I’m sure that many of us have heard the expression, “No Pain No Gain”. I have always felt that this term is outdated, I much prefer the expression, “If it doesn’t Challenge you it doesn’t Change you”. Whenever you exercise your aim is to stimulate improvements in strength, cardio-vascular fitness and well-being. Workouts should be challenging enough to achieve this, but you should not be injured as a result. There are several ways this can be achieved. An Olympic Weightlifter for example will have at least one session a week where the athletes aim for a one rep max in the two competition lifts, however the following workout will use lighter weights to help them perfect their technique as well as allow them to work on assistance exercises.
Competitive bodybuilders will make their workouts more challenging as they prepare for competition by reducing their rest periods between sets to increase the intensity of the session. Some of these sessions will include super-sets, (two exercises performed back to back), others will include drop sets, (perform one set to failure then immediately perform another set with lighter weights until you are at the lightest possible weight for that exercise). The simplest way that bodybuilders increase their intensity is to perform their normal workout however instead of resting for a minute between sets they rest for 30 seconds and try to lift the same weight. This helps them increase their endurance so that they can handle the stresses placed on the body during the competition. In the early days of the Mr Olympia competition the pre-judging would take place in the morning and the finals would take place in the evening. Now the pre-judging happens on the Saturday and the finals happen on the Sunday. This means that the athletes must maintain their conditioning for longer and hold the different poses for two days’ worth of competition. These places a much greater demand on the muscles, so therefore the athlete’s workouts need to be challenging enough to allow them to do this.
The average person who simply wants to be healthier they can make their workouts more challenging by taking part in fitness classes or by booking a program upgrade with their fitness instructor.