Go hard or go home!
Relax. The harder you train does not mean the more you will build muscle. Nor will it be best for your physical health if your form is sloppy and you cannot establish control.
When you are deciding training intensity, you need to think about how fit you currently are, what your goals are, where you are in your training and how much control you have over your movement. If you go too hard too soon, you will be prone to injury and will need longer rest periods between each training session, delaying your overall progress.
How to choose Exercise Intensity for a New Movement
Ultimately speaking, you need to train hard to build real, definitive muscle. It requires putting forth effort, pushing past your previous limits, and inevitably feeling muscle fatigue. You do this once you have mastered a movement and developed something called motor memory.
In the initial stages of your training, take your time with light to moderate intensity weights. This means choosing a weight you can do 8-15 reps with. When you are developing a movement pattern, your body will facilitate a process called myelination. This is where your central nervous system will wire itself to help complete a desired action.
This myelination (wiring), takes many reps to facilitate successfully and will ultimately lead you to completing exercises repetitively in a predictable way. This process will also connect your central nervous system to more of your muscle fibers, leading you to perform stronger movements naturally. This process is what they call motor memory.
Like I said previously, this myelination requires reps. Stick with a lighter weight in the beginning, facilitate more reps and in time increase the weight (intensity). Once you have done this, you will be on track to lifting more weight successfully and safely at higher intensities (for lower reps), leading to further strength gains.
How do I know I have achieved motor memory?
This is a great question. This process continues our whole lives when we practice a new movement. But you will notice the most change in the first 2 weeks. You will naturally become stronger quickly because you are simply connecting more to your muscles and developing tracts in your central nervous system. When increasing intensity even regardless of myelination, we want to stick to a maximum of a 10% change every 2 weeks. This will safely progress our movements and develop strength effectively.
If you feel you need to connect more to your body and need help learning a movement, have a look at KA’s programs below and consider Online Personal Training where plans are designed to keep you one step ahead.
All the best,