We are now entering Week 4 of the 2019 CrossFit Open. After two weeks of intense workouts your bodies might be extra sore which is why I decided it is a great time to talk about intensity.
How hard should you be working out everyday? How many times a week should you come to Crossfit? What is the difference between training and competing? A lot of us have the misconception that unless we are lying on the floor in a puddle of our own sweat then we did not have a good workout. Not only is that not true, but you may also see better longterm results by changing up how you view training day to day.
We recently started mentioning, before a ‘Metcon’ or Metabolic conditioning, different RPE or rate of perceived exertion. RPE is a guideline of how intense the workout stimulus should be according to how you feel. Intensity is relative to the individual and the various levels of effort an individual can express, depending on their fitness level. Someone who has been Doing CrossFit 6 years and is in their 20’s is going to have a lot more variety than an individual in their 70’s who just completed on ramp after being sedentary for 20 years. With that being said everyone should be accessing their own levels on a regular basis, we’ll discuss this later. Below is a guideline to figure out YOUR RPE, but as I said before everyone’s relative intensity are different and can change overtime.
3-Easily carry on conversation
4-Moderate-Breathing is faster but able to communicate in full sentences
5-Able to sustain pace 20+ minutes
6-Hard slightly uncomfortable, starting to breathe heavier
7-Short of breath, can only speak in short sentences
8-Very Hard; one-word answers only
9-Unable to speak during workout
10-MAX EFFORT; only able to sustain for very short durations
A maximal lift attempt or 10-20 second Assault bike sprints represent a 9-10/10 RPE or 90-100% effort. On the other hand, you would have a 5-6/10 RPE or 50-60% effort for 30+ minutes of work. The goal of what we do here at LocoMotive is to expose you to a wide variety of stimuli. Short, medium long workouts at high, medium and low intensity. We do this for a few reasons. When you are learning something new or refining mechanics, if you can’t do it slow with good mechanics you shouldn’t try to do it fast with a heavy load . There is a reason we warm-up with pvc pipes before we snatch and do some air squats before we perform a 1RM Back-squat.
Days where we keep intensity less than 60% are days when we are practicing a skill. This can be gymnastics, barbell technique or body weight movements. The 65-80% range is where we should be the majority of the time when we’re working out. This is a training intensity. The heart-rate is elevated where you are at various levels of uncomfortable but NOT at a redline or maximum capacity. We see results here because we are presenting our bodies with enough variety but not at levels that are unsustainable. The last category of all-out red-line ending of dead on the floor should be saved for once or twice a month. Save this level of effort for hero workouts, The Girls, or this time of year for the open workout. Speaking of the open, the key to a great score on a workout is consistently working, when you’re resting you don’t score points. If we spend 85% of the year working out at 80% we will develop an ability to work out consistently and only emptying the tank when necessary.
The next question you may ask is how should I know when to workout at a certain intensity? The honest answer is it depends… on a lot of things. As coaches we can tell you the desired stimulus or intensity of the day’s workout. If you come 3-5 days a week every week, 49-52 weeks out of the year; you will get enough variety through the programming and coaching instruction. This is why being CONSISTENT is one of the most important things, if not the most in sustaining life long progress with your health and fitness. Roughly speaking every two weeks if you came to the gym 10 times you should have done some skill work/ mobility and stability 1-3 times, worked out at a TRAINING intensity 5-7 times, and COMPETED 1-2 times. This ratio changes depending on the frequency of your fitness. If you are less consistent, are coming back from an injury or a long break from CrossFit, you may need to spend more time in the SKILL/TRAINING department until you get back up to speed.
As a coaching staff at Locomotive we want to help you reach your goals. For most that is to leave the gym each day feeling better then when you walked in and overall see improvements in your health over time. By being consistent with your class attendance and reaching out for extra help via one-on-one opportunities we can work together to get you where you want to be.