not stressing reps #17-20, your weights are too light. For arms and upper body, add 5-10 lbs. For legs, add 10-15 lbs.
  • Try super sets: Do two sets of different exercises (to opposite muscle groups) back to back, with no rest in between. This exhausts a single muscle group and promotes muscle growth due to fatiguing the muscles during the second set. For example: do 10-20 reps of chest presses, immediately followed by incline bench dumbbell presses. For legs, do a set of squats followed immediately by a set of quad extensions.

You get the idea. Step it up this way for three weeks and you will see more gains than you would in eight weeks following your previous method. Get back to us and let us know how it is going for you, we would love to hear!

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