"Intensity" is already a well-defined term in strength and conditioning. It's often used as a non technical term, just meaning hard work. But what is hard work?
Hard work is a more ill-defined concept. But it's still important.
To me, hard work is when you put in your all for a given set, rep, exercise, or workout. It doesn't mean doing 4 sets when 3 are called for, or 10 reps when you're supposed to do 8. It's doing those reps to the best of the ability you've got that day for that workout.
Hard work acts as a percentage multiplier on your workout. Take whatever your results could have been, and multiply them by your "hard work percentage." Work at 100% of your capacity for the day, putting in 100% of what you've got to give in terms of attention and endurance and strength and effort? You get 100% of your possible results.
Put in 20% - just go through the motions - and you get 20%.
The thing about hard work is that it's 100% controllable. You decide if you're going to concentrate or not. You decide if you want to glance at the TVs or talk to your buddies instead of focusing on the work. You decide if you're going to push for that last rep or just not bother because it's too hard.
Going nuts and pushing too hard isn't hard work, it's going nuts. But you can decide how much work you put in. You decide how much effort goes into your workout, and that decides the results you get out.
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