Relative Intensity and Scaling
In CrossFit, our training goal is to increase work capacity across broad time and modal domains. As a coach and an athlete it’s important to be able to recognize the intended stimulus of workouts to reach that training goal and then evaluate what we can do to better execute the workout and obtain the intended stimulus.
For example; Fran is meant to be a maximal effort, spicy hot workout performed in less than five minutes whereas Cindy, a 20 minutes AMRAP, is a lower-intensity, grinder workout that requires more stamina.
How do we all get the intensity out of each workout? Well, the incredible beauty of CrossFit is it’s universal scalability. We can have a class of 12-15 athletes all do the same version of a workout and get the same intended stimulus response. Well, that’s the goal anyway. And that my friends is the idea behind relative intensity.
Just because you may not use 65 pounds or perform kipping pull-ups, doesn’t mean that you’re not putting in maximal effort. If you perform Fran RX in 10 minutes but can perform a scaled version with a lighter load and some assistance on your pull ups in 5 minutes, you’re actually getting more power output with the faster time and achieving a higher level of intensity for the workout.
Scaling, modifying, substituting, whatever you want to do for that workout that day to get that intensity is what will continue to give you the best fitness results with your CrossFit training.
Written by Connie Keathley
Connie is a Coach at Four Barrel CrossFit. Her coaching credentials include CrossFit Level 3, CrossFit Kids, CrossFit Movement & Mobility, Gymnastics, Advanced Gymnastics and Endurance. She is also a Level 1 USAW lifting coach. She’s coached and trained under 9-time USAW National Champion Olympic Weightlifter, Chad Vaughn as well as Olympic competitors Ursula Garza and Matt Bruce. She’s trained people from age 3 to 81, and has always had a heart to help others! Being a CrossFit coach has given her the avenue to do so!