Intensity is basically defined in training as how hard you work during a workout. Typically, functional fitness and CrossFit workouts are primarily based off of high intensity workouts. The harder you work, the better your gains. We’ve previously covered a great article on understanding intensity – read it for a deeper understanding into intensity and better gains.
In this feature we note great facts about intensity, giving you insight into what makes intensity such a driving factor in how you perform and the results you see from your training.
Intensity is Relative
Relative intensity basically just means that we don’t all have to do the exact same thing in order to get the same results. To use an example, if two people do the same workout, at the same weight, for the same amount of time and reps, etc., but one walks away from it barely out of breath and the other in lying in a pool of his own sweat and is utterly shattered – who had the better workout? The person lying on the floor benefitted the most from that workout, because they needed to push harder to get through it. Scaling means that you either increase or decrease the load, distance/reps, or movement in order to suit you and for your relative intensity, so if it’s either to hard or complex or to easy, then scale up or down appropriately in order to see better gains.
Relative Intensity Can Be Increased
Just because you’re at a certain level now, does not mean you will stay there forever. Intensity and your relative intensity can be learned an increased. If you do a certain workout now compared to how do did it a year ago, you’ll likely note a drastic change in performance. An easy way to show this is by using a scale of 1-10. 1 is like warming up and stretching, while 10 is a dark place you don’t want to go to often. In order to consistently see gains in your performance, you need to spend as much time closer to 8 or 9 as possible. You also need to include constantly varied training, like seen in CrossFit, to get an idea of what different levels of intensity are and how your body reacts to them.
Know Your Intensity
Not every workout takes you to the peak of your intensity, like at 10. In fact, very few will. Sprinting 100m, doing snatch or clean and jerk, those often take you close to your max. Running a 10km might mean that you run at less than half of your max intensity, but all of these workouts can leave you shattered afterwards. Get to know yourself and understand what your max is and how to apply a relative level of your intensity for any given workout so that your only goal is to push yourself throughout that workout so that is makes you work hard.
Rest and Recovery Help Intensity
It is vital that you rest, recover and use active recovery as part of your regular training program. Going all out all of the time will lead you down a dangerous path of bad form, loss of performance and gains, and importantly it could see you injure yourself. Rest helps you maintain higher levels of intensity when you do workout, so make sure it is a regular part of your routine.
You Have to Push
Because you understand intensity, you should know that the only real way to see gains is to keep your relative intensity high for whatever workout you’re doing. It’s ok to have off days where you just don’t have it in you to push hard, as usual, but for the most part you need to give it your best shot for every workout. If you slack off and don’t, you simply won’t get the results you want. What is also a truth about intensity is that our bodies are often capable of a lot more than we think – try pushing yourself even when your mind is telling you to give up, you’ll surprise yourself and you will see better gains and grow your performance results quicker.