When we think of increasing the intensity of an exercise, we often think of increasing the amount of weight we are using. This is important for overloading the muscle and making progress. With that being said, there are also a few other beneficial ways to increase the intensity of an exercise without adding more weight.
Increase the Reps
By adding more reps, the muscles have to work for a longer period of time and it helps improve the muscle’s endurance. This will absolutely make the exercise more challenging. Remember, whenever you do high reps, the weight being used should be on the lighter side.
Holding a position in place without moving requires the muscles to have constant tension. An example would be a plank hold or a hollow body hold.
Focus on Eccentric
The eccentric phase of a movement is simply the phase of the movement where the muscle fibers are lengthening. An example would be when you lower down into a squat and the quad muscles are lengthening (stretching). If you focus on this phase and slow it down, it will make the exercise much more challenging and help switch up the normal stimulus the muscle receives. An example would be lowering down in the squat for 5 seconds, pausing 1 second at the bottom, and then standing back up in 2 seconds.
Pause reps create more tension and really make you focus on the technique of the movement. An example would be to squat and at the bottom of the squat, you must pause for 3 seconds before standing back up.
Half reps are a great way to mix up your normal style of training and create more time under tension. For example, lower all the way down for a push up, come up only half way, then lower all the way back down, and then finish by pushing all the way back up to the starting position.
by HealthEase Fitness Professional Alex Michaels BS, ACE CHC, FNS