Training

Intensity: Put In Work


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[info_box]Disclaimer: This article isn’t addressed at anyone in particular, as there are plenty of people who have earned the right to do all the screaming they want during their training (Matt Kroc comes to mind). But there are also plenty of people who think that yelling like Kroc will make them strong like him; they are wrong, only putting in work like him will give them that chance.[/info_box]

Intensity, or the percentage of someone’s one rep max being used, is one of the most important factors in managing a training program. Intensity must be manipulated compared to volume to keep a lifter progressing over the long-term. The American Heritage Dictionary  defines intensity as “exceptionally great concentration of power or force,” and that is the type of intensity I want to discuss here.

There have been some people who’ve accused me of a lack of intensity, I rarely yell, I don’t often scream, I’m not a chest thumper or sabre rattler, I don’t listen to death metal and I don’t have anyone slapping me around before I lift, does that mean I’m not intense? No.

Almost every week I’ll have a new batch of college or high school football players come to Juggernaut to train and I wonder if some of them have spent the last 24 hours watching Under Armour commercials on a loop. I wonder this because they seem to think that intensity in the weightroom is about slapping each other around and screaming. The only problem is they come to me with shit technique and they are on the second warm-up set. They have faux-intensity, they don’t understand that being strong doesn’t mean acting strong, it’s about putting in work. I try to stress two things to my athletes, technique and effort. These two traits take no talent to express, yet they’ll be present in every great athlete.

We train a wide array of clientele here at Juggernaut, from college football players to 12-year-old girl volleyball players, MMA fighters and soccer moms and there are occasions when those groups have to train at the same time, though we try to avoid it. The music that is played in the gym at that time is often a cause for concern, as I’m not going to have f and n bombs dropping or black metal playing with a group of 13-year-old kids training, so the music at the time isn’t ‘hardcore’ by anyone’s definition. When this happens, I often have high school and college guys tell me that they can’t lift heavy because of the music, I then proceed to call them emasculating names and tell them that if they can’t create their own intrinsic motivation and intensity then they won’t ever be able to lift heavy anyways. Intensity isn’t the kind of music playing in the gym or a bunch of bullshit rituals that you saw on TV or in a movie, it’s as stated in the definition above as an “exceptionally great concentration of power.”

In the following clip Dave discusses how his preparation and a young lifters preparation for their max effort work differs. Dave talks about this from 4:15 to 5:40. I would encourage you to watch the whole clip and all nine parts of this interview, as it is filled with great information.

I remember hearing in an interview with someone I respect, although I don’t remember who or when, so maybe I’m just making this whole scenario up, that this particular lifter wanted to be able to roll out of bed and squat 600 pounds with as little effort as possible. As I’ve been working through my program, the Juggernaut Method, I’ve adopted this philosophy and encouraged many of the people I train to do the same. The first day of squatting on this program, I squatted 405 for 5 sets of 10, that was 60% of my one rep max. This was 20, 250 pounds of volume, over 10 tons.If I had gotten all hyped up for sets 1-4, by the time set 5 had arrived I would’ve been in a heap on the floor…like many people have been during this phase of the program. But I saved my intensity, adrenaline and maximal effort for the final, most important set and performed 12 reps. I’ve stayed with this philosophy for the last several weeks, remaining as calm as possible for all of my sets besides the final set of the day and have been achieving great results because of it. Many eastern block weightlifters and athletes were also encouraged to complete their training in a totally calm state, reserving their energy and adrenaline for the competition. There needs to be something unique about the energy you bring to a competition. The final song I’d listen to on my iPod before track meets was Rage Against the Machine’s “Calm Like a Bomb,” I think the title sums up this mentality very well. I spend my energy on exerting greatly concentrated force when it’s needed, not trying to make people look at me while I lift and think I’m intense.

Konstantinovs is a current top athlete that comes to mind who goes about his training in a very matter of fact fashion and then during competitions harnesses the heightened adrenaline levels to maximize his performance.

Making 910 pounds without a belt look like a walk in the park.

Many athletes around Juggernaut will often say “Put In Work,” they will end text messages with “PIW.” They don’t just say this or write this, they live it. What does it mean to put in work? Putting in work is about showing up everyday, every training session and exerting maximal effort, taking care of your diet, getting enough sleep, taking 10 minutes out of your day to foam roll, doing the little things that will one day lead to the greater good. PIW is a way of life to serious athletes, they may yell and scream during their training, they may not, it doesn’t matter because their effort is real, their intensity is real, however it may manifest itself.

Coaches and athletes alike, put aside your faux-intensity and chest thumping. Focus on your technique and the other factors that are truly important to your training. Reserve your maximal efforts for the time they are actually required. Getting stronger and improving your performance isn’t about yelling and screaming, its about getting under the bar and PUTTING IN WORK.

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