“Be impressed by intensity…”

Imagine this: the workout of the day is “Fran”. FRAN! Woohoo! Awesome! Wait, oh man this is gonna suck. But it’s FRAN! And then butterflies start fluttering in your stomach because you did Fran two times before and you know how bad this is going to be. Now if you don’t know what Fran is, it’s:

21 Thrusters
21 Pull-ups
15 Thrusters
15 Pull-ups
9 Thrusters
9 Pull-ups

Women use a 65 lb bar, men use a 95 lb bar, and you do it as fast as you can, noting the time that you completed it. Here’s a good video of the dreaded workout called, “Fran”.

So back to our story-

You did it two times before. The first time you did it you scaled the bar weight down to 50 lbs because the women’s prescribed weight of 65 lbs was a bit too much. Also you did assisted Pull-ups because you were not able to do Pull-ups at the time. You finished the workout in 5 minutes, 9 seconds and it felt awful! Your throat felt like it was on fire, you were lying down on the floor, gasping for air and wondering how such a short workout could feel so painful!

Flash forward eight months and the workout of the day is… oh shit! FRAN!

And this time you can do 65 lb Thrusters and also, you now you can do Kipping Pull-ups! Woohoo! You can finally Rx Fran (meaning you can now do it as it is prescribed). But as you did the workout you found that you were a little slower on the Thursters, doing them only about 5 at a time, and the Kipping Pull-ups were good. You did about 3 at a time until you got to the middle of the workout and then you could only do 1 at a time, resting about 10 seconds in between reps. But you Rx’d it! And you did it in 14 minutes, 34 seconds! After the workout you felt winded but not too bad and your arm and leg muscles felt like they got a good workout. But your lungs are not on fire this time and there was not that overwhelming feeling of suckiness. In fact you find yourself on your feet, looking at the others in the gym and they are still on the floor or on their knees, gasping for air, and they finished way before you did. But you Rx’d it! And you get to put “Rx” right next to your time right?

But the question is, did you do the workout the way it was meant to be done? You Rx’d it, but you were also the last one to finish it. In fact you finished it in about twice the time that it took everyone else to finish it.

Also it felt different this time. Your throat did not feel like it was on fire and you were not on the floor gasping for air.

What happened is that you sacrificed getting the full benefit of the workout by using a weight that was too heavy for you and doing Kipping Pull-ups that slowed you down even more.

The most important element of a CrossFit workout is Intensity. Greg Glassman, founder of CrossFit, once said, “Be impressed by intensity, not volume.” The goal in each workout is to do more work in less time. You know you are performing the workout with the right intensity level when you have to stop briefly to catch your breath every so often, when your muscles fail to work because you have reached the point of fatigue, and your heart is beating so fast that you feel like it’s going to explode. When you reach this intensity level you reap better fitness results. You not only get stronger, you:

– Get Faster
– Increase your metabolic rate
– Burn more fat
– Improve your cardiovascular health
– Improve stamina and endurance
– Get an inordinate growth hormone response
– Improve coordination, agility and balance

All in all, you get better with your physical abilities and your health.

So what happens when you do a workout slower? You get:

– Increased Stregth
– Improved Stamina
– Maybe an improvement in endurance

If you’re still not convinced then try this little test. Right now.

Execute 10 Burpees at a comfortable pace. What I mean by comfortable is take more than 60 seconds to finish them. After you are done, rest for a few minutes noting how you feel afterward.

Then, after you are rested and recovered, execute another set of 10 Burpees but this time do them as fast as you can. You should complete them in about 30 seconds. Then note how you feel after that.

After the first set of Burpees, did you feel like you worked some muscles? Did your heart rate go up? We’re you breathing harder? Sure, you can answer yes to all of these.

After the second set of Burpees what did you feel? Muscle strain and fatigue? Did you get close to your your maximum heart rate? Are you breathing a lot heavier? Are you sitting down, leaning against the wall or on your knees? How about that feeling of dizziness and nausea? You most likely are experiencing all of these.

The goal in every workout is to do more work in less amount of time. The goal is not to do the workout Rx’d, or as prescribed.

So now that you have done Fran scaled knowing that you reaped all the fitness benefits that you could from it, and you did it Rx’d knowing that you left alot of fitness benefits on the table, how are you going to do Fran this time?

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