There’s magic in CrossFit, have you noticed that yet? I was asked the other day how it’s possible that working out for 10 min in a day can make you in better shape. How is that possible when everything you know says to be constantly moving for over an hour? Yes it’s true.
It is possible to get in the best shape of your life in less time. That magic ingredient is called Intensity. It takes people who can barely get off the couch and transforms them into jacked unicorns. Intensity is a measurable factor, it’s Power: force multiplied by distance divided by time. To state that simply: Intensity is doing more work faster.
This doesn’t come easy for some, the idea of doing more work when all you want to do is rest, that’s a hard concept. Let’s take a look at Fran the popular CrossFit benchmark workout we completed recently (21-15-9 thursters (95/63) and pull-ups). Fran is a great workout to drive intensity if done correctly. It’s a workout that should be completed in under 7 minutes. Pushing the intensity of this workout means scaling the weight we use for most of us. Maintaining a constant push through the entire series of movements, if you need to break up a set, that rest period should be for no more than 5 seconds. Intensity is, as Coach Greg Glassman states “learning to be comfortable, being uncomfortable”.
Intensity drives favorable adaptation of the human body. Simply put intensity is what makes you a jacked unicorn! Let’s dive a little deeper though and chat about the do’s and don’ts of pushing your threshold. In order to get good at increasing intensity you first need to make sure your form is dialed in and solid. The workouts that are less technical (i.e. body weight movements) are a great time to test intensity. The goal is to keep pushing even when you want to stop. When you do reach that point where you need a break, it’s short and precise. You count to 5 in your head, collect your breath and you’re back in the WOD. The goal is NOT to go out so hard you can’t recover, that actually causes the workout to loose it’s intensity and its intended purpose.
A great way to achieve this intensity level is by scaling the workout. If a workout calls for 21-15-9 of 135 lb back squat and burpees, and your squat one rep max is at 200 lbs, this would be a great opportunity to scale. You could do the workout at 95 lbs and really push the intensity. Try to do the set of 21 in 2 sets and try not stopping through the burpees. This will push you to a new level verses doing this workout Rx and having to rest for 5 min of it because it’s too heavy. The latter approach makes this workout an aerobic endeavor and slows your progress to becoming a jacked unicorn.
Each workout programmed is your chance to give it everything you’ve got. We see a little too often people not giving their all in a workout, hanging out at the chalk bucket, taking a long walk to their water bottles and thus not seeing the changes that they want to see. Form, consistency, THEN intensity will get you where you want to be.