High-intensity training is a theory of resistance training that was popularized by Arthur Jones in the 1960s. In short, it advocates: training hard, training infrequently, and resting plenty. Maximum results in minimum time. We don’t need to spend hours in the gym to build muscle or lose body fat.
One high-intensity tenant is: “There is an inverse relationship between how intensely and how long one can exercise“. Basically, as you work longer your intensity will drop off. It has to. Compare a 100m sprinter with a marathon runner or circuit training with those guys who spend two hours in the gym, mostly chatting between sets
Well, how does this all relate to work? Simple. We have all been conditioned most of our lives to associate hard work with duration. The workaholic putting in 90 hours a week and sleeping in his office is admired for his ‘dedication’. He works harder than the guy who works 20 hours a week right?
Let me define hard work anew here: focus and intensity not duration are the markers of hard work. It is impossible to sustain 110% effort for 80 hours a week, just as it is impossible to sustain a sprinter’s speed for a marathoner’s distance. Most of those 90 hours will be consumed by task switching, low-yield tasks, crutch activities, and procrastinating.
Here a some tips to ramp up the intensity of your work and get that heart rate up to 220bpm:
This is pretty much a no-brainer. If you are doing two things at once then you are splitting your intensity between the two. If you can chat to your workout buddy while benching then your intensity is too low.
Set a timer
Set a countdown timer for a short period (10-40 mins). Remember your intensity will start to drop the longer you go. Excellent resource: egg timer.
Arthur Jones advocated taking no rest between sets at the gym. This is called the ‘rush factor’ and was one of Jones’s keys to maximum intensity. If you are working on a computer keep your fingers moving or don’t let the pen leave the paper if you are writing.
While working during the countdown do not allow yourself to stare out of the window, daydream, take a toilet break, or grab a coffee. These will be your rewards when you have finished. Remember, a marathon runner can pick up a drink along his route while a sprinter only has eyes for the finish line.
This is the key that makes 1-4 possible. Lock your door, unplug the phone, put on some noise-canceling headphones, and switch off the email alert, instant messenger, and Twitter. Remove any visual cues for daydreaming from your desk. Strip your chosen workspace until every atom of your attention is focused on the task in front of you.
Somebody wants to ‘beat’ you and work 70-90 hours a week?
Let them. Once you start working in these short, high-intensity bursts with adequate rest periods between, you can walk tall with the knowledge that while you are going flat out they are probably limping around the track.