CrossFit Lake Forest Training Center

The Secret Sauce is Intensity

/>If you have been CrossFitting for any length of time, you have heard the word intensity thrown around quite a bit. However, do you know what intensity means? Do you understand how it relates to your fitness goals and results?

“All positive adaptations come through intensity” – Greg Glassman (CrossFit Founder and CEO)

Intensity is not volume or duration or heart rate or even discomfort. Do more work in less time (without overdoing it), and you’ll get fitter faster. Intensity is your secret sauce.

In CrossFit, we define intensity as force (f) multiplied by distance (x) and divided by time (t). You might have noticed (for you real geeks out there), this is the equation for power (P=f*x/t). When it comes to CrossFit, we treat intensity and power as the same thing. You increase your power output, you increase your intensity. In other words, intensity is a measurement of how much work you did, and the time it took you to do it.

Keep in mind, intensity is a subjective factor in our daily workout routine. It is up to you how hard you want to hit your workout. A hard workout done at 70% intensity yields a less effective result than that same workout done at 100% intensity.

But let’s take a look at the individual pieces that make up “intensity”…

 

Time

This is probably the easiest piece of the equation to understand. We are all familiar (I hope) with the concept of time and how it is measured. When it comes to time in a metcon, I have programmed the workout with a time domain in mind. To complete the WOD longer than this intended domain would change its effectiveness. This concept should help guide you when making the decision on how or if you should scale a workout or if you should go Rx.

For example, I would not advise you to take a workout intended to take 10 minutes and do it in 18+ minutes, just so you can do TTB or use the Rx KB. Now, if doing TTB and going Rx on KB weight is only going to take you 12 minutes, by all means, do it Rx.

Force

A lot of you have the time component down, but need to examine the force portion. Weight on the bar, kettle bell, and wall ball is force (i.e. how much force does it take to move 10 lbs?). Lately, I have been pushing you guys to use heavier kettle bells and do heavier cleans. You hesitate because you know it will get hard as the workout progresses. It should. You want to go as hard and heavy as possible, while still being able to maintain the best form possible, and still finishing around the intended time domain.

If I think your form will break down, I’ll have you take the weight down. However, I don’t care if it will get hard. I don’t care if you have to rest more between sets (as long as it won’t push you outside the intended time domain). Using a heavier weight means you applied more force in the workout, which will yield a higher intensity. If you lose a minute or two, a round or two going heavier, you get more out of your workout than going faster at a weight that isn’t as challenging. You can’t argue with science.

Let’s take a workout like “Grace” for example, 30 Clean and Jerks for time, where both athletes are the exact same size/weight (it’s negligible in the power/intensity equation).

Athlete #1 – 95lbs*1/180 seconds = .528 ft*lbs/sec
Athlete #2 – 135lbs*1/240 seconds = .562 f*lbs/sec

Who had the more “intense” workout? Athlete #2 took a full minute longer, but because they used a heavier weight, their workout was more “intense”.

This concept extends to skill movements. I know a lot of you can do toes-to-bar and double-unders, but don’t do them in a metcon because it would take you longer. It should take you longer. Those are harder, more intense, movements. That is the reason people who scale often finish before people who go RX in workouts with high skill components. Doing high skilled movements adds to the force, and therefore, the intensity of your workout. Taking extra time while adding force increases the overall benefits of the workout, and brings you closer to your goals.

Without Overdoing It.

Without overdoing it. That deserves more than the parenthesis in the opening paragraphs above. Can you come to CrossFit 4+ days a week and hit every workout with 100% intensity. No. However, you can hit every workout with 100% intensity for that day. Just like we can PR (set a personal record) for the day, but cannot necessarily hit our PR (all-time personal record) every time we try. It’s a PR for a reason.

Also, this term “intensity” is relative. What’s intense for one athlete, isn’t the same for another. As we start to increase the weights we use in our workouts, and decrease the time we spend doing them, we are driving that power output higher and higher, still pushing ourselves at a high relative (to ourselves) intensity. This is why CrossFit continues to make people stronger and fitter even after years of training. Intensity is the key!

Applying Intensity

There are two types of people I run across when I talk about CrossFit. The first is the person who wants to try a class, but feel they need to get in shape first. The second is the person who has been CrossFitting, but feel they should improve their CrossFitting by adding running, and additional metcons (usually in the 20+ minute range….).

I’ll address those who want to get fit for CrossFit first. You can’t. From seasoned athletes to gym rats to coach potatoes, all of them are crushed by CrossFit. People need to time and proper coaching to apply the intensity aspect of CrossFit training.

Then there are the people who think the best way to get better at CrossFit is either more CrossFit, to the tune of 3 WODs in a day, or supplementary work that looks vaguely like more WODs. This is tempting to all of us. However, it is also counter productive.

You simply can’t go all out every time. Therefore, you are losing the intensity in 2 out of 3 WODs. As a result, that effort is not helping you get better/fitter, because we already established that to do your best, the secret sauce is intensity. Additionally, our bodies remember what we repeat over and over. If you are slogging through most of your workouts, you are conditioning your body to continue slogging. You are also overworking yourself in that slog so that you do not have intensity for the next day, or even the next couple of days of WODs.

Read here for more about your nervous system, how it rejuvenates, and why that’s important in relation to intensity.

Read here to understand how your fitness improves when you rest.

Read here for proper recovery methods.

Everyone wants the quickest and easiest way to get lean and strong. Fad diets and a million hours on the treadmill are not it. Attack your workouts with everything you have that day, for varying time duration’s, usually (but not always) under twenty minutes. Your quick fix is intensity. It won’t be easy, but it will be worth it.




Request More Information

Cancel

Let us e-mail you this Free Report


Cancel