How often should you workout with HIGH intensity?
When you hear the word CrossFit, intensity might be one of the things that comes right to your mind.
After all, isn’t that what it’s all about?
When CrossFit first started that was the case. They had a character called pukey the clown that was essentially the CF mascot. Every day of training was about seeing how hard you could push yourself… with a badge of honor if you got the point of throwing up.
As the sport of fitness has evolved, we’ve come to the realization that pushing yourself to your limits day in and day out can be more harmful than helpful.
Your risk of injury increases
You’re not able to recover as quickly, leading to overall burnout
It’s not an effective way to get more fit
The issue is, competing can be addicting.
You want to see how much weight you can lift, if you can beat the person next to you in a workout, and see improvements in your workouts every single day. Not to mention, when you first start doing CrossFit you are able to see improvements almost every single day. And when that stops happening, it can be discouraging.
So how much intensity is enough?
We like to group workouts into three categories:
1- Practice. This is where you spend time improving a skill. Whether you’re trying to get better technique during a snatch or you want to get your first kipping pull-up… practice is spent in controlled environments rather than during a Metcon. Your heart rate stays in a low enough zone that you can hone in on your technique.
2- Training. You should be able to stick to quality movement while still maximizing intensity. Emphasis should be on hitting the stimulus of the workout. For instance: if the workout has 10 pull-ups and we tell you it should be something you can hit unbroken, you’re focused on finding something you can do unbroken rather than just being able to hit RX. You finish your workouts breathing heavy, but you’re not finishing the workout rolling around on the floor in pain.
3- Competing. You may spend most of your attention on hitting the RX button, trying to beat the person next to you, and being hyper focused on the leaderboard. Competing can also be with yourself alone by thinking you need to be better every single day.
We like to encourage everyone to spend most of their time TRAINING. This means you’re still doing all of the workouts. You’re still breaking a sweat, getting a good workout in, and improving yourself. The difference is you’re not running yourself into the ground.
Pick 1-2 days a week that you treat like a COMPETE day, and spend the rest of your workouts focused on TRAINING. Fine tune skills by spending time each week PRACTICING.
Make sure you’re listening to the coach about how the workout should feel and that you’re hitting the intended stimulus. There’s a saying “just because you can doesn’t mean you should”.
Become more in tune with your body. Your recovery plays a big role in how much intensity you should be bringing to the table. If you slept like garbage, barely ate anything the day before, and you’re feeling like a small truck ran over you… then it might not be the day to go hard.
At the end of the day, we are working out to improve our lives OUTSIDE of the gym. If you’re always too sore or too broken to do anything else, then what’s the point? Shifting your focus to training for the sake of feeling good and looking good rather than the competitive aspect can mean a much longer lifespan in CrossFit.