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True Intensity

by Robert Cheeke, Vegan Bodybuilder, July 21st 2004

Whenever I hear someone say, “My workout today was really intense,” In my head I’m thinking, “Yeah right.” We all have our own perception and ideas about measurement of intensity. What is intense for one person may be a walk in the park for another person. I can imagine that walking up a steep hill for 30 minutes would be quite intense for
someone who is overweight, and it would just be an ordinary stroll for
a trail runner.

I think the word “intensity” gets thrown around too loosely. Just like the words, “great, excellent, and awesome,” which are all way over- used. Right here and now I want to explain what “True Intensity” is.

Allow me to tell you a story. When the moment came that I decided to take bodybuilding seriously I had to start training seriously; and that is precisely what I did. In 2001 I was preparing for a bodybuilding competition and learned first hand what True Intensity was all about. Before leg workouts I would be nervous and have butterflies in my stomach. This is typical of sports competitions, games, and some practices, but not so common for a simple workout. The problem was, it wasn’t just a simple workout; it was a test of my own courage and strength. I was walking into the gym knowing in the back of my head, that I might not be walking out under my own power. I pushed insane amounts of weight for my size and bodyweight. If you were to look at me, you’d think my eyes were about to pop out of my head or you’d think to yourself, “is this guy crazy?” I would often weep from the pain of training with this kind of intensity and occasionally vomit during or after the leg workouts. Is this normal? Not for average people, but for elite bodybuilders it is very familiar
territory.

There is nothing like pushing your body beyond its normal physical limitations. When your mind takes over and you convince yourself to go harder than you ever thought possible, it is one of the best and most powerful feelings you can ever experience. When you scream through the pain and tears roll down your face, and upon completion of the last rep all you can do is lie there motionless trying to regain your breath and control of your body; you know you are training with True Intensity.

When people tell me that they are training hard but are not achieving their desired results I know they are not training with intensity, or perhaps their diet is lacking. I believe people when they say they train hard, anyone can do that. But when you step into the world of intensity you will see results; you have to. If you aren’t than you need to take your nutrition program seriously and make the dedication to nutritional excellence just as intense as the workouts. In 2001 when I started this intense odyssey I achieved great results and was pleased with what I was able to accomplish. In a short time I made huge gains because I wasn’t satisfied until I was certain that I was the hardest working person in the gym.

There are a few limitations with true intensity as there are with anything. To take your training to the next level requires an accurate evaluation of what your body can handle. On a few occasions I had to learn the hard way. I have collapsed under the weight while doing squats, I’ve been crushed by the hip-sled leg press more than once, and I’ve hurt my shoulder and biceps from taking the intensity a little too far. Recognize the difference between pain from the quality of intensity and pain from muscle injury. This is very important and should be taken seriously. It is all a waste if you work really hard in the gym achieving results only to have it all go away from a careless injury.

If True Intensity is controlled it can lead to the greatest workouts of your life, respect from others in the gym afraid to give it their all, and bodybuilding results you only dreamt about before discovering this method of training. I don’t mean to suggest that you throw up after each workout or have to be helped out of the gym to get home, but push yourself harder and harder each time until you feel that you are truly training with intensity.

True intensity does not only refer to training but encompasses your entire lifestyle. When it comes to intense nutrition this includes drinking a gallon of water a day, eating enough calories and protein to compliment your workouts and put on muscle, and taking advantageof
supplements that may assist your bodybuilding progress. This also means preparing meals so you don’t miss an opportunity to eat during the day and carrying supplements with you. This also means that you take care of yourself and get enough rest and sleep and stay away from things like alcohol, smoking and things that will inhibit your
progress and not allow you to reach your full potential.

Train with intensity, passion, desire and purpose and I have no doubt that you will see your physique transform the way you’ve always hoped it would. Leave everything in the gym, go home, eat and be proud of your efforts. Then go to sleep. You deserve a nice rest because you know that tomorrow is going to be a big day and you might even have butterflies in your stomach before your workout. Then you know you are training with True Intensity.