Training With Intensity
Training with the right amount of intensity can be the difference between you getting results or not getting them. If you just plod along in your steady state comfort zone on the treadmill then you'll eventually only reach light or moderate levels of exertion! Not training hard enough often means that your body won't have even used up its stores of glycogen yet, never mind fat stores! So what constitutes intensity when it comes to training? What's the definition of intensity when doing cardio and what is it when you do something anaerobic like weightlifting?
For circuits and cardio, training with intensity is classed as exercising your heart rate close to your 'maximum oxygen carrying capacity' or your 'VO2' for short! When you train this hard you'll also be building up large amounts of lactic acid and getting into what's known as 'oxygen debt'. Oxygen debt is what you often times incur when you're training extremely hard. Your muscles that use oxygen for respiratory needs much some much faster than it can be supplied to them. Because of this, your muscles then start to respire anaerobically and as a byproduct they produce lactic acid.
When you've finished the intense activities, your muscles still require oxygen to get rid of this lactic acid so the oxygen you still owe these muscles is then considered an 'oxygen debt'. When weightlifting, training with intensity is generally considered the level where you feel your muscles will fail within around 30 seconds or less of intense lifting. You should feel like you can't do another rep. Weightlifting can also be made more intense if you include drop sets and also really concentrate on the negative contraction of the movement. Emphasising and prolonging the downwards movement of your lift will greatly reduce the amount of weight you can use but it will definitely create more intensity.
Another way to increase intensity with weights is to include just one or two more sets than you usually do, but then if you also put a shorter time limit of something like 45 minutes on your workout then that can also force you to forego unnecessary extra rest time and finish your sets quicker. Generally, the lactic acid buildup you'll have been feeling during and after a workout will be completely recycled after thirty minutes, whereas when your ATP stores become depleted they can replenish within just two minutes of rest!
The benefits of training with intensity are huge and numerous. By keeping the workout short and intense, e.g. 45 minutes maximum, you'll stimulate growth hormone secretion and increase the production of testosterone around your body in much larger amounts than you would otherwise. Growth hormone is an essential factor in developing lean muscle and also preserving your gains once you've made them. Your body can burn up to three times more calories during intense exercise as opposed to low intensity movement and your muscles can benefit from increased sensitivity to insulin and muscles that store glucose as glycogen for energy rather than fat stores!
You can feel much more motivated for the rest of your day as intense exercise stimulates a considerable flood of dopamine and endorphins into the brain, boosting your mood. Don't forget, more sweat means more detoxing, and any aggression or angst you may have felt pre-workout can be channeled into one of the most positive activities you can ever do in life. The next time you have to play in a football match or do some rugby training, you'll feel like you can keep going without experiencing too much lactic acid or a shortness of breath! Intense cardio also leaves your metabolism sky high for hours after you've left the gym, much longer in comparison to steady state cardio.
The more you do cardio and the fitter you get, the more the size and number of cell mitochondria within your muscles will improve, thereby increasing each cell's oxygen capacity and therefore the amount of oxygen your body can use during exercise. These improvements will allow you to stay in your aerobic range and out of oxygen debt when you're training at high intensity. Your tolerance for lactic acid will also increase, making the workouts feel much easier.