Monday, May 17, 2010


 Aimee Lyons of Crossfit King of Prussia pulls a PR deadlift: 280# (over 2x bodyweight)

I had the fortune of going to the CrossFit Central East Regional competition in Logan, Ohio just over a week ago. I was also able to judge, which put me right in the middle of all of the action. Going to competitions always wakes me up to the INTENSITY that come pouring out of competitors. They literally put their blood, sweat, and tears into competing, and it's just an incredible sight to see. I recently talked about Chasing the Rx'd, where I recommended scaling to keep the stimulus of a workout. Now, I'm here to tell you to CHALLENGE yourself to be even more intense than before.

All of the "good stuff" that you probably want can be found in intensity. Fat loss, strength gains, better mobility, speed, agility, endurance, power, etc. are all gleaned from intense workouts. You want to be better at CrossFit? Be intense. You want to be better at your sport? Be intense. You want to be better at life? Be intense.You want to be a better mother/father/sister/brother/son/daughter? Be intense.

Men's 4th WOD at Regionals: this is the end of 50 box jumps, 40 kb swings, 30 burpees, 20 sandbag cleans, 10 db presses, 20 sandbag cleans, 30 burpees, 40 kb swings, 50 box jumps. These guys are crazy fit, but still working hard!!

Once we have Mechanics and Consistency down, we can move on to Intensity. Remember, Intensity equals Power. If we write out the equation, Power = [(Force x Distance)/Time]. Looking at it from a strictly mathematical standpoint, we can increase our overall power by making the numerator (force or distance) BIGGER or the denominator (time) SMALLER.  In other words, to increase intensity, we can:
-DECREASE TIME: This is probably the first thing that comes to mind - going faster. This is why we time workouts. Doing the same amount of work in a shorter amount of time means you are fitter. Try to have a good idea of what your time should be and do everything you can to be faster. If you're able to chat during a workout, you're not being intense enough. (even on slow lift days, I want you reeling from that PR you just lifted). Run faster, don't take as many breaks, if you do take breaks, keep them short. Keep moving! You might perceive yourself moving quickly, but there's a reason everyone watching is saying "move it! move it!" Pick a "rabbit," someone that is just ahead of you and CHASE them. Let them be your pace car and then zoom by them at the end. If you workout alone, videotape yourself and you'll be surprised at perception vs. reality.
-INCREASE LOAD: A PR on a max deadlift is pretty darn intense. Go for the 35# kb instead of the 26.5# kb. Use a thinner band for your pullups. Scale UP if you are already Rx'ing. Wear a weight vest (like a certain Swine does for every one of his workouts). You're not going to get that elusive Rx if you don't use the darn weight! Just make sure you have Mechanics and Consistency down. (If there is a 95# squat snatch in a workout, but you've never done a squat snatch, use a weight that is light enough to complete the movement, even if it's PVC.)
-INCREASE DISTANCE: jump on a higher box, run a little longer, climb a higher rope, carry those dumbbells another lap. Do a squat snatch instead of a power snatch, squat clean instead of power clean, etc. Be careful with this criteria since it can also increase time significantly.
1. if you are working on a skill or range of motion, do the full movement until you fail and then scale. For instance, if you have a workout of 3 rounds and each round has 10 pushups, do as many full pushups as you can until failure. Then go to your knees to complete the workout and keep moving. This will work on your strength, but still keep you moving through the workout without any significant breaks. Same can go for pullups (do unassisted first, then banded), ring dips, handstand pushups, etc.
2. Even if a workout doesn't have a particular movement you should be working on, come 5 minutes early or stay 5 minutes late to get in some pullups, play with the dumbbells or do some GHD situps. The people I've seen succeed the most have been the people who spend just a little bit of extra time before and after class to work on things. Get a pullup bar at home and every time you walk by it, hang on the bar, do a pullup, etc. Every day you wake up, do 20 pushups. Get a broomstick and work on those OHSs!
3. If you are increasing your load or distance, you need to play that fine line of keeping your time within reason. I'm ok with you getting a slightly slower time if you increased your weight. But you also should not have a 15 minute Fran since the point of the WOD is to be devastated at the end of it.Talk to your coach or look on the message boards for advice on what the stimulus of the workout should be.

Kerry from CF KoP pulls 300#. A 50# PR? Now that's INTENSE!

Sure, not everyone is going to be competing in the CrossFit Games, or even the Sectionals. But that doesn't mean you should avoid intensity. While I can't read everyone's minds, I'm willing to bet you are doing CrossFit for one of those reasons listed above as the "good stuff." And remember, to get to that "good stuff" we need to be intense relative to ourselves. There is no excuse because we can always push ourselves to go faster, increase load, or increase distance. If you move from a 5# kb to a 10# kb, that is being more intense. Whether you're a soccer mom who is doing CrossFit recreationally or a soccer mom who is a CrossFit Gamer, (because soccer moms span the spectrum) you need to find ways to challenge yourself. What I'm trying to say is, don't be complacent with the status quo because as CrossFitters/husbands/wives/children/friends, that's just not what we do. The CrossFit Games motto is "The only way to win is to do more work faster." You may not be in it to "win," but I bet you want to be "better," so for the general CrossFitter, I would change the motto to "The only way to be better is to do more work faster."

How do you find motivation to be intense?
What are some ways you crank up the intensity?


  1. Awesome post man, thanks

    -seth p

  2. love this post, CP. and somehow your posts are always timely for me. i am still playing around with pushing more weight vs. trying to go faster vs. doing a new move with complete and correct ROM. i am never totally sure what to push for in any given WOD, so i am always asking for advice before we start. i love the intensity of crossfit, and it's amazing how much motivation i take just from watching others in the box. i often have a rabbit and i love to be matched with someone who is similar to my pace or a little stronger so i can't slack. finally, nothing works quite so well as having another xfitter in my face. i push myself hard but never harder than when someone is watching me and screaming at me not to drop the bar.


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