Top Ways to Boost Workout Intensity

Top Ways to Boost Workout Intensity


Intensity plays a massive role in achieving the best possible results. Fitness is all about how you work while you are working and the more you give, the more you get!  So, how can you maximize your intensity in order to enhance your workouts? These fitness experts will tell you just how!


Igor Klibanov – CEO, Fitness Solutions Plus

Add a static (isometric hold) in the most difficult position of the exercise. Hold that position for 3-4 seconds. If it’s a bicep curl, for example, the weakest position is usually where the elbow is at 90 degrees. If it’s a squat, it is usually right at parallel.

A movement is always limited by the “weakest link”. This is the point where you can generate the least amount of tension. Yet, if you’re doing normal reps with let’s say, a 2 second raising phase and a 2 second lowering phase, the 2-3 inches where you’re your weakest gets a grand total of maybe 1-2 seconds across a set of 10 reps (that is total, not per rep). Whereas, if you hold each rep for 3 seconds in the weakest position, you accumulate 30 seconds in that position. That will get you stronger faster and boost workout intensity!

Take your recovery seriously! This seems kind of paradoxical, considering the article is about boosting workout intensity, doesn’t it? The reason this this is one of my top tips is because the fresher you go into your workout, the more effort you’ll be able to put into your workout. You might be able to squeeze out an extra 2-3 reps, or use a slightly heavier weight.

The most powerful thing you can do for your recovery is good, restful sleep. There are other modalities you can implement, like contrast showers, targeted supplementation, saunas, and more.


Scott Morrow– Regional Vice-President, Individual Sales, Eastern Canada
  • Drink coffee. I find this helps me get a bit geared up and ready to work hard!
  • Do hard intervals with rest in between.
  • Ensure you are eating and sleeping well.
  • Stay fueled up! Eat and drink, especially for long rides.
  • Have music. I don’t listen to music while I ride, but I love to listen to some good music before to help get me going.
  • Watch videos. For indoor riding (in the winter or rainy days), I enjoy watching pro races and race highlights.


Josh Hewett– Personal Trainer and Founder of Team Barbarian Strength Athletics

Intensity is one of the primary factors in getting results fast from your training, so by looking for ways to safely increase your training, intensity will most likely increase your gains!

One simple, time-efficient and very effective strategy for increasing intensity is to use mental conditioning techniques. Psyching yourself up with positive self-talk such as, “come on, you got this!” or, “you’re a beast…this is light weight; you can do it!” Might seem silly, but it can make a huge difference in your workout. Visualizing your workout (focusing on positive imagery) is another powerful mental strategy for boosting your workout intensity.

Of course, there’s always nutrition and supplementation assistance; a good pre-workout (or simply a strong coffee) before training will definitely ramp up your training intensity.

In the end, much of your intensity will likely be related to your intrinsic and extrinsic motivation to train. What are your goals and how important are they to you? What are your primary reasons for working out? If you have a strong, deep desire to achieve the results you’re training for, that will drive your intensity more than short term, superficial techniques.


Lorne King– General Manager/Personal Trainer, Advantage4Athletes
  • Using free weights instead of machines incorporates a lot of stabilizer muscles that don’t get challenged with machines, burns more calories and in the long run, protects against injury by building muscular balance.
  • Training one side at a time will improve muscular balance by forcing your non dominate side to work just as hard and strengthen stabilizer muscles.
  • Drop sets to failure. Research suggests that training to failure can increase strength and lean muscle mass. Doing so with drop sets allows you to work the muscle to greater failure.


Michal Jensen– Tennis Professional, Richmond Hill Country Club

In my house, I have an exercise room as I have always loved working out at home. I watch T.V. during my workouts which sometimes leads to “auto pilot”, if you know what I mean! I’ve taken to wearing a heart monitor to gauge my heart rate so that  I can still push myself for a more intensive workout. I recommend this as it pushes me to work a little harder each and every time.


Shane Dennie– Owner/Head Skills Trainer, SD TRAINING
  • Quality over quantity. It’s not about the amount of time you spend working out, it’s what you do with that time. Less chit chat, less water breaks, less time spent in between sets, and less time spent transitioning from one exercise to the next.
  • Lose the machines. Stick to free weights or body training. Machines control your movement and don’t engage your smaller stabilizing muscles.


Kareem Rawlins– Personal Trainer/Coach, GoodFITT

Reduce rest time! Try to keep your rest between sets in the short range (5-10 seconds for bodyweight or 10-20 seconds for resistance) to keep your heart rate elevated. This will contribute to your EPOC rate which is always a plus!

Add timed circuits to the mix. Combine 3 to 4 exercises in a circuit and perform as many rounds as you can of those movements. Throw that in between sets of your resistance workout and boost your intensity.


Kathleen Trotter– Personal Trainer and Pilates Specialist

Do intervals! Intervals are convenient- you can do them anywhere and on any piece of equipment or without equipment- and they are effective. With intervals, you alternate between bouts of high- and low-intensity training. This places a high metabolic demand on the body, burns lots of calories in a short amount of time, produces a high EPOC (post-workout calorie burn), increases mitochondria growth (mitochondria help to burn fat), and helps to improve one’s fitness level. I also find that keeping track of the time and shifting speeds makes my workout go by faster.

Pyramid Intervals

Version A: Warm up for five minutes. Do one minute hard, one minute easy, two minutes hard, two minutes moderate, three minutes hard, three minutes moderate, four minutes hard, four minutes moderate, five minutes hard, one minute easy, and five minutes hard. Cool down for five to ten minutes.

Version B: Warm up for five to ten minutes. Then cycle through the following sequence: thirty seconds hard, thirty seconds recovery, sixty seconds hard, sixty seconds recovering, ninety seconds hard, ninety seconds recovery. Repeat three to six times. Cool down for five to ten minutes.

Mini Pick-ups

Warm up for five minutes. Do five minutes at regular speed. Alternate fifteen seconds hard with forty-five seconds moderate for ten minutes. Recover for two minutes. Then, repeat the intervals by alternating fifteen seconds hard with forty-five seconds at regular speed. Cool down for five to eight minutes.

Try AMRAP Training! AMRAP stands for “as many rounds as possible.” AMRAP is an example of time-based training. With AMRAP, you aim to fit in as many cycles of circuit as possible without a set time frame. The faster you get through the reps of each exercise, the more times you will complete the entire circuit in that given time-frame.

AMRAP workouts are effective and efficient workouts because they burn lots of calories in a short amount of time, plus they provide a higher EPOC, which is the amount of calories you burn after the workout is over.

I encourage my clients to try them because they can be done using a wide range of equipment. If you are at home, do body-weight exercises like squats and burpies. If you are at the gym, use the barbell, Bosu or cable machines.

Sample 10-minute AMRAP

Time yourself for ten minutes- do as many rounds as you can of 10 push-ups, 10 lunges on each leg, 12 bent-over rows and 10 squats. Record how many rounds you get through. Gradually work to increase the number of rounds you can complete in 10 minutes.

A word of caution: only include exercises in your AMRAP that you can do with perfect form. If you can’t do squats well, try lunges. If you can’t do full push-ups, try modified push-ups from your knees. No injuries allowed!


Daniel Igali– Olympic Wrestler

Go according to your pace and your pace only!


Samir Bannout–  IFBB Mr.Olympia, 1983

Beta alanine, L-arginine, L-citrulline and a cup of coffee thirty minutes prior to my workout works for me!

Matt Ross– Co-Owner, All Star Martial Arts World
  • Find out your max heart rate! It’s simple: 220 minus your age. That’s the maximum your  heart rate should be. So, for example,  if you do 10 seconds of boxing on the bag and you want intensity, you have to hit that number. Even kicks on a bag in a very short time, like 5 seconds. This really pushes you to give their all in just a short time window plus it is fun! For an added bonus, if you do not make it, you have to perform burpies!
  • Knowing someone out their is training to kick your ass is also a great way to boost your intensity and your mental toughness. Literally in kick boxing or taekwondo, someone out there is thinking about fighting you if I plan to compete. It helps motivate me a lot. If I’m a bit lazy, I just imagine that there is a guy out there right now who is thinking about kicking my ass and let’s be real, who wants to lose?


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