Wednesday, February 18, 2009

on power and intensity

This is what a typical 6:15 class looks like at One World. Yes. There are a lot of sweaty, hot, half naked people. That's just how CrossFitters do it. Though constantly sweaty, I'm neither hot nor half naked. In fact, I'm always fully clothed. I guess that makes me just a partial CrossFitter.

On the most recent CrossFit One World post, Freddy pointed out the importance of intensity. Here are his thoughts:
“Power: Work done or energy transferred per unit of time; The time rate of doing work.”

Force x Distance = Work
Work / Time = Power

“Intensity: Magnitude, as of energy or a force per unit of area, volume, time, etc.”

Power = Intensity

The simple definition of Crossfit is “constantly varied functional movement performed at high intensity.” I think you all have a great grasp of “constantly varied” and “functional movement.” I want to ramble on a bit about “high intensity.”

Intensity, simply put, is where the good shit is. You want to lose weight? Intensity. You want to get stronger? Intensity. You want to get healthier? Intensity. Get it? As Crossfitters, you must grasp the fact that intensity is not how loud you yell during your workout. It’s not about throwing up after a workout. Its not about being dizzy and turning bright red. Intensity is achieving the highest power output that you possibly can in a workout.

I owe you all an apology for not better explaining this to you when I first started posting time goals on the workouts. I can’t lay claim to it as something I figured out myself either. I decided to start programming this way after attending Dutch Lowy’s trainer seminar. It’s pretty simple to explain. Crossfit is about producing the most power output you possibly can in any given workout. The best results will be achieved with more power output. Let’s take “Fran” (21/15/9 reps for time of 95# Thruster and pull-ups) and do some mathematics. I figured these numbers using the power output calculator from Catalyst Athletics (kudos to Greg Everett for such a great website).

Athlete #1 (5’8”/185#) does Fran as prescribed in three minutes. His power output numbers look like this:
291.48 watts
0.4 horsepower
214.98 ft-lbs/sec
(Wow! Almost half a horsepower. That’s badass!)

Athlete #2 ( height & weight the same) does Fran as prescribed in ten minutes. His power output numbers look like this:
87.44 watts
0.12 horsepower
64.49 ft-lbs/sec
A HUGE drop off in power output.

If I take Athlete #2 and lower his thruster weight to 65#, and he finishes in three minutes, suddenly, his power output numbers look like this
255.45 watts
0.35 horsepower
188.41 ft-lbs/sec

The lower weight in the thruster with the faster time brings Athlete #2 closer to the power output of Athlete #1. Athlete #2 will actually see better results with the lighter weight! As he gets faster, he adds more weight until eventually, he is producing high power output at the prescribed weight.

So here is the hard part to grasp. If I tell you all a workout should take ten minutes (I set the goals high because you all want to get there right?), and you take 25 minutes, there is an issue. Yes, you sweat and you feel good because you gutted through it, but really, you just sweat a whole lot without getting the true benefit of the potential power of what Crossfit can do for your overall fitness.

Think about it! Try checking your ego at the door and lowering the weight a bit. I am slowly trying to drop this on all of you and see how your progress comes along. In the near future, I will occasionally not even post prescribed weights on the workouts. I will post a time frame to finish the workout. You need to start logging your weights and times so you can easily figure out what you need to do in any given workout to make it happen within the required time frame. If its a ten minute workout and you finish in 3 minutes, you went to light. If you finish it in 15 minutes, you went to heavy.

Just so you know my train of thought. I will take the run/deadlift/sit-up workout just posted. It was four rounds. I estimated a Crossfit athlete could finish the 4 x 800m runs in 12-15 minutes, the 4 x 15 deadlifts at 225# in 3-5 minutes, and the 20 Abmat sit-ups with a medball in 3-4 minutes. That's the whole workout in about 18-24 minutes. So how can you finish this workout in the time frame? Maybe you just work harder than you normally would. Maybe you need to lower the deadlift weight. Maybe you shorten the run a bit. Maybe you do the sit-ups without a med ball. Figure it out and get it done.

I hope this all makes a little more sense to you. Once again, kudos to Dutch Lowy for enlightening me!
Run 1.1 miles
random stretching
watching the 6:15pm class suffer in agony

CrossFit One World WOD
Complete four rounds for time of:
Run 800m
15 deadlifts (95#)
20 Abmat sit-ups w 8# ball

Joanne's Final Time - 38:13

Notes (to myself) about this workout: According to Freddy's comments above, I should have shortened the run to about 600 meters and pushed a lot harder. I'm constantly adjusting to the CrossFit system because a part of me comes from a distance running background. When you're a distance runner, you workout for distance and not time. I'm all about finishing. However, CrossFit is a bit different. I need to take heed of Freddy's notes, make the proper adjustments and up the intensity. However, I have no interest suffering for a WOD, so this is another negotiation I need to figure out. Hmph.

After Eric's calendar photo debacle, it looks like he punked out of going to CrossFit tonight. Such a chicken! ha ha!


diana.grace said...

Wow. I need a physics degree to understand this post. =P

Joanne said...

Hey Miss Diana!

Thanks for your comment. No physics necessary. I should have explained that currently, the coaches and uber-athletes are training for the NorCal regionals for the CrossFit games coming up in July. Only the top five athletes from each region will be able to compete in the games. It’s pretty intense because our region alone has some phenomenal athletes.

Basically, Freddy is changing the training format a little bit so that we try to scale the WODs in hopes that we finish within a certain time, but with full intensity. Loosely translated, he is suggesting that you’re better off running an intense 10k race as opposed to a slow and steady half marathon. Reason being is that you’ll have better power output and the long-term advantages for increasing strength, speed, and weight loss are much better. Make sense?