It’s tough to bring crazy intensity to every single workout. We all have a propensity to get bogged down and overworked throughout the week, and toward the end of the week it’s hard to crank out the juice for some respectable muscle failure. But there are a couple internal and external solutions that will help you break through these mental barriers for increasingly intense workouts.
1. Drink coffee before you hit the gym
Darrell Armstrong, former point guard for the Orlando Magic, was known for his frenetic energy during the course of an entire game. This man was unstoppable, and because his vibratory oscillations were so high, you could barely see him. Darrell also drank two pots of coffee before every single game; he was the Dave Grohl of professional basketball. Though Darrell is among the more infamous coffee-nuts, professional athletes of all types have been using this stimulant for generations.
Caffeine has long been used to increase focus. Coffee stimulates the adrenals which produce hormones that convert fat into energy — energy you can break through a plateau with. Some people get super-jittery with coffee though. If that’s you, try blending two tablespoons of butter or coconut oil in your java. It sounds mildly disgusting but many people swear by it, and the medium chain saturated fats provide an extra dose of quick energy while also stimulating fat burning.
2. Increase your blood oxygen
Oxygen is a critical component of energy production in your body. Without ample levels of dissolved oxygen in the bloodstream, your mitochondria cannot create energy efficiently, and so your metabolism drops. If you want an O2 edge for every workout, you have two options:
1. Try the Wim Hoff Method. Do 40 or more deep diaphragmatic breaths to increase your oxygen content before a workout. (Wim also suggests doing breathless pushups after your ramp up your 02, but you don’t have to push it that far.)
2. Take an oxygen supplement. Cell food has the best dissolved oxygen supplement on the market, which uses a combination of minerals and nutrients to boost oxygen levels in your blood. This product has been clinically proven to increase blood oxygen content and reduce free-radical damage, and athletes all around the world use it to enhance performance.
Without enough oxygen, your body will turn to glycogen for energy, which has the unfortunate byproduct of lactic acid. If you want the best out of your workout without feeling abused afterward, ramp up your oxygen content by any means possible. Alkalizing foods like leafy greens, fruits, and vegetables also boost blood oxygen.
3. Train your mind
There is a reason that marathoners go to sports psychologists to break through the “wall”— your mind is powerful. You can train your mind to bring intensity to every exercise outside of the gym, surprisingly, and whenever you have time to think about your workouts. So start by imagining a furious muscle pump and an explosive repetition for every workout that you do. Then feel yourself getting stronger with each rep. Build up the excitement in your mind until you actually start to wish you were in the gym and able to throw those weights up with all that you have. The mind is perhaps the most important muscle in weight training, so devote time to workout it out in between workouts.
As most successful coaches in sports have told, the most important part of practice happens between practices. If you have an “eh, guess I gotta hit the weights today” mentality, your workouts will be as dull as your mind. But if you hone your focus and project yourself into the intensity you want, you may not even need two pots of coffee. Take that, Darrell.
4. Get primal
There has been a continual attempt at repressing the grunts of professional players on tour, but none have succeeded. Many professional tennis players are able to channel their greatest intensity by going primal when they need concentration and power, just like in karate.
If you want to make sure you’ve given every last ounce to your rep, don’t be afraid to let out a man-growl when you need to. It helps, and it has been scientifically verified to increase force by as much as 10%. As a bonus, people will generally be afraid of you, which bolsters the feeling of intensity.
If you’ve tried everything you can to boost your workout intensity to no avail, you may just need to take a break. Bodybuilding experts like Mike Mentzer and Scott Abel recommend taking a week to two week break after several months of regular lifting. If your muscles protest the thought of hitting the gym, you might just need to let the recover for an extended period of time.