As a coach I have the pleasure of watching thousands of different workouts throughout the year. One thing that I notice in a couple different levels of athletes is that their intensity is not as high as it should be. To truly reach our athletic potential and our individual goals we need elevate intensity. This can be done in different ways such as adding weight (the option chosen by most) or moving faster with lighter weight (the option ignored more often). Notice that I didn’t add do more workouts or more volume to the list of increasing intensity. Most athletes don’t need to add more volume to reach higher results. They simply need more intensity. A general rule of thumb to think about for adding volume in your workout is if you competed in the Open and finished in the top 500 RX, you could consider adding some more volume. But even then I would recommend adding more practice first.
For an example on proper intensity let’s look at yesterdays workout. Each of our classes performed the CrossFit Benchmark “Jackie”. For those of you who are not familiar with the workout here it is:
50 Thrusters (45lb bar)
For this workout we place a 10 minute time cap on it. The reason the time cap exists is to guide each athlete to the proper progressions and weight of the bar. The overall goal of Jackie is to complete the row near 80-90% effort, that will elevate your heart rate but not be high enough that you have to slow. When you get to the bar for thrusters (front squat combined with push press) you should be working towards all 50 reps unbroken. Yes, I said 50 unbroken thrusters! It may or may not happen for you but it should be a goal on this workout. After completing the thrusters you head straight to the pull up bar for a quick 30 pull-ups. Top CrossFit Games athletes will spend roughly 40 seconds on the pull-ups in this workout. We want each athlete to choose a weight and pull up scale that would allow them to finish in under 10 minutes. If this workout is going to take you more than 10 minutes it’s time to scale. When we see a CrossFit workout like this our entire focus should be how do we have the highest intensity possible?
What does intensity actually mean? The easiest way to think about intensity is a simple formula that is taught at the CrossFit Level 1 course:
Force*Distance / Time = Power
Power = Intensity
Intensity = Results
More often than not as athletes we get more accustomed to the skills involved in CrossFit they want to increase their volume. The volume is the over amount of work done. More work, longer time, does not equal more intensity. As most gym goers fall deeper in love the sport of CrossFit they begin to take training for the CrossFit Games Open more seriously. They want to perform they absolute best they can over those 5 weeks. To do this, athletes all across country add more workouts, longer workouts, ignore time caps, or if they get time capped they rest and then finish the workout. Here is a stat for all of the endurance junkies that love long grueling 30-60 minute metcons. The longest workout at the 2017 CrossFit games was the Run – Swim – Run event. It was 1 mile – 500m – 1 mile. It took right around 27 minutes to complete. IF we look back at Open workouts we learn that most of those are completed inside of a 12 minute window. Unless we happen to be in the top 1% in the world, then it could move over 15-16 minutes on average. The open is a test to see who has the greatest work capacity. Who can go 95% effort for the longest time period. Each workout ultimately becomes a sprint. If you rest, or try to pace yourself you will find your name slip very quickly down the leaderboard.
So next time you head to the gym I want you to look at the workout you have planned for the day a decide how you can increase your intensity. It may mean using lighter a lighter weight but if you do tell yourself you have to go unbroken, you can rest when your done. What you will find is that you will begin becoming comfortable being uncomfortable and you fitness will increase very quickly. If you’re not sure how to increase you intensity or you think you are already performing at your highest level just ask your coach. I’m sure he/she will be able to give you some great ways to get more intensity out of your daily workout!