Intensity and Power
I can now bring the CrossFit charter to full circle by tying in intensity and power. First I’d like to define some terms an explain why they are important to what we do in the gym.
What is intensity? Intensity is defined as magnitude, as of energy or a force per unit of area, volume, time, etc.
What is Power? Power is defined as work done or energy transferred per unit of time; The time rate of doing work.
What is CrossFit’s definition of Intensity and Power? CrossFit has put these two words into more easily understandable terms in it’s definition of intensity. Intensity is power and power is Force x Distance / Time. Power and intensity is the good stuff that we want from our CrossFit workouts. It’s where we get results. Intensity pushes us past what we think we can do, in turn extending our limits.
CrossFit is performance-based fitness. We know we’re getting better when our performance increases. If we couldn’t measure our performance (our power output) then we would never know if we’re improving / becoming more fit. Our goal is to move large loads, long distances as quickly as possible.
Next I’d like to clear up a common misconception related to intensity. I think it can be misused and misunderstood often. When you’re performing a 1 RM Deadlift, that is intense. When you hit a heavy triple on your back squat, that is intense. Although you’re not leaving a sweat angel on the floor before you leave the gym, you are preforming a whole lot of work with those low rep, heavy movements and your power output is going to be high. High power output = high intensity = results!
Fran is also intense. Fran is known for having the highest power output of any CrossFit benchmark workout because of the force exerted, distance you’ve moved your body and the weight as well as the time you’ve completed it in. It may only take you 5 – 10 minutes to complete the entire workout but the power output you achieve is much higher than that 20 minute chipper you think you need every day.
Intensity is the independent variable most commonly associated with maximizing the rate of return of favorable adaptation. In short, intensity gets you what you want. It’s where the magic happens.
Now that you understand mechanics, consistency, and intensity, here’s how they all fit together under CrossFit: while many of us assume that safety is the main concern with proper mechanics —it is certainly the safest way to train—it can’t be emphasized enough that sound technique is the most efficient and effective road to fitness. “Proper movements will allow you to lift more weight, perform more repetitions faster, or both. More work in less time means higher average power (force x distance / time = power). Higher average power means higher intensity. Higher intensity means better results. Therefore, proper mechanics are the ideal supports for the bridge to fitness.”
Move well, be consistent and then go hard. Go to that dark place. Get uncomfortable. Find the good stuff.