One of the hallmark phrases of CrossFit coined by Coach Greg Glassman is, “Be impressed by intensity, not volume.” I was thinking of how true this phrase is two weeks ago before the end of the world struck us. In the gym, we did a workout that I believe most, if not all of us, underestimated. It was max set of toes to bar, max set of ring dips, max set of broad jumps (three attempts each) and a 2k row. Workouts like this really drive the true impact of that phrase home.
This idea that we constantly need to make workouts harder or do them as prescribed is a mistake. When doing workouts with multiple movements the idea is to stay moving and finish the effort as quickly as possible. However, certain rep schemes and combinations of movements demand random rest periods. If we have a workout that has a short running effort followed by a few rope climbs and something else, it’s understood that you’re going to take a break before climbing the rope. Sure, you’re still trying to finish the effort as quickly as possible but you have to game it a bit.
In that workout two weeks ago, there was no way to game that. If you wanted a good score, you had to push it. You had to hold on for dear life on that row and just gut through it.
That’s intensity. There’s no gaming. There’s no strategy. It’s just how bad are you willing to push yourself. That’s where the results are. We should strive to make all workouts feel that way. I’m not impressed with an RX on “Helen” if it took you 20 minutes. Making things harder by doing a bodyweight movement we’re not yet ready for or doing weights we can’t handle is a mistake. You need to make the workout digestible enough, shall we call it, that it challenges you, but you’re able to hit it without a gameplan. Intensity is the real golden ticket we should all be after and that only comes with faster times. The strength will come. The awareness to perform more complex bodyweight movements will come. Those things come about through more practice though. The only time you can get intensity is during the workout and if you’re constantly making things harder, you’re missing the boat twice.
“Be impressed by intensity, not volume.”
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