Friday, August 5, 2011


     Morning again your ramble heads (do you like your nickname?). Today I'm shooting to blind you with science... so shield your eyes. And no, it's not "Weird Science", the 80's have passed. Anyway, grab your easy chair and your iPad, and let's get to it!

     So, I was reading something from good ol' Uncle Rip (Mark Rippetoe for those of you that don't know). He said:

"Don't confuse high effort with high intensity"

     I remembered him speak about intensity, and measuring intensity from his and Dr. Lon Kilgore's book: Practicle Programming for Strength Training. Lot of good info in that book, but I was looking for the specific passage. After checking the Index for "Intensity" I found what I was looking forward. Let me sum it up for you.

     Intensity is the average amount of weight lifted, relative to your 1 RM. Actually, there's a very simple formula:

Volume / Reps = Average Weight Used (AWU)
AWU / 1RM x 100 = % of Intensity

     So Intensity actually refers to your workload in a given workout. Lets say (for saying's sake) that you are a burly man that can squat 3 wheels (315lbs). So you do a progressive load of 225lbs x 3, 275lbs x 3 and 295lbs x 3. The math should look like this:

[(225x3)+(275x3)+(295x3)] / 9 reps = 265
(265 / 315) x 100 = 84%

     So, your workout averages to 84%, which isn't too shabby. However, we're looking at your work set for a progressive load of 3 x 3. What we didn't calculate was your warm-up set. So let's say that you did 45lbs x 5, 135lbs x 3 and 185lbs x 3 to work up. Then we redo the math:

[(45x5)+(135x3)+(185x3)+(225x3)+(275x3)+(295x3)] / 20 reps = 178.5
(178.5 / 315) x 100 = 57%

     You see what happened? Crap... that's a drop in intensity right there. However, your top number is probably a better view of your actual workout. The bottom number is to harp on the fact that we can't spend foever on warm-up sets. You're warm-up sets are just that, you should no be taxed going in.

     More to the point of today's ramble, I think the word "intensity" is a buzz word in the fitness community (a lot like core), that get's missused a whole lot. Let's take a look at a WOD that you may or may not have been bested by, the hero WOD Randy: 30 75lb Snatches for time. Let's do the math, and use differnt poundage for the snatch: Person A - 135lbs; Person B - 185lbs; Person C - 200lbs

(75 x 70) / 70 = 75 (easy math I know)
Person A : (70 / 135) x 100 = 52%
Person B : (70 / 185) x 100 = 38%
Person C : (70 / 200) x 100 = 35%

     What have we learned? Either way you stack it, the relative intensity (intensity for each person) is really low. Am I saying that it's an easy WOD? Not at all. 70 of anything is going to be tough. The EFFORT is going to be high, but not the INTENSITY. Are we seeing the difference yet? Basically, intensity is not something abstract, it's something that we can calculate. So, I may not yell out "keep the intensity up", I may just go with, "rage out on the mother ^%$&ing bar!!!"

     So there it is, my rant/ramble on intensity. PR on a 1RM = intense, PR on Fran = tough as hell... but not as "intense". Are there other schools of though? Yes. Is there other measures of intensity for different disciplines like sprinting? Yes. But we're talking about moving the weight. So keep intensity high, put forth the effort... and do burpees!

"To be pleased with one's limits is a wretched state"
     - Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

3,2,1 GO!

Yesterday's Training:

Sprints: Row 400m x 7 with 2:30 rest between effort
Round 1 - 1:22.9
Round 2 - 1:21.5
Round 3 - 1:21.3
Round 4 - 1:23.6
Round 5 - 1:22.4
Round 6 - 1:24.4
Round 7 - 1:23.7
The rest was deceiving on this, you got your wind back... but not your legs.

For time:
30 Pullups
40 Overhead Walking lunges 45lbs (1=1)
50 Situps
40 Burpees
30 Push Press 40 lbs
Time - 11:28
This didn't go down as planned. The room I was going to do this in had kettlebell, but it wasn't available. Had to change it up a bit, and probably a quicked WOD than I was shooting for, but still good. Longest part was the Push Presses.

Day 112 Burpee Challenge / 6328 Burpees Completed



  1. Could I propose something. First of all, I agree with Rippetoe's formula. I just think it's important to underscore the fact that the formula is applied to "strength training". And what is the the only thing(variable) that matters in strength training? Load. Hence, your training intensity truly is relative to your 1RM. That's a frigging awesome way to put it, and I love it. I've never heard that before, and it jives with what I stress to people: Working sets should be AT LEAST 85% of your 1RM!! In a wod like "Randy"(a task priority), however, the idea is completely different. The weight is sub-maximal and already set, and it's your job to determine how fast you can accomplish that weight and reps. Therefore, the only way to increase intensity is to decrease the amount of time it takes you to finish the wod relative to your PR time in that wod. In a wod like "Randy", intensity has a different definition since the only variable (assuming everyone does it as Rx'd)is based on time rather than load. So comparing intensity in terms of a strength situation based on load as a variable and a conditioning situation based on time(and task) would be comparing apples to oranges.

  2. Exactly, that's what I mentioned in the last paragraph, that this is about moving a load. I think intensity get used in a lot of different fashions, but this one is a measurable definition of intensity. In CrossFit, it's more of a "feeling". Not saying that's wrong.

    Obviously, I've been giving myself A LOT of strength bias, and including accessory work that we don't normally due. Albiet every accessory movement I perform is a "CrossFit" movement in some shape or fashion.

    I think there's a very smart way to train people. Through trial and error I'm trying to find that way, and be a better coach... just trying to be better than yesterday. That's the goal.