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Rapidly Boost Progress in the Gym With These 6 Intensifying Techniques

Updated: Apr 1, 2022

Sometimes, we need a little extra something in our workouts to feel satisfied with them and happy when we walk out of the gym.

One of the best ways you can do this is with specific intensifying techniques that allow you to work harder and smarter, without having to commit too much more into your workouts.

You'll see what we mean by this as you continue to read on.

We'll be giving you a list of the top 8 intensifying techniques you can utilize in the gym to see better and more consistent results in the gym when the time calls for it.

Muscular man curls barbell and trains biceps


First of All: When Would We Use These Techniques?

The primary function of any of these techniques is to increase the intensity of your workout and help you get a little bit more out of your workout in a short time period.

These techniques will not necessarily always bring about more gains and better results. You have to be careful to use them at the right times, otherwise you'll actually hinder your workout performance and cause your overall workout effectiveness to decrease slightly.

These techniques would mainly be used by people that don't have too much time to commit to their workouts, and have to try and fit more work in in a shorter timespan.

Or, these techniques can be done at the end of your workout to help you completely finish off your muscles and make sure you've left nothing in the tank when you walk out the gym door.

If you try to use these techniques without having a real good reason, you're actually going to limit your total workout volume and end up doing more harm than good.

Remember, even if your workout FEELS more intense, it doesn't necessarily mean that it's going to be better for your fitness goals. There are other factors that you have to consider.

The Key Takeaway: These techniques are best used when you're either running short on time for your workout or are nearing the end of the session and want to ensure that you really leave nothing in the tank.

Partial Reps

This is an effective intensity technique that's pretty simple to understand. And it's exactly what it sounds like.

Partial reps are basically reps that only go through a fraction or a certain portion of the regular range of motion.

Partial reps are usually used on isolation exercises such as the bicep curl, cable pushdown, calf raise and lateral raise.

Most of the time this is going to be incorporated into the end of a workout where you usually finish off with a couple of isolation movements, to help ensure that the muscles really have nothing left when you leave the gym.

However, you can do these partial reps at the end of every set as well if you're incredibly short on time and it's going to be an effective way to make the intensity of your workout skyrocket upwards.

At the end of your set(s), simply take the weight or use a lighter load and then bang out as many 'half reps' as you can.

Take these to failure and you're going to feel a pump like you never have before.

Cheat Reps

Cheat reps are actually pretty similar to partial reps.

However instead of doing a fraction of the full range of motion like you do in partial reps, you cheat your reps a little bit (usually by swinging or generating a little bit of momentum).

These are also used on isolation movements most of the time, and sometimes with heavier loads that lifters otherwise wouldn't have been able to handle.

For example, heavy cheat curls have become pretty popular among lifters looking to spice things up and torch up their biceps a little bit.

They'll swing the body and generate a little bit of momentum in order to get the weight up.

The target muscle (bicep in this case) is still doing the brunt of the work, but it's receiving a little bit of assistance from your cheating.

You're going to be able to lift heavier and lift with a little bit more intensity, or get more reps in (perfect to do at the end of a set when you're finished doing reps with proper form).

Some other popular exercises to do cheat reps with include:

  • Dumbbell lateral raises

  • Barbell standing military press

  • Lat pulldowns

  • Seated cable rows

Definitely a great intensity technique that you could be looking to include if you want that extra bang from your workouts!

Drop Sets

Drop sets are probably the most popular intensity technique on this list.

Drop sets are a training technique that involves lifters taking their working sets to failure, and then reducing the weight by 30-50% and going to failure on the lighter load without any breaks.

Most of the time lifters will drop set on cable machines, or barbells, because they're easier to change weights on.

Dumbbells can also be used if you can get a hold of two pairs with the right weight.

An example of a drop set could be:

  • 3 sets of 10 reps on the cable curl with 60lb

  • After the last set, drop the weight to 35-40lb and continue to go to failure on that.

Drop sets essentially allows lifters to 'push past failure' by allowing you to continue getting reps in, even though you've hit failure on your previous working weight.

This is usually used as a burnout at the end of a session in the final sets, but it can also be effectively used as part of your main workout routine.

Some lifters will take a drop set through 3 or even 4 rounds, pushing further and further 'past failure' each time.

Drop sets are also a good choice of intensity technique if you're working out and are short on time.

By including a drop set at the end of each working set you're going to be able to boost the intensity of your workout by quite a lot, and your muscles will be completely finished in much less time.

Popular and effective, drop sets are definitely a good option for most people.

Rest-Pause Reps

Man doing dumbbell row and building muscle in the back and biceps

This is an intensity technique that most people don't actually know about.

It's not commonly discussed, but it's actually very good at drastically increasing workout intensity if that's what you're after.

Rest-pause training is a technique that involves you taking your working sets to muscular failure, and then taking a short break before getting back and it and banging out a couple more reps (usually only a couple more).

For example, take the barbell bench press.

A rest-pause style set would look something like this:

  • 6 reps taken to failure with 225lb (100kg)

  • Rest 5-10 seconds and stretch the chest out

  • 1-2 more reps with 225lb (100kg)

This is effective as it once again allows lifters to 'push past failure' and achieve a training volume with loads they wouldn't have otherwise been able to achieve.

Please note that your extra reps do not count. In the example above, the lifter would not have achieved a set of 7 or 8 reps with the bench press.

It would be wrong to consider it that way in future programming.

To further increase workout intensity, some people will actually do rest-pause reps after every set.

The muscles will be working hard all the time, and it's going to be great for people that don't have much more than 45 minutes to commit into their weight training session.

Definitely look to give rest-pause training a try if you ever find yourself wanting a little bit more out of your workouts!

Forced Reps

Another great way to increase the intensity of your workout is to have a spotter with you 'forcing' your reps.

This is most commonly seen on the barbell bench press, but people do still use it for exercises such as the tricep pushdown and the barbell curl.

Essentially, you'll pick a load that's heavy to you, and aim for a rep range that you likely won't actually be able to achieve.

Do as many reps as you can on your own, before having the spotter assist you for the remainder of the set.

You'll still do most of the work in lifting the weight up, but your spotter is going to be there helping you out.

They'll only do as much as they need to to assist you, which is going to keep the workout intensity for you high. You should constantly feel like you're fighting hard to get each rep.

These 'forced' reps are helping you push past failure and get more out of your workout in a shorter time period.

This is also one of the more popular intensity techniques you'll see people doing in the gym.

Isometric Holds

Man curling barbell and building lots of muscle with intensity techniques

Last but not least, we've got a slightly less popular and less well known intensity technique.

Isometric holds are very simple to understand, but are very good at increasing your workout intensity and helping you get more out of your muscles quickly.

Basically, all you would do is hold the contraction (squeezed position) of an exercise for a short while at the end of your set(s) to help burn the muscle out.

If you're short on time, you'd do this at the end of most, if not all of your sets during the session.

If you're just looking to burn the muscle out, you'd want to do this at the end of your workout in the final 1-2 sets to really ensure you leave nothing in the tank when you leave the gym.

Isometric holds and contractions are primarily done on isolation exercises because they often allow for better contractions in the first place, but there are still some compound exercises where it would make sense for you to try them on.

For example, you could hold yourself at the top of the bar after a set of chin ups to really burn out the biceps, forearms and back muscles.

Or you could hold the weight at the top of a cable lateral raise to really isolate the delts and burn them out before you leave the gym.

Isometric holds are a very effective intensity technique that almost anyone would be able to benefit from, just in the last couple of sets of their workout session.

They don't require that much more work, but are EXTREMELY good at helping you feel the burn and the overall satisfaction of your workouts.

Definitely look to give them a try in the future as well if you haven't already!


These 6 intensity techniques are a great way for anybody wanting more out of their workouts to get more overall work done in a shorter time period.

Definitely make sure you understand what these techniques are and how you can implement them into your training, so that you don't have to when you actually need to use them!

If you enjoyed this post remember to share it with your friends so that we can reach more people and help more reach their fitness goals!

And if you would like some help with getting in shape, (even if you're short on time!), check out our custom programs feature for a fully personalized workout program that's going to help you boost gains, fast.

Thanks for reading!


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