Regardless of whether you’re a male or female bodybuilder, it’s important to learn how to make your workouts more intense. Doing so means that you are more efficient with your time and will see quicker and better results in the mirror. Here are seven ways to do exactly that.
Take a Pre-Workout Supplement
Pre-workouts are nothing new to most bodybuilders, and for good reason. Most contain some sort of stimulant, which can give you more energy, improve focus, and even let you have a better mind-muscle connection.
Caffeine is really the original pre-workout, and a 2012 study in the Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research showed that men who dosed caffeine prior to training could deadlift and bench press more than men who didn’t. While you don’t want to go overboard as there can definitely be “too much of a good thing”, a pre-workout can most assuredly help you train harder.
Improve Your Focus with Meditation
It might seem strange to bring up meditation, which is generally considered something that calms you down. However, it’s hard to have an intense workout if your mind is all over the place. By practicing meditation, you can calm your mind during the rest of your day. That way when you hit the gym, instead of being distracted, your mind is only on your workout.
Pick only one Goal to Achieve
Speaking of improving your focus, only chasing one goal can help you here, too. Everyone has seen that guy at the gym who is trying to get strong one week, get big the next, then lean down the week after that. When you’re continually changing your training goals, you can never really focus on any one thing. By narrowing down what you’re training for to a singular purpose, it will allow you to work that much harder as you’re not trying to spread your effort across multiple desires.
There Is Strength in Numbers
Everyone has had that day where they didn’t feel like training, but went to the gym anyway because they knew their training partner was waiting on them. Or maybe you were feeling slow and sluggish, only to put in an intense workout by trying to out-train the other guy in the squat rack.
A 2011 study in Psychology of Sport and Exercise showed that fitness habits of people you know can positively affect your own workout trends. This means if you regularly train with people who push it hard, there a much greater chance you will, too. With this in mind, some people do well in classes or groups.
Enter a Competition
Everyone likes to think they train hard every time they hit the gym. However, if you know that in XYZ days, you’re stepping on the platform, finally entering that mud run, or are going to have to pose down, it’s likely you’re going to work that much harder. Not only do you have a more clearly defined goal, but you’re not going to want to fail or perform poorly. If nothing else, wanting to look good in front others can be enough motivation to step it up a notch.
Crank the Tunes
Pretty much everyone has their favorite workout song – the one tune that gets them going harder than anything else. If they’re going to listen to something while strutting their stuff on stage or going for that new 1RM attempt, it’s going to be this.
There is a fair amount of research on how music can help improve your gym efforts. In fact, in 2012 Costas Karageorghis of Brunel University in London even went on record as saying you could consider music as a sort of “legal performance enhancing drug”. While a driving playlist might not cause you to fail a drug test, it can help you have a more intense workout – some say music can boost your performance by as much as 15%.
Ensure Proper Recovery
It doesn’t matter how motivated you are, how intense your music is, or even how many stimulants are in your pre-workout drink. If you’re simply so tired or sore that you can’t put proper effort into your workout, then none of them will do you any good. Remember that no matter how much you want to boost your workout intensity, you still have to be ready to work out in the first place. Sometimes the most hardcore workouts happen simply just because you got a good night’s sleep and are well-rested.
No matter which of the above you choose, be smart. While recovery and meditation are going to always be a good idea, the others should still be used with prudence. Finding alternative ways to increase your workout intensity can make for a few good sessions, but you can become dependent on them to become your new “normal” if you’re not careful. Use good judgment, work hard, and you’ll be constantly hitting new workout highs.