Intensity is a measure of how hard you are working, think of it as a scale of your effort.
This could be how much weight you are lifting, it could be how high your heart rate is, it could be how hard you’re breathing. Most importantly it’s your perception on any day and in any training session of how hard you are working.
We could break down our intensity scale to 3 levels: Low, Moderate and High.
We could assign a percentage of effort to each of these levels as such that total rest is 0% effort and 100% is a max effort:
Low: 0% -> 30%
Moderate: 30% -> 70%
High: 70% -> 100%
This percentage could be a percent of your max on a lift, a percent of your max heart rate, percent of perceived effort or more.
From this we can already see that high intensity (or high effort) ISN’T just a 100% max, but rather anything more than a 70% effort.
With this in mind and knowing that CrossFit is exercise performed at relative high intensity, so long as we are working at a 7/10 effort (70%) or over we have hit the right level.
Within the high intensity bracket we can define 2 sections, the “Training Sweet Spot” and “Competition”. If we were to assign our percentages to these we would have:
Training Sweet Spot - 70% -> 85%
Competition - 85% -> 100%
The training sweet spot is where intensity is high, but risk is low and recovery is fast. It’s that point where technique holds together and you move well. When you finish the workout you sit down, take a couple of breaths then cheer on your friends, high five some people and leave feeling good. The next day you wake up ready to train again and take on the day.
The competition level is where intensity is very high, but risk is also high and recovery is slow. It’s when you finish and roll around on the floor struggling to catch your breath for a number of minutes wondering what happened. You spend the rest of the day exhausted and wake up the next day sore and fatigued, and need a day or 2 off training to recover.
You can see how if you have to take a day or 2 off training then you’re not progressing your fitness on those days verses those working at a slightly lower Intensity who are recovered enough to train again.
This is where scaling comes in.
Scaling should put us in that training sweet spot, working hard but with good technique. Finishing workouts feeling pushed but good, injury free, and happy ready to train with the same effort again the next day.
Scaling is cool!
Are you hitting the training sweet spot, or are you pushing too much or too little?