Intensity and Focus: Your Two Secret Weapons

5 min read
Updated: February 10, 2023

Intensity and focus are simply the level of physical and mental exertion required for your workout.

Intensity and focus

If you’ve trained before, you know what a great workout looks like: You’re full of energy, the weights feel light, you’re totally focused on your lifts, and you’re pushing yourself harder than you ever expected.

A big part of doing this type of workout as often as possible is lifting with intentional intensity and focus. And that doesn’t mean grunting loudly in your headphones with the blare of death metal. While some types of them train very intensely, no showmanship is necessary.

Instead, I recommend we take a page from the famous Bulgarian powerlifters’ books and emulate their counterintuitive type of training for hitting one-rep lifts.

They didn’t thrash around like a madman or prepare themselves for 15 minutes of screaming guitars and vocals. Instead, they simply walk up to the bar and hit the elevator as calmly and forcefully as possible. If they could not achieve this without excessively stimulating their nervous system, they considered it too heavy.

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You see, intensity and focus are simply the level of physical and mental exertion your workout requires. It depends on how willing you are to push yourself out of your comfort zone and make progress. It’s your will to not only make it through your set, but achieve something with it.

Exercise Intensity

Exercising at the right intensity can help you get the most out of your health and fitness goals – just make sure you’re not pushing too hard or too little. Here is a look at what exercise intensity means, and how to maximize the workout.

The exercise intensity should generally be at a moderate or vigorous level for maximum benefit. For weight loss, the more intense or longer your activity is, the more calories you burn.1

Balance is still important. Overdoing can increase the risk of pain, injury, and burnout. If you are new to exercise, start with a low intensity, then gradually build up to a moderate or vigorous intensity.

A high-intensity workout is one in which you feel like you have nothing left in the tank. When you thought you could go up, you didn’t settle for lightweights. Your mind wasn’t wandering somewhere else while you were lifting. You weren’t just going through the motions robotically. You were consciously, but calmly, completing every rep and every set with determination.

Do strength training for your all major muscle groups at least twice in a week. Catch on free weights, weight machines or activities that use the own body weight – such as rock climbing or heavy gardening. Or try squats, planks or lunges. Aim to perform one set of each exercise using a weight or resistance level high enough to fatigue the muscles after about 12-15 reps.

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Interestingly, research shows that interval training, which involves short bouts (about 15 to 60 seconds) of high-intensity exercise alternated with longer periods of less strenuous exercise during your workout, works well. Tolerated from, It is also safe for people with heart disease and type 2 diabetes. This type of training is also very effective at increasing the cardiovascular fitness and helps to weight loss. 2

Focus (Mental Concentration)

By focus, I mean mental concentration: keeping your mind on your lifts and not on the TV show you watched last night, the party later that night, the argument with your girlfriend, or whatever.

Your goal is to exercise and strengthen your brain’s ability to focus and pay attention while increasing the weight. Sharpening your cognitive skills takes practice, just like strengthening other muscles in your body.

While there’s nothing wrong with talking while you relax, don’t get carried away with conversation as it will inevitably be distracting. Your rest time will be very long. When you sit down to do your set, your mind will be on other things. It’s just counterproductive. Save the brotherhood for after the gym.

If you’re like most people, you have a lot going on. You’re managing work and family responsibilities, as well as looking after your own emotional well-being. Some tasks require a lot of thought and care, and when you’re short on time or energy, quality suffers.

I don’t want to get too “woo-woo” on you and say you need to hypnotize every lift before you do it, but keeping your 100% focus on pushing the weight is certainly something Where should you be? As they say, it is “mind over matter”.

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Bottom line

Create your own training routine that helps you maintain a high level of intensity and focus. It’s much easier to do 4 to 6 reps at max intensity and focus than 10 to 12. It is much easier to be active and persevere for 45 minutes than for 90. But routine alone doesn’t contribute intensity and focus. You have to.3


  2. Monique E. Francois and Jonathan P. Little. “Effectiveness and Safety of High-Intensity Interval Training in Patients With Type 2 Diabetes”, Diabetes Spectr. 2015 Jan; 28(1): 39–44. doi: 10.2337/diaspect.28.1.39. PMCID: PMC4334091. PMID: 25717277.[]
  3. Source: Bigger Leaner Stronger: The Simple Science of Building the Ultimate Male Body. By Michael Matthews. Available here:[]

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