Don’t Turn Up The Volume
“Be impressed with intensity, not volume.” This famous quote by Greg Glassman, the founder of CrossFit, has always resonated with me. It’s why we program the way we do here at CrossFit Virilis. Think back to what you used to do at the gym. You would go in maybe do some cardio for 30 minutes at a manageable pace, then maybe target a specific muscle group for 45 minutes to an hour. If you felt up for it, you would throw in some extra ab work for 15 to 20 minutes. All in all you were at the gym for over an hour usually. People prided themselves on it. I can remember the conversations many of us used to have bragging about how long we would be in the gym. And for what? Mediocre results. Some muscle mass, a decent amount of flab still, and likely no real ability to run more than a mile at a comfortable pace without getting out of breath.
Volume was king and there was no disputing that. If you wanted more results you had to spend more time working out. Then CrossFit came around. And they said, “Intensity is king, not volume.” And we were all amazed. You mean I can get BETTER results by spending LESS time in the gym? Too good to be true. But it was. By attacking workouts with a time element (finishing as quickly as possible) results began to skyrocket for people when coupled with the right diet.
Then, the CrossFit Games came around. And major athletes started working out for HOURS every day. They would perform multiple sessions every day. They would start the day with lifting or some long endurance piece and would follow it up with the now traditional couplet or triple in the afternoon. So, naturally the rest of the CrossFit community began thinking this was the way to superior results. Affiliates began programming a lifting piece followed by a conditioning piece almost every day. Volume was back! But, what happens when you take someone who is only used to doing workouts that last 10-15 minutes max and have them say run a 5k? They fail.
We got away from intensity again for one reason and one reason only. It sucks. It hurts a lot and it’s uncomfortable. So how do we make sure we don’t experience that suck for that long? We keep workouts short. God forbid we do a workout that lasts 30 minutes. Hell, in most affiliates 20 minutes is considered a long workout. But, we cannot forget that you will always “fail at the margins of your experience.” Which is to say, if you haven’t done it, you’re likely going to fail.
If you want more work, do the same work you did better and faster next time. Plain and simple.