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Most Common Mistakes Series - Not Training with Intensity

I think the main reason many people fail in their fitness efforts comes down to exactly that - their effort.

Unfortunately, simply “going” to the gym isn’t going to be enough.

Turning up and going through the motions may keep you moving a bit and will possibly help you stay on top of things if “maintenance” is your goal, but if you’re looking to PROGRESS things, you’re going to need a bit more than just turning up.

This is more true for women than men (sorry, not a sexist thing, but just something I’ve observed over the years) - I think because women are still scared about “getting muscley” if they lift weights.

They’re happy to go all guns blazing on the cardio machines and build up a good sweat, but when it comes to weight-training, they either avoid it altogether, or just go through the motions.

Obviously this isn’t applicable to everyone, but if you look around the gym, you’ll see a trend.

Guys on the other hand sometimes do the opposite - they’ll OVER-train with the weights in an attempt to get as big as possible, as quickly as possible, with the “more is better” mindset. The issue here is that they often confuse intensity with weight.

Whilst some people will define training intensity as the weight you’re lifting (i.e. the more weight, the higher the intensity), this is only partially correct, because you can easily lose technique, range of motion, and control of the rep/weight if you lift too heavy.

Intensity then needs to be balanced between the weight you lift, and the technique with which you lift it. It needs to be heavy enough to stimulate your muscles more than in previous workouts, but still light enough to complete ALL reps with good form and under control, at whatever tempo you choose to work with.

This is hard. For those of us wanting to lift more weight, it’s hard to keep the weights sensible when we know we could lift more.

For those worried about “gaining too much muscle” (won’t happen by the way) it’s hard to get your head around the fact that this is what you need to be doing.

And for those who simply don’t enjoy pushing themselves, it’s hard because that’s exactly what you need to do.

In order to make PROGRESS you need to challenge your body so it responds to the stress by getting stronger, ready for the next workout, which you subsequently make a little bit harder - meaning continual progress.

As you settle into a training plan, this only gets harder as you incrementally increase weights or reps to increase the intensity, so while you think you’re working hard a week into a new routine - just wait until your 8 or 10 weeks in and your weights are at your limits!

So if you want to get bigger, respect the weights. It’s not about lifting more, it’s about lifting BETTER - trust me, you can either add 5kg, or you can slow down and perform perfect reps - I can tell you now, the second option there is harder, meaning it’ll challenge you more and bring about better results. And you’ll need to be eating correctly to stand a chance of gaining any substantial amount of muscle.

If you’re afraid of getting bigger, don’t worry - again, you’ll need to be eating correctly for this to happen, and if your goal is fat loss, you’ll be in a calorie deficit and this is NOT conducive to building vast amounts of muscle, even in men, let alone women.

Whatever you choose to do though, be it weightlifting or spin, you need to train with maximal intensity to make sure you’re making progress. Turning up and putting half effort in will burn a few calories, but you’ll barely be any better off than if you didn’t go as there’s no stimulation for your body to react to.

Whether or not what you’re doing is the most efficient way to bring about your desired result, whatever that is, is a subject for another time, but just remember that whatever you choose,


It doesn’t matter what level you’re at, what you can lift, how strong or weak you are, or how competent you are - find something you can do, and push yourself with it.



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