I’m sitting here in Italy and it’s raining so I have a bit of time on my hands and of course I’m thinking about Crossfit as it is one of my most favourite pastimes. The question on my mind is how to maximize my results or what is the best way to make improvements. I’ve been thinking about this for a few hours throwing ideas out there, thinking about them, and then rejecting them. There are four things that time and time again pop out at me as the way to best improve my fitness. Recovery, Nutrition, Deficiencies (what I suck at ie. situps), and INTENSITY, all of which I’ll try to write a post on. This post will be on the aspect of intensity because in my mind it is the clear leader in maximizing my results. When thinking about intensity and how it relates to my workouts I looked at a few things. First, what is intensity? The answer is Power! (Intensity = Power), and therefore to increase intensity I have to increase power which basically means doing more work in less time (more pushups in 2min, or 50 pushups in less time than the last time I did it). Now this is all a physical definition of intensity there is also a mental definition which is a perception of the level of exertion. But I have come to the conclusion that by maximizing the physical you will definitely maximize the mental. When doing say 100 pullups the question becomes, should I breaking it up into manageable chunks or go for broke ie. balls out! till I max out and die off. It is my thought that you should always go balls out on any task that fits in the anaerobic arena (phosphogenic and glycolytic pathways). The time frame for workouts that take less than ~10min require that you go as hard as possible the whole way through.(author side note: these workouts are composed of components which require only ~30s - 1min to perfom and therefore are at the peak power position of the glycolytic pathway. It’s not 10min on one excercise). Most people take too much rest during the workout. Taking a 15 sec break will not give you enough rest to make up the 5sec that you wasted when 10 sec rest would have been enough. When you go for broke it is better to minimize the rest that is needed and go right back into the exercise. This requires an enormous amount of mental intensity to push your body when it wants nothing more than to just stop doing everything. It is my opinion that when you break the exercise or workout into chunks you spend more time then you actually need resting. When I go balls out I know at the end of the workout I could not have gone any faster, when I break it up I usually finish and go I should have done 15’s instead of 10’s. Mentally it is easier to break things up because it is physically easier to not have to continuously push through the pain. A great quote from the legendary OPT on the subject relating to which is better for improving work capacity:
“…Go as hard as possible, all the time, under perfect form and if you break a little bit on intensity throughout then, that’s fine that can be fixed, but I’d rather see intensity first. When people start strategizing, they immediately get into pacing and when you pace you don’t push and when you don’t push you don’t create power. If you don’t create power you don’t create success, long term. So if you are strategizing I’d suggest drop it and focus on basically just hitting the workout as hard as you can and managing the pain when you do get into it and then getting out of it you’ll feel a whole lot better…”
-James FitzGerald “OPT” on Crossfit Radio - episode 27 (Jan. 30, 2009)
The more intensity you bring to the workout the more “intense” it will be and the fitter you will become. As Coach Glassman says “Intensity is where the good stuff comes from. It is almost always the independent variable most commonly associated with favourable adaptations.” It will maximizing your results and greatly improves your fitness level.
*Note: Intensity is relative to the individual and their abilities, don’t kill yourself! Just go as hard as you reasonably can. I’m an idiot and try to push myself to the extreme, but hey I’ll crush you at almost any workout!