Intensity Over Volume

Intensity Over Volume

Hundreds of articles have been written about this topic yet people STILL believe that more work will result in better performance.

I’ve always wondered why some people feel the need to do extra cardio after finishing the daily workout. My conclusion is that it comes down to one simple reason, which may sound harsh, and that’s cheating.

I’m not saying anybody cheated on reps, or on the movement standards (we already know who they are!), I mean you cheated yourself.

If you are able to get up after a workout, no matter if it’s a 3 minute sprint or a 30 minute chipper, and go for a run or proceed to do 30 x 30:30 on the assault bike then you have 100% cheated yourself. You simply have not pushed as hard as you could have and trained to your optimal intensity.

Three weeks ago seven coaches took on the assault bike challenge; complete 1,000 calories as fast as possible. We finished in 25 minutes with each of us completing a grand total of 6 x 30 second max efforts each and with 3 minutes rest between – easy, right?!

Afterwards, two of us (myself included) were physically sick and the gym looked like a scene from a disaster movie with bodies everywhere. It took 30 minutes before we finally recovered enough to crawl up to our feet. After just 3 minutes of work in a 25 minute period. This is intensity.

The truth about successful training is that intensity and being smart win over volume every time. CrossFit is defined as ‘functional movements performed at high intensity ‘NOT ‘ moderate intensity so I can do a bit more late’.

I have seen people at the end of a 15 – 20 min AMRAP continue to do reps because they wanted to finish the round… Well, sorry, but that’s bullshit.

If you’ve worked for 20 mins, as hard as you possibly can, then that last minute will feel like hell. If you’ve got enough energy left in the tank to carry on after the time cap then you simply have not gone hard enough.

Take last year’s Open workout 16.1. It was a 20min AMRAP of walking lunges, burpees over the bar and chest to bar pull ups. The last 8 minutes of that workout felt like the longest 8 minutes of my life. Part of my brain was saying ‘I wish that clock would go faster even if I get a shit score‘ another part was saying ‘so what if I lose, it’s ok‘. It’s at this point where you can choose to slow down, and lose the intensity, or you can push as hard as your body will physically allow. Here lies the difference between getting better, and not. (Read more hereCentral Governor Theory).

It’s not just those long workouts either. If you have ever had the (dis)pleasure of tackling the CrossFit benchmark test ‘Fran’ (21-15-9 thrusters and pullups) you will appreciate that, when done properly, at around thruster 9 or 10 in the first round you will begin to question all of your life decisions. But the people who become better are the ones that can not only ignore the voices in their head, but fight against them.

One CrossFit Games athlete summed it up perfectly by saying that 60 mins at 90% intensity is far better than 90mins at 60% intensity. This is absolutely true.

I could go on all day about this topic, and it leads on to another very easily, but it is so important to remember that each of us are at different levels of fitness. Each of us are better at some things than others. So I’m not saying that you have to ‘win‘ every workout. If you give it your all and still finish after your mate then that’s perfectly fine, never worry about what others are doing. Just ensure that you work to your own level of intensity. You will have good days and bad days, and that’s absolutely okay.

So the next time you walk into the gym, enter with a purpose. Enter with a purpose of hitting the daily workout, no matter what it is, as hard as you possibly can, and make it the best hour of your day. I guarantee you will leave feeling much more satisfied and excited to come back the next day, and we will be just as excited to see you.

To support this article, check out EPOC (excess post-exercise oxygen) and why physiologically speaking, intensity beats volume hands down.

 

By: Ben Davies, InnerFight Performance Coach

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