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How To Increase Workout Intensity – 5 Easy Ways

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When it comes to working out intensity should always remain high and consistent because research has shown that high intensity exercise uses your body’s fat for fuel instead of your glycogen stores, which allows you to workout longer while improving your body composition. Furthermore, increasing your exercise intensity can help you break through a fitness plateau and even add back that bit of spice/challenge you’ve been missing with your old regimen. Besides unless you’re training at a high enough intensity level, gaining the maximum amount of muscle mass possible naturally just cannot be accomplished. So here are 5 easy ways to increase your workout intensity:

1. Use Heavier Weight

Lifting heavier weight for 8-12 reps will double the amount of calories you burn compared to lifting lighter weights for 15 reps. To determine if the weight your using is heavy enough (for muscle growth) the last 1-2 reps per set should be very tough to complete, but if you can get to 15 reps without really breaking a sweat or struggling then those weights are too light. As a rule of thumb each time you can lift the last 1-2 reps without struggling/cheating then add 2-5 pounds.

Remember if you’re not using a challenging enough weight then there is just no way you’re stressing out your muscles enough for them to grow.

heavy dumbbells

2. Do Drop Sets

Drop sets are a great way to increase intensity. Usually drop sets are done within the final set of the exercise using the same weight as before, but instead of doing your normal rep range you do as many reps as possible then “drop” the weight and do as many reps as possible, then drop the weight one last time and rep it out until failure. The whole point of a drop set is to take your muscles beyond failure.

3. Time Your Rest Periods

Timing your rest periods is very important to upping your workout intensity because often times your rest periods go on for too long without you realising, this may be due to too many trips to the fountain or too much time spent chit-chatting. Either way get yourself a stopwatch and rest no longer than 2 minutes between each set/exercise.


4. Do Supersets

Another great way to increase intensity is to use supersets. Supersets involve a combination of 2-3 exercises that either work the same body part or opposing muscle groups done back to back with no rest inbetween, once you finish the first set of all the exercises rest for no longer than 2 minutes and hit it again for the amount of sets you’re supposed to do.

5. Add More Sets

This may be the most obvious way to increase intensity, but one thing that you must remember is for every extra set you add you increase your overall training time. The problem with lengthening your training session is that the longer it goes on for the higher you risk overtraining. So while it’s fine to add an additional set here and there (no more than 5 sets per exercise) don’t fall into the trap of performing too many sets.

heavy dumbbells held

When using these intensity boosting techniques try to implement them one at a time and not all together because some might be more effective than others depending on a variety of personal factors. Just see how your body reacts/feels and if you notice great changes occurring then keep at it, but if not make a change. If you have anymore questions about workout intensity then leave a comment down below.


8 thoughts on “How To Increase Workout Intensity – 5 Easy Ways

  1. Hey Andrew,

    True training begins, where our comfort zone ends.

    Doesn’t it ?

    In my case, I tend to be more on the heavy side of the weight lifting, so reading, “use heavier weight” for volume & intensity sounds a bit funny to me.. my case it should be the opposite – to go a bit lighter, so I won’t break myself.

    But speaking of repetitions, going 12+ reps with heavy enough weight is killer indeed.

    You’re pointing out excellent ideas to increase intensity.

    Probably, the one important detail I’d add to this list, is “knowing when to add variety”.

    Our bodies adapt quickly, so every once in a while, I feel like I need a slightly new angle to “attack” the muscle in order to keep progressing… to get bigger & stronger, but the most challenging part still is & likely always will be the timing – Under a minute of rest feels like pushing it & over a minute is already slacking..

    ..& first of all, we should leave our smartphones in the locker room, hehe.

    What do you think ?

    I would love to hear your thoughts on this one !



    1. True training definitely begins when our comfort zone ends because that is where all the damage is done, near the end of the set when it’s the hardest. As for variety that is a great tool to add into your routine, but as long as you’re always progressively overloading the muscle you will always get bigger and stronger.

      I also agree with leaving your smartphones in the locker, but if you like to listen to music when you workout then it can’t be helped haha and you can always use it as a stopwatch to time your rest periods 🙂

  2. Great piece of advice related to intensity !

    From the aspects that you covered, my personal favorite has to be combining heavier weight with supersets. Now this is the real shortcut to getting your rear kicked completely.

    But one thing that helps a lot are the so called pre-workout supplements. What do you think about them ?

    1. Heavy weight with supersets will definitely have you gasping for air hahaha and with pre-workout supplements they can definitely help with upping your training intensity and even strength in some cases, so I think they’re great !

  3. I have been working out for more than 15 years and I love it, but I think I am getting to a plateau so I want to find ways to make my workout more fun and at the same time, more challenging.

    I think I found the way after reading your article, I’ll be doing more supersets now because it is not the same thing over and over, you get to do something different every time and even though you are using the same muscle, I am sure you are using different sides of the muscle, making it stronger and more toned.

    I also think that timing the rest periods is important. Although I never heard that before in any magazine or from any personal trainer (shocking !), I did it for myself because I felt it kept me in a good rhythm. Like you said, sometimes we rest more than we want to between sets and I think that kind of takes away from the workout itself.

    Thanks for the new insights Andrew !

    1. Adding supersets will definitely help make your workout more fun and challenging Liliana and it’s great to hear that you time your rest periods as that is one of the biggest reasons as to why people never see any results from there training.

      Thanks for reading !

  4. Thank you for this post ! It is helpful to have specific ways to increase intensity when working out. I keep hearing about the benefits of high-intensity training, but now I know how to implement them at the gym. I can’t wait to try some of these out ! I think I need to start with adding heavier weight to my sets.

    1. High-intensity training is the way to go ! and adding more weight is a great way to start, you’ll begin to see an improvement in your results very fast Katie.

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