So here’s the thing about Intensity…
By CrossFit Black Bear | September 29, 2016
Intensity. In today’s fitness industry Intensity has simply become a buzzword. People use it to describe all sorts of workouts and claim that the more intense their particular program or system is, the better. I am here to clear the air a little bit around the ethos of Intensity.
Consider this: If you are building a house, would you build the entire house using only a hammer, or would you use a combination of hammers, saws, ladders, etc? Of course you would use a combination!
In it’s most basic form, intensity is simply a tool you can use to build your body.
In the same way a hammer will help you drive nails while a saw will split a piece of wood, high Intensity will expend larger amounts of energy in a shorter period of time, while lower Intensity will help improve your aerobic capacity over a longer time domain. Each of these have their benefits and incorporating both will help build a body that is healthy and strong.
Now that we have established that Intensity is simply one single tool in our arsenal, and not the be-all-end-all of working out, what exactly is it?
Intensity is a percentage of maximum power.
So, higher Intensity means you are expending a higher percentage of your maximum power output, while lower means you are expending a lower percentage of your maximum power. So the next logical question becomes…what the hell is power?
Power = Amount of Work/Period of Time
That is…power is moving weight (whether that is an external weight, or simply your bodyweight) a particular distance (repetitions) in a certain period of time.
That means there are three different components that factor into Intensity. They are:
Amount of weight
So to adjust your level of Intensity one of these three factors will change. In order to increase your level of Intensity you could increase the weight, increase the distance you move that weight (more repetitions), or decrease the time period in which that weight is moved.
Intensity should be used simply as a piece of a workout program. It is not possible to work at maximum capacity for prolonged periods of time without providing your body adequate rest. Our bodies are great adaptive tools but they do need time to recover. Whether in the middle of a workout or a weekly workout program, there needs to be the proper balance of rest and Intensity.
How do you find this balance, you may ask? Get a coach! At CrossFit Black Bear we work with individuals from all backgrounds to build the right program that will balance the correct level of Intensity both from a weekly view, all the way down to the proper level of Intensity for each individual workout.
A special note on Intensity: To reiterate, Intensity is a percentage of maximum power. This means it is a very personalized and individual metric. Since every individual has their own maximum, while the percentages may be the same, how those percentages look will vary. A healthy individual may have the capacity to go very hard at a maximum level of power output, however someone with a history of health issues may only be able to output a lower level of power due to a multitude of limiting issues. It may not seem like this individual is working as hard as the healthy individual however because Intensity is simply a percentage of your maximum, they are in fact working at an equivalent level of Intensity.