The Escalator of IntensityS

Imagine yourself trapped, in a small room, with no fancy accoutrements whatsoever. All you have is yourself. And time. You call out, but no one brings you any Gatorade, let alone Red Bull. You feel like one of those mimes, just moving your hands around and being unpopular. Is this the end of your fitness career? Is there any way out of this trap?

Yes. Just take the escalator. The escalator—of intensity.

"Fitness" in the "hardcore" genre is not about where you go to work out and with what. There are a whole lot of people out there who attend very pricey gyms that stock the very latest fitness equipment and yet, even with the fresh smooth grip of a brand-new barbell and the crisp cool breeze of a state-of-the-art climate control system kissing their gentle skin, they fail miserably at becoming Maximum Hardcore. Why? Why is it that, unlike most everything else in this world—sex, chocolate, collectible figurines—Maximum Hardcore fitness cannot be BOUGHT?

It is because those who would seek to buy their hardcoreness reveal by that desire alone that they lack the only thing that can be used to purchase said hardcoreness: intensity.

Take away your fancy gym. Take away your "Lululemon" outfit and expensive ExercycleStairmasterBowFlexHammerStrength machines and definitely take away the little thing that you use to tie your iPhone to your upper arm as you work out, like a dork. It's just you in a room with some old dirty clothes on, that's it. The average person will, at this point, find themselves bereft. "How do I do my precious workout now?" they'll exclaim in a simpering manner, eyes casting about desperately for a yoga mat or Jazzercise instructress. "I guess I can't do my workout at all," they'll sigh—secretly glad. For they lack the one thing that they could have taken with them to this ascetic imprisonment: intensity.

With intensity, you are never without a workout. A workout that can usher you to the promised land of hardcoreness. Prison inmates locked in tiny rooms have successfully transformed themselves into physical monsters since time immemorial, thanks to intensity. Stuck in a room in which you can nearly touch all four walls by turning around? Do some burpees. One burpee too easy? Do five. Do ten. Do twenty. Do fifty. As you ride the escalator of intensity, even the most pedestrian physical tasks can become pain festivals that surpass any old "Tough Mudder" corporate team-building retreat. Stand on one leg. Easy? Now hop up and down. Now hop up and down on one leg for five minutes straight. Now pretend that you are standing on a pillar and there's lava all around you and you have to hop up and down on one leg on the pillar for twenty minutes or you die. Not so easy any more. If you collapse due to muscle spasms in your hoppin' leg, good: this is what intensity feels like.

Run a sprint. Now stop. Now run it again. Now run it again with less rest in between. Now run two back to back without rest. Now run it on all fours in a bear crawl position. Now long jump for the entire length of a sprint. Now somersault the entire length. Now run it uphill. You may reflect, as you vomit, that there are an endless number of iterations that any simple physical task can take in order to make it more hardcore. You need only apply intensity. Only have a puny ten pound dumbbell? Lift it overhead one hundred times. Now do it while squatting. Now sprint at top speed, stop, lift your weight a hundred times, and sprint back. Now lift it two hundred times. You will find that it does not feel so puny any more. This is the magical feeling of intensity. It burns.

Think doing something is easy? Well keep doing it until you throw up. NOW how easy is it??? Smart guy???

Whenever you hear someone bragging how easy they find some workout task to be, what they are really saying is, "I have failed to apply sufficient intensity to this task." Virtually any exercise can be made more intense by any or all of the following methods: A) Do it faster; B) Do it with shorter rest breaks; C) Do it with heavier weight; D) Do more reps of it; E) Do more sets of it; F) All of the above. There should never, ever come a time in your workout career when you say, "I got this," as if you had this workout whipped, covered, no sweat. It must always be hard. If it is not hard, you are failing to apply intensity. You are not doing the workout that you should be doing. You are doing the workout of a lesser person. You should not be bragging about this; you should be ashamed.

Stop pussyfooting around the tiger enclosure. Take a ride on The Escalator of Intensity. The ride is metaphorical. But the pain is all too real. (As are the muscular and cardiovascular benefits.)