This article is authored by Eric McKay. Opinions expressed may not be that of SMARTER Team Training, STT sponsors or constituents. In 2009, Erik opened No Bull! Strength and Performance, a personal training facility with an emphasis on individual attention and educating his clients on proper strength and conditioning technique. He is also an adjunct professor of physical fitness and wellness at Lansing Community College, and the strength and conditioning coach for the Lansing Community College softball team, a perennial powerhouse program in the National Junior College Athletic Association. Before starting his own business he was a football coach for 11 years at various levels and has worked strength training and conditioning family, friends, and athletes from numerous sports for over 20 years.

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Intensity – great energy, strength, concentration, vehemence, etc., as of activity, thought, or feeling. This is the definition that I explain to people when I talk about working at a high intensity. I want them to work with great energy, strength and concentration. They will move the weight in a smooth, momentum free motion with a high concentration on proper technique and emphasis of the muscle in the fully contracted position. We will work at a great energy level to ensure we are using all of their strength and at the same time improving their cardiovascular endurance and flexibility. Another portion of my definition is to concentrate on the muscle(s) we are working and learning how to recruit the muscle(s) to overload them and start the building of strength. Once they understand my definition of INTENSITY we can move on to reaching their goals in the safest, most efficient way possible.

After all I believe the goal of any strength-training program is to get GREAT results. INTENSITY is the key, not set or rep schemes. Work at the highest intensity level possible for every workout and the results will come faster then working longer at a lower intensity level. This does not mean that you do silly dangerous things while you train and call that intense. It means working in a safe manner at the highest intensity level possible for the number of reps in your “one” set. Yes one set! Working at the proper intensity level will not allow people to do more then one set of any given exercise. Even if you feel you could do another set, it is not necessary, because there are no levels or degrees of overload. Overloaded is overloaded and one set is all it takes to overload the muscles. Once they are overloaded stop and allow the body to recover. What most people do not think about are the bones, tendons and organs that have been overloaded and especially the first two mentioned, take longer to recover then muscle.

If you workouts are lacking results try working with more intensity. And remember the goal of strength training, in my opinion, is to prevent injuries both in and out of the weight room!

That’s the way I see it!

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Erick McKayErik McKay BS, MA, CSCS, Kinetics Coach earned his B.S. and M.A. in physical education at Central Michigan University. While at CMU he worked with the Center for the Enhancement of Physical Education Programming and gained additional experience developing K-12 physical education curriculum with a focus on proficiency in the knowledge of proper form and execution of motor skills, and taught strength and conditioning courses as a graduate assistant. Erik went on to earn the Certified Strength and Conditioning Coach designation from the National Strength and Condition Association, the premier certification in the fitness field. Coach McKay can be reached via email by clicking here.