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Intensity for improved performance

Once you are lifting the right amount of weight, you can pay attention to the other variables. When combined with the correct weight they will help you to create intensity. Put simply, intensity means working really hard.

Intensity means that each and every rep should be meaningful, that you should struggle to finish each set, that your muscles should be screaming for you to stop, and that the rest between sets should be a blessed relief when it finally comes.

What that therefore means is that your rest between sets should be as short as is possible for you to complete the next set in good form!

Many lifters take long rests between sets (2 to 5 minutes). This is only of any practical use for strength athletes such as power-lifters who are constantly trying to increase their maximum lift.

For all other athletes, the research is clear - a quality workout demands short rest between sets. In other words, the more weight you can lift in a short period of time, the better the workout - that's intensity.

So 45 minutes of non-stop lifting, training always at the edge of failure, with minimal rest, will always trump 90 minutes of low key lifting with long rest intervals.

Interestingly, the same principles also apply to cardio work for athletes - it's the difference between going out for a jog and doing a tough hill or track session.

So next time you're in the gym, really think about what you're doing. If you are cruising through your workout, chances are your body has adapted to your current workout, and it's time to up the intensity.

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