5 tips to up the intensity of your strength workouts

Lifting weights is the best way to sculpt a strong, lean physique.

Want to see results more quickly? Follow these 5 tips to up the intensity of your strength workouts.

  1. Ditch the isolation exercises. Compound, multi-joint movements burn more calories than single-joint exercises. Trade those bicep curls for a lunge and curl combination.
  2. Choose supersets over straight sets. Alternating two different compound exercises not only saves time, it keeps your heart rate elevated, which in turn, burns more calories than traditional straight-set training.
  3. Minimize rest time. Long between-set (or between-superset) breaks result in a lower overall workout intensity than moving quickly from one exercise to another. Keep moving to keep burning calories and reveal those muscles sooner!
  4. Add in cardio intervals or plyometrics between strength supersets.
  5. Finish with a ‘finisher’. After all your reps and sets are done, throw in a single Tabata interval or my favourite leg ‘finisher’; 20 squats, 20 squat jumps, 20 alternating lunges, 20 split lunge jumps. NOW, you’re done!
How do YOU up the intensity of your strength workouts?


  1. I use 1 and 3 from your list to up the intensity. My favorite is the shorter rest time. That’s why I’ve been enjoying your circuit workout so much.
    Jill @ Fitness, Health and Happiness recently posted…Fitness Friday || Races and Running PlansMy Profile

  2. I’ve been during 1-4 of your tips for the past three weeks…getting my butt kicked:) I’m hoping this will help me bust through my plateau! Thanks!!

    • #5 is a great way to really make sure you’re done! Try a Tabata interval or two and tell me what you think! Great for busting through plateaus…

  3. Great tips, Tamara. When I started doing compound moves, that’s when I really noticed my fitness level ratcheting up.
    Carrie Rubin recently posted…Mr. Nasty Pants Gets Bested By You And HaikuMy Profile

    • Totally agree. I hard ever do isolation work anymore (well, okay, yesterday I did a few biceps curls between clients; no time for anything else and I didn’t want to get too sweaty!)

  4. OH YES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I am there! I don’t do every one but my workouts are intense! πŸ™‚
    Jody – Fit at 54 recently posted…A Life Lost – Addiction & the ConsequencesMy Profile

    • I have seen your workout descriptions, Jody and they are super intense! Which of course, is why you get the great results you do!

  5. PS GREAT POST! πŸ™‚
    Jody – Fit at 54 recently posted…A Life Lost – Addiction & the ConsequencesMy Profile

  6. Great advice. Good reminder. I sometimes don’t do that finisher and it makes sense.
    Elle recently posted…Urban Farming… For or Against?My Profile

    • I like to make sure that I’ve completely finished my legs at the end of a workout. Nothing like feeling like you’ve earned that stretch!

  7. Great advice! so nice to hear it from a trainer!
    Mindy Artze recently posted…Last chance for #WomenHalf giveaway!My Profile

  8. Great tips! Love going out with a bang πŸ™‚
    Melanie @ Nutritious Eats recently posted…Barilla Microwave Meals {A Review}My Profile

  9. These are great tips Tamara! I try to minimize rest time (made me realize how much dilly dallying I did at the gym!) and plyos! Kind of love to hate plyos.
    Christine @ Love, Life, Surf recently posted…Friday Round-Up: Mattering, Growth, Double Standards and Shout-OutsMy Profile


  1. […] My solution? Ditch the isolation exercises for whole body, compound movements. In my opinion, it’s one of the very best ways toΒ up the intensity of your strength training workout […]

  2. […] Sets. The number of times you’ll perform the required number of reps. Sets can be performed ‘straight’ (complete all reps, rest for the amount of time indicated, complete all reps again etc.) or as ‘super sets’ by alternating one set of exercise A with one set of exercise B. Rest time is usually minimized when super sets are used. […]