How Intense is Too Intense?

As a community we love and enjoy and celebrate the results of intensity. Whatever it is you may be chasing with your fitness: getting stronger, running faster, looking good naked, getting off your medication, having more energy or going to the CrossFit Games; intensity is your quickest way to acquiring those results. There is a paradigm shift happening in the fitness industry as the previous model of coming into a fitness facility and sitting on a silly machine using less functional movements, or wiggling on an elliptical has been proven in efficient and often ineffective. But people working out with increased intensity correlate to a higher risk of injury. Any drug that is potent requires a calculated and responsible dose.  Going heavier or faster usually leads to a degradation of safe and efficient technique at some point. So where is the line where the “juice is worth the squeeze” so to speak.  Here are some basic rules of appropriate intensity.

Lay Down a Strong Foundation of Good Movement FIRST!

Spend a good deal of time teaching and refining proper technique, without intensity first. Spend time in the bottom of the air squat, with a pvc pipe or training bar teaching and coaching proper positions. Believe it or not this is very challenging for the athlete neurologically. Practice develops flexibility, timing and awareness of where you are in space. If you put a priority on excellent movement, your athletes will adopt the same values and pride in doing things right, not to mention that you won’t have to police movement standards as much…those reps will count!

Make Sure That Athletes Can Repeat Solid Movement Without Coaching

Doing things right once is good, but as soon as the coach leaves we often see athletes return back to bad habits. People should not move well only when you fix them, but you should be able to glance back across the room and see that those mechanics are still there. Spend some time with the eagle eye, checking back in and being relentless with your demanding cues until it is just muscle memory for the athlete.

Start to Add Load or Speed Until Mechanics Start to Slightly Break Down

Once you have put the work in to drill in those neurological pathways of how to move properly on their own, start to add some intensity to workouts by adding load or speed. When that beautiful squat snatch starts to turn into a rounded back muscle power snatch press out that you cannot recognize as an actual movement, drop the load or decrease the cycling speed and come back to planet earth. You want athletes to find the point where that breakdown happens, slow them down or decrease the weight and then coach them. After that you can push that intensity back up and hopefully that breakdown starts to happen later. Constantly bad movement, gone uncorrected is coaching negligence.