Dancing With the Stars

J.R. Martinez: Pressure Is Mounting on Dancing with the Stars

10/11/2011 at 05:30 PM EDT

Life as a contestant on Dancing with the Stars doesn't get any easier as the show moves into its fourth week, says All My Children's J.R. Martinez.

"You're getting deeper into the competition. It's a lot different than week one and week two," he told PEOPLE after Monday night's performances, which showcased dances set to movie scores.

Martinez, an Iraq war vet who memorably brought the ballroom to tears with a rumba last week, said the show's rigorous training regime leaves little time to take a breather.

"Now we're in week four, and it's Wednesday morning ... you come back and guess what, you're learning something brand new," he says. "You have no time to actually get the brain to decompress and be prepared for the next day, for the next dance."

And he's not the only one feeling it.

"The pressure is just starting to kick in and you're seeing a lot of people now starting to be like, 'Oh, man, okay, this is becoming a lot,' " he says.

"It's tough. It's not easy. I don't think a lot of people understand, even myself. I don't really understand how difficult it is to prepare all week for one night to show America what you've been working on and then if you're safe, the following day you go right back into learning the next dance. Your mind and your body doesn't have time to recover."

Martinez and his partner, Karina Smirnoff, face the results on Tuesday's elimination show (9 p.m. ET) on ABC.

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