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  • does intensity matter?

    Does intensity matter ?!? By that I mean if you follow the logic that a stronger muscle is a bigger muscle is that all that matters, As long as your progressing in weights is that all that matters?

  • #2
    What do you mean by intensity? Are you referring to taking sets to failure?

    I think it’s individual. Intensity (taking sets to failure) matters for me. I’ve always taken a ‘beat the logbook’ approach to my training as I’m more interested in strength. I measure my progress by completing more reps or being able to add more weight. I’ve used strength programs in the past that advocated not training to failure and while I would make progress, it would be very slow and then I would regress in strength and almost start back to square one. A most frustrating waste of time that’s happened more than once over the years.

    I consider myself a hardgainer with a weird bodytype of ecto/endo. Tall (6’2) with long limbs, but a difficult time adding mass and an unfortunate ability to retain fat. For me and my training, intensity matters in order to make progress. However, in terms of bodybuilding, it’s been discussed in a few threads that gaining strength isn’t the only way to make progress. Skip used an example one time of how in his own training he rarely goes over 90 lbs for barbell curls, yet he’s increased the size of his arms. There’s different ways to induce hypertrophy without adding weight to the bar every time; giant sets being one example. Another example would be Vince Gironda’s 8x8 program. Increased time under tension, short rest periods and other factors have the ability to increase muscle mass as well.

    Again, using myself as an example, intensity matters for me in order to make progress in terms of strength and mass, but it’s not the only way. Some people could be one of those Steve Michalik and John Defendis psychos and make progress. Or you take a look at Roy Callender, who made an 8 hour shift out of working out. It seems to come down to the individual.
    Last edited by FK86; 11-11-2014, 03:43 PM.

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    • #3
      does intensity matter?

      IMO, training with greater intensity (with appropriate volume) yields faster progression.... You want to train with enough intensity to create muscular damage, enough volume to create metabolic stress and use a load that produces sufficient mechanical tension... You can focus on all in one session of over the course of several.

      But sufficient intensity to create a growth stimulus but not so much it is too hard too recover enables for more growth and recovery periods...

      Training with a high intensity means you need to back down the volume, and vice versa... You need to balance the factors that influence hypertrophy to optimize the growth stimulus and recovery period. The more you can do that, the faster you will make progress.

      Progressive overload, by nature, increases the intensity of the lift... To train progressively you have to train to failure, as you can't progressively overload the muscle not using greater weight or number of reps. So you created a circular argument, to train progressively to you have to train with high intensity and you can't overload the muscle without using a greater intensity in progressive sessions...

      As FK said, it is individual as everyone is going to have different propensities for using heavy loads, using high toes or doing high volume, you have to optimize them for you...
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      • #4
        This is actually a pretty good question.

        I am not convinced that it is needed by everyone (even though intensity is a relative term).

        I have seen too many pros get damn big by not training terribly hard. Yes, they have a genetic advantage, I get it. Still, it won't do ANYONE any good to train beyond their capabilities and I tire of the old, cliche' argument that there is no such thing as overtraining. There might not be for the genetic elite but for the rest of us, there absolutely is a line where you aren't progressing and can actually regress.

        Finding that individual balance is a bitch.

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        • #5
          Definitely different for each person. Physics intensity for me is progression... Heavier or more reps etc. I tend to approach everything I do with intensity on the mental level as well. Focusing directly on the goal.
          "This is your life. It is the only one you get. So no excuses, and no do-overs. If you make a mistake or fail at something you learn from it, you get over it and you move on. Your job is to be the very best person you can be and to never settle for anything less."
          ~ Ann Richards, former TX governor

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Jen View Post
            Physics intensity for me is progression...
            ???
            Ph.D., Theoretical Physics '16
            kind of a douche

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            • #7
              Just for shits and giggles - I would submit that the average lifter cannot progress without intensity. Not IM average - every typical gym average.

              What? The frequenters of such establishments seem to revel in their lack of gains, their intra-set text-a-thons, and their endless miles upon miles of treadmill hiking.

              It is my contention that if you were to kidnap 50 of them, force them to train to failure on every body part for 6 weeks, they'll see progress in themselves that they swore just two months prior could only come from steer-oids.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Sammich View Post
                ???


                Physical .. Effing predictive text ... Sorry
                "This is your life. It is the only one you get. So no excuses, and no do-overs. If you make a mistake or fail at something you learn from it, you get over it and you move on. Your job is to be the very best person you can be and to never settle for anything less."
                ~ Ann Richards, former TX governor

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                • #9
                  work out hard and heavy but save your real intensity for food time.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Ken "Skip" Hill View Post
                    This is actually a pretty good question.

                    I am not convinced that it is needed by everyone (even though intensity is a relative term).

                    I have seen too many pros get damn big by not training terribly hard. Yes, they have a genetic advantage, I get it. Still, it won't do ANYONE any good to train beyond their capabilities and I tire of the old, cliche' argument that there is no such thing as overtraining. There might not be for the genetic elite but for the rest of us, there absolutely is a line where you aren't progressing and can actually regress.

                    Finding that individual balance is a bitch.

                    Skip
                    Skip, I don't think anyone is saying go beyond capabilities, but training with intensity, to failure, certainly creates muscular damage and metabolic stress, factors which are needed for a hypertrophy... BUT if one is pushing every set to failure, there needs to be a regulated volume that still allows for recovery within a reasonably amount of time so as to continue progression. I see it as a proportionate relationship, the greater number of sets taken to failure, the more time needed for recovery. If they get out of balance, overtraining can become a reality, but when you keep, intensity, volume and rest in balance, progress follows... One needs to look at this at an individual level as not everyone is going to have the same recovery ability, experience, the same propensity to handle heavy loads or use high volume...
                    Be true to yourself and fuel your body with nothing less the highest quality supplements. Only available at TrueNutrition.com Use discount code: KSP945 to save 5% on your order!

                    Stickies...just read the damn stickies...

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                    • #11
                      I would be interested if the OP is defining "intensity" as taking sets to failure or as it traditionally relates to strength training % of 1rm of a movement? Also is the end goal hypertrophy?

                      Originally posted by mentalflex View Post
                      Progressive overload, by nature, increases the intensity of the lift... To train progressively you have to train to failure, as you can't progressively overload the muscle not using greater weight or number of reps. So you created a circular argument, to train progressively to you have to train with high intensity and you can't overload the muscle without using a greater intensity in progressive sessions...

                      .
                      Kris, I am curious about this paragraph? Why do you feel you can't progressively overload without training to failure(regularly)?

                      There are numerous ways to follow the principles of progressive overload, without failure. It is kind of the beauty of progressive overload. Doing more over time can be accomplished in many ways.
                      Last edited by Imprezivr6; 11-12-2014, 11:18 AM.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Imprezivr6 View Post
                        I would be interested if the OP is defining "intensity" as taking sets to failure or as it traditionally relates to strength training % of 1rm of a movement? Also is the end goal hypertrophy?



                        Kris, I am curious about this paragraph? Why do you feel you can't progressively overload without training to failure(regularly)?

                        There are numerous ways to follow the principles of progressive overload, without failure. It is kind of the beauty of progressive overload. Doing more over time can be accomplished in many ways.
                        I was trying to say you can't progressively overload without doing more work... I was essentially saying more work (as a % of 1 rep max as you noted or more sets) was increasing the intensity...

                        One can also progressively overload with more volume, more reps, more weight... I guess I contradicted myself as the statement I said about needing to train with ENOUGH intensity for a growth stimulus is what I was really going at in my statement, not that it always needs to be to failure... I did allude to that by me saying "you can't progressively overload the muscle not using greater weight or number of reps" but stating, "To train progressively you have to train to failure" is a false statement by my own admission.
                        Last edited by mentalflex; 11-12-2014, 11:36 AM.
                        Be true to yourself and fuel your body with nothing less the highest quality supplements. Only available at TrueNutrition.com Use discount code: KSP945 to save 5% on your order!

                        Stickies...just read the damn stickies...

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                        2014 Tracey Greenwood Classic Bantam Open - 1st
                        2015 Beat Cancer!

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by mentalflex View Post
                          I was trying to say you can't progressively overload without doing more work... I was essentially saying more work (as a % of 1 rep max as you noted or more sets) was increasing the intensity...

                          One can also progressively overload with more volume, more reps, more weight... I guess I contradicted myself as the statement I said about needing to train with ENOUGH intensity for a growth stimulus is what I was really going at in my statement, not that it always needs to be to failure... I did allude to that by me saying "you can't progressively overload the muscle not using greater weight or number of reps" but stating, "To train progressively you have to train to failure" is a false statement by my own admission.
                          Thanks for clarifying. That "have to train to failure" part just threw me off.

                          I agree for sure that there needs to be "enough" intensity in order to create a growth stimulus for that individual. What "enough" is, can be dramatically different as touched on above a few times. Some people can get away with working in the lower intensity range, however there is still progression in terms of load, volume, things that make the movement more difficult, etc

                          As for the OP I am still unsure if he is talking about intensity as taking sets to failure, or % of 1rm as I think that it does create a different discussion depending on how we define intensity.
                          Last edited by Imprezivr6; 11-12-2014, 12:20 PM.

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                          • #14
                            Here's a thought.

                            Let's say someone is willing to train with a RPE of 6 / 10. (We'll assume that "intensity" per the OP is effort level, perceived exertion, etc.)

                            Going from no weight training to training with a RPE = 6, this will produce a given level of adaptation. Training at that effort level will compound with training gains as the person gets stronger and larger, they'll need to use more weight to still train at a RPE = 6. Eventually as they become more and more trained, the law of divining returns will limit adaptation and that person will top out.

                            The level of growth / adaptation will be a function of the this effort level, as well as the parameters of genetics, program design, nutrition, supp's, drugs, etc.

                            So, there's a dose response you could say in terms of RPE or effort level, I'd be willing to wager, that's modified by the other factors mentioned above. This is what you see with intensity and duration (more vs, less) of each wrt. biochemical adaptations to endurance training: Hihger intensity, more duration will both impact the extent of the adaptation.

                            Putting an RPE / Effort level governor on the training stimulus will ultimately limit the stimulus, as eventually, for a given level of adaptation, there will be nothing novel about the exercise to produce a further adaptation. You can wiggle around this with those other factors (training design, food, etc.) but ultimately the most powerful stimulus for muscle growth comes from the training itself. (Food will add lean mass, as will drugs, etc., but within the confines of what most will do, training is the most powerful means we've got to add muscle mass.)

                            -S
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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by homonunculus View Post
                              Here's a thought.

                              Let's say someone is willing to train with a RPE of 6 / 10. (We'll assume that "intensity" per the OP is effort level, perceived exertion, etc.)

                              Going from no weight training to training with a RPE = 6, this will produce a given level of adaptation. Training at that effort level will compound with training gains as the person gets stronger and larger, they'll need to use more weight to still train at a RPE = 6. Eventually as they become more and more trained, the law of divining returns will limit adaptation and that person will top out.

                              The level of growth / adaptation will be a function of the this effort level, as well as the parameters of genetics, program design, nutrition, supp's, drugs, etc.

                              So, there's a dose response you could say in terms of RPE or effort level, I'd be willing to wager, that's modified by the other factors mentioned above. This is what you see with intensity and duration (more vs, less) of each wrt. biochemical adaptations to endurance training: Hihger intensity, more duration will both impact the extent of the adaptation.

                              Putting an RPE / Effort level governor on the training stimulus will ultimately limit the stimulus, as eventually, for a given level of adaptation, there will be nothing novel about the exercise to produce a further adaptation. You can wiggle around this with those other factors (training design, food, etc.) but ultimately the most powerful stimulus for muscle growth comes from the training itself. (Food will add lean mass, as will drugs, etc., but within the confines of what most will do, training is the most powerful means we've got to add muscle mass.)

                              -S
                              Scott, so let me see if I follow exactly... you are saying it isn't whether one trains with a RPE of 6 one session, 9 another session and 7 another session.. what matters is what is actually done to the muscle during those sessions... essentially, was there enough of a stimulus provided to those muscles during that session to induce growth...

                              Is that even in the ballpark?
                              Be true to yourself and fuel your body with nothing less the highest quality supplements. Only available at TrueNutrition.com Use discount code: KSP945 to save 5% on your order!

                              Stickies...just read the damn stickies...

                              2014 Xcalibur Cup Bantam Open - 1st
                              2014 Tracey Greenwood Classic Bantam Open - 1st
                              2015 Beat Cancer!

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