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High Intensity Weight Training Workouts

Updated on April 8, 2015

Weight Training With High Intensity

Building muscle mass and strength are the primary goals of most men who weight train. However, there are too many people who just go through the motions when they weight train and always use the same weights for the same amount of reps and exercises during every workout. You've almost certainly seen guys at the gym who've been lifting for years but don't have any real muscle mass to show for it. If you want to build muscle you need to go all out for your muscles to respond. This means that you have to perform high intensity weight training workouts. There are a few things you can do to make a workout more intense like going to failure on all of your sets or taking less rest between sets. You can also use certain techniques and perform certain workouts to increase your weight training intensity.

High Intensity Weight Training Techniques

If you want to do high intensity weight training workouts, there are some great techniques you can use. The best of these techniques are forced reps and drop sets.

Forced reps are repetitions done with the assistance of a spotter. When you get to positive failure on a set, your spotter can help you with one or 2 extra reps to really hit your muscles hard. Some lifters may want more than just two extra reps but at that point the spotter may be doing just as much work as they are to lift the weight. Two extra reps on a few sets is plenty when you want to do forced reps during your high intensity weight training workouts. They are very intense, and can lead to overtraining if you use them too much. The best exercises to do forced reps on include bench presses, incline presses, military presses, and various biceps and triceps exercises.

Another excellent technique for high intensity weight training workouts is to perform drop sets. These are sets that you do until failure, then decrease the weight quickly and continue lifting until you can't any more reps. You can drop the weight multiple times for more intensity. When you do drop sets you should decrease the weight by 10 or 20 % for each drop. This technique is great use as a finisher to a workout. The best exercises to perform drop sets are ones that you can quickly decrease the weight on. These include machine exercises that you can pull a pin from a weight stack and lower the weight such as cable crossovers, pulldowns, rows, and leg extensions.

If you want to perform high intensity weight lifting workouts you can also do supersets. Supersets are basically a set of one exercise followed immediately by a set of another exercise. Supersets are best done with exercises for either the same muscle group or opposing muscle groups. When you do supersets of exercises for the same muscle group, you can either start with a compound exercise followed immediately be an isolation exercise or do the opposite to pre-exhaust the muscle you are training. Supersets for opposing muscle groups are best done with chest followed by upper back exercises, biceps followed by triceps exercises, and quadriceps followed by hamstrings exercises.


While I don't personally agree with some CrossFit practices, it certainly does qualify as a high intensity workout that involves weight training. CrossFit workouts are basically a mix of heavy lifts and endurance exercise put together - usually with a time limit. There is no doubt that this thpe of workout will kick your butt.

The biggest downside when it comes to CrossFit is the possibility for injury. Many of the workouts call for "kipping" pull-ups - which are done by swinging back and forth to create momentum to get you up to the bar. There is also a better chance of breaking form while lifting heavy if you are trying to get as many reps as possible in a limited amount of time.

If you want to give CrossFit a try be sure to proceed with caution to avoid injury. It may be best to do it for a little while before returning to a more traditional style of weight training.

10 X 10 Workouts

One of the best high intensity weight training workouts is known as the 10 X 10 workout. It's basically a workout with 10 sets done for 10 reps. For each muscle group you take one major compound exercise and do 10 sets of 10 for it. Of course there is a catch. The weight you use for all 10 sets has to be a weight you can do for 20 reps. You also only get one minute of rest between each set. It might seem that it would be easy to do this, but you'll be surprised. The first few sets of a 10 X 10 workout may be easy, but by the last few sets you're going to have a difficult time getting all 10 reps.

You'll only want to train each muscle group once a week to get full recovery from a 10 sets of 10 workout. Because of this you should split up your routine 4 or 5 ways for these high intensity weight training workouts. Here an example of a 10 X 10 workout routine split 4 ways:

Workout 1 - chest and shoulders - bench presses for 10 sets of 10 and military or dumbbell presses for 10 sets of 10

Workout 2 - back - cable pulldowns for 10 sets of 10 and cable rows or deadlifts for 10 sets of 10

Workout 3 - biceps and triceps - barbell or dumbbell curls for 10 sets of 10 and tricep extensions or cable triceps pushdowns for 10 sets of 10

Workout 4 - legs -  hack squats or leg presses for 10 sets of 10 and standing or seated calf raises for 10 sets of 10.

When you do this high intensity weight training workout you should do compound exercises, though for some muscles you may be better off using machines or cables. Whatever exercises you select for a 10 sets of 10 reps workout, you need to be prepared for very deep muscle soreness for at least 3 or 4 days.

A 10 X 10 workout routine should just be done for a few weeks or a month to break through a plateau and get your muscles growing again. Eventually you'll want to go back to a more traditional routine with more exercises and heavier weights. However, if used properly, this high intensity weight training workout routine can do wonders.

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Heavy Duty Workouts

Another one of the best high intensity weight training workout routines is the Heavy duty routine. This high intensity routine was created by late professional bodybuilder Mike Mentzer in the 1970s. He believed that most of the professional bodybuilders were weight training way too much and not getting enough time to recover fully from their workouts. He even claimed that you should actually train less frequently as your as you build muscle strength and size because a larger muscle will take longer to recover properly. If you've hit a plateau and feel run down from weight training too much, a Heavy Duty routine may be right for you.

You may do a lot of exercises and sets to failure for each muscle when you weight train, but how much do you have left for the last few sets? If you're training for long periods of time it's unlikely you can even muster up any real intensity after a certain point anyway. This is where a Heavy duty routine comes in. The Heavy Duty routine calls for very high intensity weight training workouts done infrequently with very exercises and sets done per muscle group. Mentzer advocated doing as little as 2 total sets per muscle group with both sets done to complete failure, and training 3 days a week as part of a 3 way split routine so you only train each muscle once a week. Of course, you need to be going to the extreme on each set to really do Heavy Duty.

The problem with a Heavy Duty high intensity workout routine is that you need to really know your body well to get enough work from such a low number of sets. These high intensity workouts are for the more advanced lifter. Most weight trainers are probably better off trying a modified version of a Heavy Duty routine with a few more sets and exercises done for each muscle. However, if you've been overtraining for some time, Heavy Duty might be perfect for you. Your body may be able to finally catch up to all of work your muscles have done.

This Looks Pretty Intense


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      James Lisbon 3 years ago

      I liked when this article mentioned that high intensity work outs can be good but that the person should customize their workout based on their needs. I was driving the other day and I saw a billboard that mentioned something about slow weight training. Could this be a viable option for some people? It was interesting, and I think I might research more into it to see what I can learn.

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      PakBreenokert 5 years ago

      My spouse and i accustomed to find at the top of existence but these days I have built up the level of resistance.

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      hit training 7 years ago

      A change in the exercises will surprise the muscles and the effects would be according to the plan. Great Hub and nice tips to improve the tone of your body.

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      Fitness Strength Training 8 years ago

      Excellent advice on providing some variety within the training routine. It also goes to keeping one interested, especially when you feel how the change in routine affects the body.

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      Weight training routines 8 years ago

      A few other great ways of increasing the intensity level with your weight training routines include; supersets, tri-sets, running the rack, forward and reverse prymiding.