This week I decided to increase the intensity of my workouts at the Y. There are only 9 weeks left before I need to make a decision about climbing the Allalinhorn. After the end of March it will be impossible to hire a mountain guide or book the huts we'll need for our ascent.
Alright, so why did I increase my training intensity? Because the experts I've read all agree that although both intensity and volume are important factors in the overall bodybuilding picture, intensity is the ultimate baseline factor. For that reason, just performing a certain number of sets cannot be considered as the primary component in muscle growth. You can have as much volume as you like, but in the absence of training intensity you won't see any optimal muscle building results. In fact, more training volume can actually be counterproductive and increase your chances of injury. Once intensity is set at a proper level, the way you get more gains is by focusing on how you can fit more recoverable volume in. Notice I said "recoverable" volume. If you aren't getting sufficient sleep at night, your body will never be able to recover from your workouts. Last Tuesday, after an intense workout, I went to bed at 8:30 and woke up at 7:30. That's 11 hours of solid sleep. My body obviously needed it. Keep in mind that sleep also affects the recovery of your central nervous system and not only of your muscles. I'm not saying that you should lift with every ounce of intensity you can muster until your eyeballs are popping out of their sockets. But the amount of workout intensity should be enough to trigger the body's muscle growth response.
At any rate, here are some short videos of three of the many different exercises I performed during today's workout. I was able to max out the cable pulldown machine at 115 pounds without straining myself. It was hard but comfortable.
Furthermore, my dumbbell presses are now up to 30 pounds for each arm, which requires a lot of effort.
Of course, my favorite exercise remains the pullup.
At the end of the day, if you're wanting to see greater muscle growth from your workouts, you're going to have to be willing to push harder. There's no sense in spending hours and hours at the gym to get results when far less time is capable of doing the same.