Intensity is one of the pillars of CrossFit. In fact, the word “intensity” is never missing from definitions of CrossFit. If you were to look in the dictionary, the word would refer to a degree of strength, power, force or energy.

How Does Intensity Work?

CrossFit incorporates intensity because it is good for developing fitness. It’s a potent stimulant that is critical to adaptation. You are training for a result. You do exercises that your body is not used to and you engage in a level of physical activity that is much more than what you usually do. Your body is forced to adapt. As you exercise on a regular basis, you grow stronger. Your endurance improves, and more.

When you reach a point where your usual load or movements are starting to feel easy, don’t stay there. You need to scale or kick your workouts up a notch to avoid reaching a plateau, or a point where you are no longer improving. You need to increase the intensity of your workouts so your body can reach another level.

Intensity is Relative

Coaches and gyms tend to forget that what is intense for one person is different from what is intense for someone else. Some levels of intensity might be too much for others. It’s all relative. This depends on a variety of factors: age, gender, fitness level, health history, strength and more.

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This is where scaling comes in. You can adjust your workouts to match your fitness level and work on an intensity that is challenging for you. It’s important for coaches and students to work together to track progress and scale workouts.

CrossFit is Supposed to be Hard

…but it should not push you to the point of no return. Great coaches should emphasize first the importance of doing workouts correctly to get optimal results. They should encourage newbies that doing it right is more important than doing it fast. Once they get comfortable and have increased strength, agility, etc. to complete a round or do as many reps as possible, then they can train at a higher intensity.

Intensity is the greatest opportunity for success, as well as the greatest opportunity for disaster. Hard work gets results, but you need to find the sweet spot.

How Can Coaches Help?

The best part of CrossFit is the opportunity to scale. Coaches, instructors and athletes have a number of variables they can control when it comes to a workout. You can make movements more simple or more complex and offer options to your students. You can control load, range of motion, volume and even intensity.

Remember, you need to keep your students from over-exerting themselves. Check up on them, making sure that they are training at a level of intensity that will help them improve and avoid plateauing. But at the same time, keep the level so that it doesn’t result in injury. Refine their technique and track their progress. Help them understand why intensity is important to the workout. All of this will be helpful in the long run.

It’s easy to over-exert yourself when you feel like you’re not getting the results you want. It’s also easy to get lazy and think that as long as you’re going through the motions, you’ll be fine. Find the right level of intensity to stay challenged but still be able to do quality work. You’ll achieve your fitness goals in time.