#1 Aspect of Good Workouts

My website articles often reflect what is going on my gym during that specific time.

Last month we were doing a lot of mobility and gpp, now it is crunch time.   Most of my athletes play a winter sport and they are down 10 weeks to go all out and make themselves better.

It is time to push the #1 aspect of a good training session – Intensity (previous article “Crank The Intensity“)

Of course you need good programming, but even if you have the world’s greatest strength program, and walk through the motions, that will yield NO RESULTS.


=>IMPORTANT (and the point of this post): Intensity DOES NOT mean attacking every exercise like a mad man until failure.  Sometimes it does, as with the Tabata rope battling below, but there are often misconceptions of intensity.

Proper Training Intensity

In-ten-si-ty (noun) great energy, strength, concentration, vehemence, etc., as of activity, thought, or feeling (Dictionary.com) .

Intensity Gone Wrong

In-ten-si-ty (noun) do every exercise until YOU DIE!  AHHHH Red Bull!!!!!!! MUSCLE MILK!!!!  If you are still alive at the end of a workout you did it WRONG you pansy!!!! AHHHHHHHHHH.  Now slap me in the face so I get pumped up for this last set of straight bar curls… AHHH CHECK OUT MY BICEP PEAK!  Try to climb that Sir Edmund Hillary….

(anyone get my first person to climb Mt. Everest joke?)

Back to being serious.

Proper training intensity is focusing your energy and strength on an performing your lifts.

Intensity Suggestions:

  • Crank your favorite song
  • Close your eyes and take a deep breathe before the lift
  • Know that every lift means something
  • Picture someone important watching you lift.

The last one is something I have done for years.  I have pictured family and friends watching me lift that I haven’t seen in years.  It fires up my senses and adrenaline because I don’t want to let these people down.


Then I breathe, open my eyes, and attack the lift….for the proper sets and reps as prescribed in the program <===important note for people that equate intensity with training to failure.

Rope Battling Intensity

Garrett is able to clear his mind and attack his lifts and workouts exactly as the program dictates.

Long story short…You have to be able to “flip the switch” when it is go time.


How do you get mentally and physically prepared for an intense lift?  SHARE YOUR TIPS for everyone in the comments!  Thank you.

- Joe Hashey, CSCS -

PS.  I’m still gleaming from my average Sir Edmund Hillary joke.

PPS.  The Free mobility 2.0 bonus on YouTube – the one that has been up for 2 months – ends today as we passed 2,500 subscribers.  I’ll still pass out the free Ebook and online DVD until tonight – so CLICK HERE – and watch the video for details.


Synergy Facebook Comments


  • jhashey

    Reply Reply June 13, 2010

    [New Post] #1 Aspect of Good Workouts – via #twitoaster http://synergy-athletics.com/effective-s

  • Njama

    Reply Reply June 13, 2010

    For me, i close my eyes for about 15 sec., hands up and then i imagine certain images in my head that only have meaning for me. Then I project that energy into the movement I’m doing

    • Perfect Njama – I wonder how many other people take that mental time to get their head straight before a lift?

      Thanks for the comment!


  • phil

    Reply Reply June 13, 2010

    for me the key is good record keeping. Even if I’m not mentally ready, knowing that I have to beat the last workout in some way (more reps, less time, more weight etc) forces me to dial up the intensity. Even if I only produce one more rep, over time it adds up.

  • Great Phil – the “thinking man’s approach!”


  • Scott Markowitz

    Reply Reply June 13, 2010

    As I’ve gotten older I’ve moved away from the traditional conception of intensity – the wildman going all out until death, etc. Now, if it’s a 1RM I clear my head and picture myself getting a successful lift. When I then hit the lift, it’s not a surprise, since I just did it in my head. If it’s something for reps I try to keep my mind as clear as possible – don’t think about the lift, don’t think about the pain, don’t think about anything. Just lift. There are occasions when I need a little something extra – like at a PL meet when I’ve bombed the first two attempts. In those cases I get mad at the weight. I take it personally. I don’t get anyone else involved in my head – they aren’t relevant at that moment to that lift. It’s the weight that’s keeping me from what I want, it’s the weight I must defeat, and it’s the weight that I will think about.
    In the end, each person needs to find whatever works for them – no two people are motivated the same way.

    • Scott,

      I know what you mean about moving away from the traditional concept of intensity. I was hoping this post and discussion would help people see multiple ways to show intensity – not just screaming and going wild!

      Thanks for the share Scott, great insight.


  • DeanCoulson

    Reply Reply June 14, 2010

    I am very specific in my approach.
    I am aware of my target through logging my training.
    I have my mp3 player wired into some heavy rock.
    I visualise the lift very vividly and I am aware of the reps I want without going biserk.
    I imagine that I have to move the weight or a loved one is gonna get hurt.

    The last part is extreme I know, but it helps me tap into the extra energy and aggression that I want to use to achieve my goals.

  • Bill Jones

    Reply Reply June 14, 2010

    I haven’t done a 1 RM Max in eons. I train completely different than I did in “the old days”.

    I train in a group. The group varies between 4-14 people and within the group there are various abilities.

    So for me its really a competition thing against one guy and myself. If we have a group of 10 working a circuit to us they are the audience. I may tell him I got 20 reps on an inverted row in 30 sec and he’ll try to better that. He’ll usually come back with something else for me to hit in the same circuit.

    The others think we’re nuts…they are correct!

  • Franco

    Reply Reply June 14, 2010

    I just remind myself of the movie “For the love of the game” with Kevin Costner… before every pitch Costner says “clear the mechanism”… that´s exactly what I do “clear the mechanism” is the barbell against me at the time… that way you are careful with form and tempo and as long as you look focused people will back away and not disturb your “game”, the more focused one is the more intense the training will be… that´s for me now that I workout on my own but I agree with Bill Jones, when training with other people, is all about the competition that drives you.

  • Jorge Sanchez

    Reply Reply June 14, 2010

    Meditation. While in the locker room, or on the way to the gym, visualize in your mind what you are about to do.

  • Michael M

    Reply Reply June 14, 2010

    I am 35 and I feel I missed the prime time to kill myself (so to speak) in the gym. I mainly go to the gym (or my yard or driveway depending) for fun. I am not on a team and I do not need to impress anyone. It is just me against myself. Add to this that most of “this” stuff is new to me. But because there is not any real pressure on me and I am actually enjoying myself I do rather well in the gym. My motivation it that I love this stuff. I love the BBs, DBs, Olympic plates, and squat rack at my 24/7 getto gym. I love my tire, prowler, wheel barrel, rope, pullup bar, sledge hammer, and trampoline I have at home. I am still looking to add KBs, 2” ropes, gymnastic rings, and more. I am motivated by the desire to beat my old PRs or time or duration. I am motivated by the love of it.

  • Bill

    Reply Reply June 14, 2010

    I used to train nothing but the power lifts and man did that get old. I am now 63 and I’m having the time of my life using all the gadgets you use in your video’s. I love the ropes and KB’s and I have stones out back that I play around with. I just don’t get upset if I don’t hit a new weight total that I was trying for. I use something I didn’t use back in the 60′s and 70′s and that is patients,just keep training and eating right and the rest will fall in line.

  • Clement

    Reply Reply June 14, 2010

    Hi Joe, been a while since I last commented. Your blog’s certainly full of workouts that live and breathe intensity. I agree that half-assing anything won’t get you anywhere. In fact, a few sprints at max intensity gets more results than slow cardio for an hour! And you won’t achieve your goals with long rest periods. Intensity is definitely the factor that encompasses everything. Big compound movements are the most intense. Proper between-workout rests prep you for more intense workouts once you’re rested enough. And nutrition needs to be intense if you want to recover and perform at your best!

    • Clement – great comment about having intense nutrition. That certainly requires concentration and a well thought out plan of attack as well.


  • Isaac

    Reply Reply July 7, 2010

    I crank the music. I will look at the bar and lift to get mentally tough first. I then yell out really loud, jump around and then go in for the lift. After words I walk away and mentally say yeah take that!!!

  • wrestler strength

    Reply Reply September 30, 2010

    Definitely not short on intensity in that video. The look in his eye was all business! Great post, Joe!

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