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Intensity and Your CrossFit Training

Winners_2 Did you hear the story about the guy who died doing CrossFit? It’s true. He didn’t go hard enough on “Helen” so his trainer killed him.

All joking aside, CrossFit is one intense MoFo. Usually, your trainer is motivating you to work harder, faster, and stronger and, usually, she/he is right. As CrossFit trainers, intensity is one of our obsessions, along with pull-ups, squats, thrusters, and any of ten thousand other ways to inflict pain help you to achieve your fitness goals. (Although, like the wonderful t-shirt over at Training Anarchy reminds us: “Obsession is what lazy people call dedication.”) We push you to go harder because the simple fact of life is that most people don’t go hard enough. Yet we also understand health, recovery, and the human body; so we know that, despite all our clamoring and exhortations, you simply cannot CrossFit at the same intensity each day, no more so than you can breathe the exact same number of breaths each day. (And we’ve tried counting, believe us. Although it wasn’t exactly a full day. We had to get some pull-ups in. And we’re really not that obsessive-compulsive.)

Anyhow, intensity is a personal thing and that’s why we need your help. As trainers, we need to know if there’s something going on with your body or your life that could affect today’s WOD performance. If you don’t specifically tell us, we’re just reading clues off of your body, like the sweat on your brow, the rate at which your chest is heaving with each breath, the magenta hue of your face, the number of swear words coming out of your mouth — and we’re betting that you are not going hard enough, because that’s usually the case. So tell us if something’s wrong, or if you feel dizzy, or you’re about to puke. We can help you with these things.

Ultimately, we don’t want you to be a wuss but neither do we want to kill you. (There are already far too many Internet rumors that abound concerning imaginary deaths and CrossFit. We’d hate to actually give creedence to nonsense.) So, when you walk through the door and we ask, “How are you?” we’re not just shooting the breeze: we really want to know how you’re doing — if you got enough sleep, if your shoulder or knee is hurting, or if you’ve existed on 4 chicken wings and a can of Red Bull.

Intensity can return awesome results. But it’s important to remember that intensity is like the gas pedal in your car: you can’t drive 80 mph all the time or you’re going to wreck. You have to adapt your speed to the situation in front of you: sometimes the road calls for 65 mph, sometimes that S-curve demands 30 mph, and sometimes there’s a stop sign and you have to hit the brakes.

So, let your CrossFit trainer know what’s going on with your body, your diet, and your rest. Trainers might seem genetically programmed for drag racing, but we do have five gears and a brake pedal too: we can use ‘em if we need to. And, whatever your gender, Clint Eastwood’s words in “Magnum Force” apply: “A man’s got to know his limitations.”

(Text by Lisbeth Darsh/CrossFit Watertown in Connecticut.)

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