Intensity Written by Ryan Bolles CrossFit has distinguished itself from many training programs by understanding the laws of physics and applying them to strength and conditioning training. Specifically, CrossFit is concern with Power (P) output. The equation for determining Power output is as follows: P=F*d. F=Force, or in our case weight; d=distance and t=time. Therefore, if we move a weight over a known distance for a known amount of time we can determine the power output of a workout. (Hence, the use of a stopwatch.) Coach Glassman, the founder of CrossFit, makes the argument that in training, Intensity is exactly equal to Power. He also makes the assertion that, “intensity is the independent variable most commonly associated with optimizing return.” In other words, the more intense your workout, the faster we will see loss of fat and an increase in strength and muscle mass. (Women, fear not, you are not going to develop huge bulging muscles. Unless, you take steroids.) While this concept applies to all athletes, intensity is relative to the individual. Deconditioned and professional athletes alike need to participate in intense workouts if they are to optimize their time in the gym. However, a 225lb overhead squat performed by an elite athlete and a PVC pipe overhead squat done by a novice athlete can result in the same intensity level relative to the individual. Each athlete can be equally taxed while still using differing weights. Athletes need to understand that CrossFit is programmed with this concept in mind. Although there is a prescribed workout it must be scaled if the intensity level will be sacrificed. If an athlete is physically capable of squatting 225 lbs but only five times, and the workout prescribes a repetition scheme of 21-15-9, the athlete must lower the weight. While it may be possible for 225 lbs to be used with long rest periods, the intensity level will suffer. We will see better results with less weight since the exercise can be performed faster. Having Rx’d written next to your name on the white board might make you feel good about your effort. However, taking 30:00 to accomplish a workout that should be complete in 5:00 is actually detrimental to reaching elite fitness levels. Just as the intensity level is relative to each individual, so is scaling. Coaches are your best source of information to determine what and how you should scale a specific workout. We will not scale workouts up. If you think the weight is too light, rest less and go faster. Please leave comments, concerns and questions. Credit for this article goes to CrossFit XLR8 from their post on 3/21/10.