Intensity 101…A Step by Step Plan

Thrusters with INTENSITY

OK, OK…we’ve all been there, you approach a set of 20, and plan out your mini sets prior to starting. “4 sets of 5…oh sh*t…scratch that, 5 x 4 instead…” I mean who cares??? I did my 20 reps right??

Coach is just yelling to yell, it’s what he is here for…it’s just random instruction and I got a workout in.

Well I don’t blame anyone if they don’t want to believe me…therefore I brought my friend “CrossFit” with me to crack an egg of knowledge on you.

Coming straight from a community that has been working with this brand of FITness for years, the CrossFit prescription is “constantly varied, high-intensity, functional movement.”

-The constantly varied is easy, just look at the board every day.

Functional movements may not be as obvious, but it’s just the fact that the movements you go through during class will apply to your daily life whether you know it or not. But what is this “Intensity”?

Again letting the CrossFit model speak for itself, “Intensity is defined exactly as power, and intensity is the independent variable most commonly associated with maximizing favorable adaptation to exercise.”

Why do I care again??
“Because compound or functional movements and high intensity is radically MORE EFFECTIVE at eliciting nearly any desired fitness result,” says CrossFit.

Why I am letting CrossFit making me sound smarter than I am? Because just like you don’t work out just work out…we don’t coach, just to coach. We want results and the fastest way to those very results? You guessed it… “Intensity”.

Being intense doesn’t mean you have to load up the bar with 500 pounds and grunt your way through a back squat.

Being intense also doesn’t mean you have the fastest time possible.

Even if you can’t currently perform a full body squat due to flexibility limitations, you can still be intense.

Instead of cranking out 20 as fast as you can at a comfortable depth, let’s eat a few seconds and get 1 centimeter deeper with each squat with our chest up, weight in our heels…all that good stuff. So here my form recognition was more intense, maybe tomorrow you can be more mentally intense.

When you approach that set of 20 you say “here we go, AMRAP this round”, this time you crank out 8 reps…well hitting 8 versus a predetermined 5 is more intense. It was nothing magical, it’s something everyone is capable of doing this TODAY.

Heck…you hear coaches talk about “Unbroken” go for it. Take a couple extra seconds before starting a set, get your breath and try and do the full 20 without stopping. Mix it up and maybe go a little heavier with the weight one day, or maybe be more vocal during the WOD while encouraging other athletes suffering at your side. If you haven’t picked up on it, intensity = results. Why do you think some WOD’s are less than 10 minutes? Because when done at high intensity, it will yield better results than an hour of the same exercises done without intensity.

Being intense doesn’t mean you have to or should sacrifice technique and range of motion. Nor does it mean we should be nazis about it. Finding that balance is what we will work on every day you step into the box. Think long term, it would be great to have a little faster time tomorrow, but most of us are merely training for life. So I don’t care if your Fran time is 2:00, or 20:00…be intense and get those down to 1:58 and 19:58, a PR is a better you. How do I PR??? Intensity my friend.

This is also a reason we encourage rest days… if you don’t, you will lose intensity, that is just the way it is. NO ONE…and I do mean NO ONE, is immune to this. If you train everyday…you need an intensity reality check, and will delay results. Remember CrossFit is observable, measureable and repeatable. Check your journals, check your PR’s (Personal Records). Don’t take my word for it…the proof is in the paleo pudding. CrossFit is open source and doesn’t pretend to hide its methods…we don’t make this stuff up.

Anyhow…find a way to be more intense…give CFSF that and we can promise results and will leave you setting new, higher goals both at the box and out.

Forging Elite Fitness.

Yours truly,


9 Responses to “Intensity 101…A Step by Step Plan”

  1. Laura LD DeHaan Says:

    Nice post matty b!!!! I think we are all guilty at times of not working out to our max intensity. This is the main reason I crossfit. There is NO WAY I would work out as hard on my own. I need the coaches pushing me to my max ( Thanks Annie). and I need fellow crossfitters kicking butt right next to me…. my goal after this post is to work on more unbroken reps 😉

    • MattyB "FTS" Says:

      Thx LD! Really appreciate the post, awesome to see you now hunting some unbroken sets. Can’t wait to coach ya and push you through it.

  2. Awesome post (even the 2nd time around 😉 ) A lot of people do lose sight of this whole concept. If it’s a short met-con/WOD, some people think, “oh, that wasn’t very long, I need to do more.” In reality, if you ever get done with something and feel that way, you should have gone harder (more intense)…More intensity doesn’t alway mean ‘faster,’ as Matt alluded to. When we increase the range of motion and squat deeper, or add weight to a power clean, we increase the intensity by that same amount.

    As Matt said, If you take care of that end, you will not only have results on paper, but your body will soon thank you for it!

    • MattyB "FTS" Says:

      Amen brother…I think if peeps would just pick a WOD and sellout, they would see its possible. And that confidence will simply take you places.

  3. Great Post FTS!!! I think intensity is the key to changing body compostition and it’s where the “magic” happens. I try to push myself to the limit every workout to the point that I can’t speak and it hurts to move! I made a rule for myself everytime my brain tells me no or don’t pick up the bar I pick it up and that has really helped my “intensity push”!

    • MattyB "FTS" Says:

      Word up…there is no doubt you posses an intense fight. I think you have access to a rare 7th gear. I think we can all agree its that intensity that got you were you wanted to be.

  4. Chris Mello Says:

    Great post FTS! It is a fine line of pushing hard with the right amt of weight/resistence (not too light and not too heavy). You make a ton of great points.

    I find personally the WODs completed in under 10 min leave me in the fetal position with my forearms screaming for mercy and the rest of my body puking on the inside:-0

    The WODs that are 20min + is more of a mental game and teaching all of us to continue to push when your body is fatigued.

    Bottom line intensity gets it done and this post spells it out!

    Thx Coach FTS!

  5. matty your responses to everyone’s comment- crack me up – great post!

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