Increasing the intensity level when you are a bodybuilder

Increasing the intensity level with the Heavy and Intense training Cycles:

By Francis Benfatto

We all know that in order to build muscle we have to train intensely, but from the number of emails I receive from bodybuilders, it is pretty clear to me that what isn’t so obvious is how to create intensity and furthermore what degree of intensity must be generated during a training session in order to induce maximum possible growth.

Most bodybuilders use the heavy or overload system which has its own and obvious limitations especially when training become too heavy. Training heavy is good when you are training the muscle, but not always good for your bones. Only by generating progressively stronger muscular contractions in one single training session and with other training sessions in following do we build muscle tissue, what remains unclear to so many bodybuilders, is how progressively we can increase the intensity of one single training session and with other training sessions in following.

I personally believe that most bodybuilders still do not fully understand what intensity really is. This includes certain top bodybuilders, who I feel still confuse intensity with duration and volume. When a muscle is contracting with a maximum effort in a short period of time, there is maximum intensity. There is also maximum intensity when a muscle is contracting with a maximum volume of work in a short period of time.

Francis Benfatto - Benfatto Nutrition - BN (17)Long distance runners stimulate their body s musculature with low intensity muscular contractions which result is no improvement in their muscular size

Short distance sprinters stimulate their body s musculature with high intensity muscular contractions which result is a significant improvement in their muscular size, especially in their lower body part, quads and hamstrings.

A sprinter who is running very fast at maximum speed generates a maximum effort in a short period of time and can t maintain a long time this maximum effort.

A long distance runner who is running normally at minimum speed generates a minimum effort in a short period of time and can maintain a long time this minimum effort.

These two examples can give us a good understanding about the cause and effect of low and high intensity muscular contractions and their relationship with muscular size as well as the effort and time and relationship with the degree of intensity.

High intensity muscular contraction prevents a large number of such contractions and the opposite is also true with low intensity muscular contractions that allow an increase of large number of such contractions.

In Bodybuilding this means that the harder a person trains, the less time this person can train in such a fashion.

In Bodybuilding you can either train hard with maximum effort in a short period of time or you can train long with minimum effort in a long period of time

If you train hard with maximum effort you will be obligated to reduce the duration of your training session, like the short distance Sprinter

If you don t train hard using a minimum of effort it will be possible for you to increase the duration of your training session, like the long distance Runner

You can either train hard or you can train long but you can t do both.

In here below there is a proposition of 2 different training cycles which are the Heavy  and Intense training cycles with their appropriate methods, both the Heavy and Intense training cycles are part of the A.R.T System (auto-regulation-training-system) that generate strong muscular contractions and the best possible growth stimulation.

These Heavy and Intense training cycles are complementary, they serve each other and they act in synergy with the same purpose which is to generate the best possible growth stimulation that induces biochemical changes and muscle growth.

The Heavy and Intense training cycles influence the involvement of specific type of muscle fibers, for instance the Heavy Cycle stimulate mostly the fast twitch muscle fibers while the Intense Cycle stimulate more the slow twitch muscle fibers.

But all muscle fibers react to both training cycles only when you are training hard.

Heavy cycle is based on 2 different physical qualities that are Strength and Power in order to follow one of the fundamental A.R.T System principles which is to initiate a (maximum effort in a short period of time).

Francis Benfatto - Benfatto Nutrition - BN (15)Intense cycle is based on 2 other and different qualities (mental and physical) that are (Perfect form and Volume of work) in order to follow the second A.R.T System principles which is to initiate a (maximum volume of work in a short period of time).

Heavy Cycle and it s own application method with the Squat exercise as an example:

In order to initiate a (maximum effort in a short period of time) my recommendation is to used a compound exercise, a compound exercise is one exercise in which more than one muscle group is participating in moving the weight.

The focus here is on compound exercise that activate as much muscle mass as possible with the strategy to only utilise a minimum of our energy reserve.

  1. The range of movement of your Squat should be as great as possible, break slightly the parallel to the floor with your knees in perfect alignment to your toes.
  2. The range of motion must be conducted at a relatively slow rate of speed the Squat which is initiated with a sudden jerk or thrust, and then continued to the contracted position rapidly involves very little actual muscle fibers in the completion of the movement. Once the speed exceeds a certain rate, there is a decrease in a good form and efficiency then the force of momentum takes over, therefore to avoid this negative situation, my advice is to select carefully the appropriate weight in order to make only the muscles concerned to be 100% involved in moving the resistance, to realise this task try to feel the muscle working in both positive and negative strength, again watch your form and speed.
  3. After the necessary warm-up sets, select a weight that will allow approximately six reps in strict form going to failure, means going to a point where you can no longer raise the weight in perfectly strict fashion from a point of complete extension to one of full contraction with the appropriate body position to serve and benefit only your muscles concerned by the lift.
  4. Do at least 2 to 3 working sets in total, keep in mind that more is not better especially if you use the method, training to failure and correct form; everyone wishing to generate the best possible growth stimulation should follow these methods of training to failure and correct form.
  5. Training to failure for 2 to 3 working sets will make anyway impossible to increase this recommended number of working sets.
  6. Don’t increase the weight used if you are only capable of doing 6 reps with your working set which means that when for the first time you can achieve a set of 6 reps to failure with a given weight, you must keep this weight and for a few more training sessions, until you can reach a set of 10 reps to failure in strict form, then you can increase the weight accurately in order to perform again 6 reps to failure.
  7. Rest minimum 2 to maximum 3 minutes between sets in order to be able to train as heavy as possible still with a good form which is the purpose of the Heavy training cycle, if you need less than 2 minutes to recover then the weight used is not heavy enough, in the contrary if you need more than 3 minutes to recover then the weight used is too heavy, this guide line is important because even if the goal is to go heavy, there is also the relation with (time and effort) to keep in this heavy cycle in order to still train with intensity. Intense cycle with it s own application method:A super-set is a combination of two exercises which are performed in succession, one after the other, with zero rest between the first and the second exercise, taking any more rest than the time it takes to move from one exercise to the other will seriously compromise the effectiveness of this training method.
  8. In the Intense cycle the strategy remains the same than for the Heavy cycle which is to only use a minimum of our energy reserve.
  9. In order to create a (maximum volume of work in a short period of time) my recommendation is to use a super-set training method.
  10. The perfect Form is the key component in the intense cycle, full range of motion, with a moderate speed in a perfect control manner.
  11. Keep the reps between 6 minimum to 10 maximum in relation to the weight used, the speed and the perfect form.
  12. Each exercise or set must be performed until failure, at which the completion of another full rep is impossible despite your greatest effort.
  13. Perform 2 minimum to 3 maximum total supersets, 4 to 6 sets in total.
  14. Rest minimum 1 minute to maximum 1 minute and 30 seconds, if you need less than 1 minute then you are not training hard enough, you must increase the weight used still in respect to perfect form, if you need more than 1 minute and 30 seconds then you are training too hard and too heavy, remember that the Intense cycle rely on (maximum volume of work in a short period of time) with perfect form, precision, with appropriate weight, number of reps, and speed control.
  15. Basically when using the intense cycle you rely more on your skill than on your strength but you still train hard, its more an easy and control power, more a mind strength, but you still struggle through effort, in fact most of bodybuilders I trained experiment more difficulties with the intense cycle than with the heavy one.How a beginner, an intermediate and an advanced bodybuilders can train with the intense and the heavy training cycles: The differences between a beginner, an intermediate and advanced bodybuilders in training with both the intense and heavy cycle will be the content, the duration and the frequency of each training session.A beginner will spend more time training because he doesn’t know the degree of effort or intensity he must generate in order to induce the best possible growth stimulation. The intermediate has already spent the necessary time in this learning curve, now he knows about training with good form, selecting appropriate weight, using more accurately his number of sets and reps and can do his training session in a shorter period of time than the beginner. He already has the ability to induce a higher degree of effort or intensity; in fact his knowledge and skill allows him to progress in strength and in size faster than the beginner.I believe that the advanced bodybuilder should work with precision using the perfect form in most of the training-techniques and technical exercises which are specific exercises like isolation, angled, transformed exercises that are difficult to execute in perfect fashion, an advanced bodybuilder is accurate in using the appropriate weight, sets and reps, he is the Black-Belt of bodybuilding, he is able to train faster, generating maximum effort in short time while training heavy or creating maximum volume of work in short time while training intense, the advanced bodybuilder is very efficient working productively with no waist of time or unnecessary effort, training infrequently unlike the beginner and the intermediate who need both, more training sessions, he is capable of training very hard, therefore needs more time to recover in between training sessions, he has a lot of knowledge, skill and experience which allow him to progress faster than the beginner and the intermediate bodybuilder, he has the capability to reach his full muscular potential in a short time.Conclusion:Repeating training sessions that are already easy to perform will do very little to progress.  Only by pushing yourself through (maximum effort in short time) or through (maximum volume of work in a short time) you will progress.Until next time train intense by using the heavy and intense training cycles with a good form and secondly don’t forget to supplement your body with the necessary nutrition and supplementation for ultimate recovery and performance!
  16. Where each succeeding rep of a set will cause more difficulty in going further, when you will go in exhausting yourself until the end of your set in (heavy cycle) or sets in (intense cycle), or when you will push (a set in heavy) or (sets in intense cycles) to failure then and only then you will be sure that you will be doing what is necessary to do in order to progress and to reach your maximum potential.
  17. If for example you end a set because a chosen number of reps have been completed or because the reps had begun to get difficult very little chance to progress will come.
  18. Only intense training sessions can cause the muscle to react positively and growth.
  19. In fact the one who has to train the most is obviously the beginner and not because he has to build more muscle than the intermediate or the advanced bodybuilders but simply because he has to learn how to train efficiently which means that he has to learn how to exercise his will with first the basic and compound exercises such exercises like squat for the thighs, bench press for the chest, dumbbell press for the shoulders etc …

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