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Impress Me With Intensity

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Impress Me With Intensity

By Coach Manny Alayon

About a year ago I read a really cool article that has had a pretty powerful impact on me. It featured the founder of CrossFit, Greg Glassman, and in the article he said, “Impress me with intensity, not volume.” Sounds like a pretty simple statement right?  Don’t be impressed by the amount of work someone does, but be impressed by how hard or how well they can do the work. Volume refers to the amount of work involved and intensity is the effort.  It was really interesting to hear that and was a big eye opener for me.

Reading this and repeating it to myself clarified my vision of how to optimize performance. It made perfect sense to prioritize how well you can do something over how much of it you do. In very basic terms, I would rather someone give 100% effort and show quality movement on a scaled down workout than give a shit performance on an RX’d workout. A shit performance will give you, well you guessed it, SHIT (results). You’ve done nothing but satisfy your ego. No one is impressed by doing singles on your thrusters for an RX’d “Fran” and neither should you be. Dropping a wallball shot after 5 reps because it’s too heavy is just as bad. Truthfully, you did not really improve your fitness. If anything you’ve opened yourself up to potential injuries and poor movement patterns. All of which are the opposite of why you come to the gym in the first place. Put the ego to the side, choose the appropriate weights and smash the workout as intended. That is the real key to performance gains.

The road does not stop with modifying the load of a workout piece. The load refers to the amount of weight for a given exercise. Movement choice is often neglected as well. If an athlete cannot effectively perform a skill, then that athlete will not experience the intended stimulus. This also applies to an athlete who chooses a weight that is too heavy. For example, if someone cannot effectively string together, say, chest to bar pullups in a workout piece that requires 5 rounds for 20 reps, then that person will not benefit from doing it as RX’d.  A reduced amount of reps would not only help preserve the stimulus but also work on improving their muscular endurance. Essentially anything that greatly veers away from the stimulus should be scaled so the stimulus is preserved.

Doing something as RX’d or RX’d+ is something that is earned and not given. An athlete has to prove they can handle the volume, load and skills required before deciding to take it to that next step. It is not in the athlete’s best interest to choose a weight or movement based on what their buddies or the person they are chasing after has done. It is totally cool to push yourself, but be smart. Letting your ego make the decisions is a good way to end up sidelined, which will leave you frustrated and your fitness completely halted. Trust your gut, trust your coaches and look out for your fitness!