You may have heard the phrase, "insanity is doing the same thing over and over again but expecting different results." Similarly, when it comes to working out, there is also an overload principle in any exercise program that you have to consider. This principle states that in order to create meaningful physiological changes to your body, an exercise stimulus must be applied at an intensity greater than the body is accustomed to receiving it.
The Benefits of High-Intensity Training
This overload principle means that one of the main obstacles that will be faced by any average fitness enthusiast is what experts call “reaching a plateau”. Ultimately, when the usual amount of exercise no longer seems to have an effect on the body, it’s usually because doing the same exercises, with the same weight, for the same number of repetitions, will not create a sufficient overload to initiate any changes.
This means that taking your workouts to a new level of intensity is what you need to torch calories, level up your fitness and strength, as well as breakthrough weight-loss plateaus. Furthermore, by making your regular exercises seem a lot easier, adding a high-intensity workout plan to your routine will also prove just how tough you really are. Here are a few ways that you can do that with great success!
Work in Those Jumps
When you push up away from gravity, by doing box jumps, hurdle jumps, long jumps, hops or squat jumps, you have to use far more muscle power. You can add these types of jumps to your cardio workout to really crank up your heart and breathing rates. If you really want to level up, add hand weights when it’s safe to do so.
Work in Those Inclines & Sprints
Whether you’re using a piece of cardio equipment like a treadmill, exercise bike, rowing machine or elliptical at home or happen to be hitting the roads and trails, it’s important to continuously tackle inclines and “sprints” into your routine. These help to increase your muscle activation, particularly stimulating the muscles of the calves, hamstrings and glutes. The muscle fibers that are triggered and worked by cycling, stepping or running on an incline are also called slow-twitch muscles, which promote toning.
Work in Those Intervals
Did you know that professional boxers are amongst the fittest athletes in the world? This is because they compete and train using 3-minute rounds, which are interspersed with 1-minute recoveries. Take this philosophy on board and instead of doing 20 to 30-minutes of steady-paced cardio, rather try doing 6 or more 3-minute rounds. Go faster and harder than normal and then enjoy a brief 1-minute rest. You can also work in different types of interval training for different goals, for example:
● Measured intervals: this type of training is good for beginners, you work hard for a measured period of time or distance and then recover for a measured period of time.
● Varied Intervals: in this type of training, you simply work harder for as long as you can and then recover for as long as you need to get ready for the next hard interval.
● Aerobic Interval Training: also good for beginners, this focuses more on intervals that force you to work harder, but don't go to very high intensity. For this type of workout, you might do 3 minutes at a moderate intensity and then 3 minutes just slightly higher than moderate.
● Anaerobic Interval Training: if you're more advanced, this type of training focuses on pushing you far out of your comfort zone, working as hard as you can for short bursts. This is also sometimes called High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) and can include a variety of different workouts.
Work in The Correct Exercises
Not all exercises are created equal when it comes to intensity training. Effective ones can include burpees, kettlebell swings, thrusters, sprints, jump rope, double-unders and, of course, punching a boxing bag. Not so great exercises for intensity can include crunches, biceps curls and calf raises – these exercises are a bit too targeted to create a full-body overload effect.
Work in Extra Weight
You can really amp up the intensity of your workout by wearing a weighted vest. Then you can run, jump, do bodyweight exercises, or even just your regular step routine while incorporating more weight to carry. The general rule of thumb is to calculate 14% of your body weight, then add that to your vest. If you’re someone who enjoys intensity while walking or running outside, consider hitting the beach. The resistance of the sand will utilise your body-weight for an even more intense workout than a sidewalk or trail would offer you.
Work in Your Ambition
For example, let’s assume you enjoy loading up the bar for your workouts. Choose an exercise that uses lots of muscles together such as squats, deadlifts, or power cleans. Now, add a fairly heavier weight than your usual to the bar. Not your single-rep maximum but something you could actually lift around 4 or 5 times on one of your good days. Then, set a timer for 20 or 30 minutes. Your mission is to do as many reps as you can in the allocated time. Rest when you need to but keep on cranking out the reps in small clusters of two or three. The secret is to always stop just short of failure, so you recover more quickly and can do even more reps. Also, make a note of your score and then try and beat it next time!
The increased intensity principle can be applied to almost any kind of training. At the end of the day, if you love a challenge, and really want to push yourself, try some of these workout intensity boosters. However, ensure that you include easy days in your routine! It’s important for recovery from those tough-as-nails workouts.