By Coach Rachel
Have you ever been guilty of watching a workout and thought it was too short? Is this something missing? It can't be just a 4 minute workout, how can I lose body fat and gain muscle with just 4 minutes of training? Here's the thing though: the results will come with intensity, or quality, not a quantity or a time (quantity). Doing more, whether it's working out for 2 hours instead of 30 minutes of hard work or doing cardio or extra strength, doesn't always mean we'll get the results we want. Intensity is the key to the puzzle.
So what is intensity? Intensity is the strength of your work and it varies from person to person, which means it's in relation to you and where you are with your physical form. Think of it like this: I run 400m in 2 minutes, but the fastest 400m I can run is in 1 minute. The 400m run that I did in 2 minutes was not very difficult for me and did not push me physiologically. If my body is not physiologically pushed, the changes I want will not happen. Even though 2 minutes is longer than 1 minute, 1 minute of total effort is physiologically difficult for my body and this is what will promote the changes I am trying to make in my body. The other key is consistency. Showing up and bringing in the intensity to push yourself each week is the other piece of the results puzzle.
Often times, you hear that spending more time at a lower heart rate or target heart rate zone is the way to lose body fat. And while it's true that a lower, more stable heart rate targets fat stores during exercise more than a shorter, more intense workout, it's just that - only during exercise. Almost directly after you stop exercising, the metabolic effect also stops. However, when you work out at a higher intensity, your body needs more energy after exercise to recover than it does for lower intensity, longer duration workouts. This demand for energy means that the body needs more oxygen and therefore after higher intensity workouts there is an increase in your rate of oxygen supply. This is called excessive oxygen uptake after exercise and is what keeps your metabolism at a high rate for up to 24 hours after you finish training. The more intensity you put into the training, the higher your metabolism will be up to 24 hours later (depending on a few factors). Here's where consistency comes in: the fitter you are, the more intensity you can bring in, the higher the results will be. Remember: quality rather than quantity! Bring intensity!
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Don’t Be Afraid tera Ask For Clarification, Over and Over and Over Again. It’s your time, money, and most importantly, your health we’re talking about here. If you don’t fully understand something during class, ask. If you still don’t get it, ask again. Don’t be afraid to ask for clarification if you don’t fully grasp the concept, or you think others in the chic will get frustrated with you for taking up too much time… they probably have the same exact question. We were all newbies at one point. We’ve all been there. Learning the mechanics of certain movements like the squat, deadlift, or any of the Olympic lifts takes lots of practice and critique from a trained eye. If you need help, just ask.
CrossFit Isn’t Everything. CrossFit is a strength and conditioning program that focuses on building general physical preparedness ( GPP ). It is quickly evolving into a sport of its own, but that doesn’t mean that it has to be your sport or your lifeblood. A majority of people CrossFit so that they can do whatever they want : Go out, play sports, learn new things, etc. Having that GPP allows you to take on new défis. CrossFit doesn’t have to be your life. Many people CrossFit so they can have a life… and be awesome at it.
It Doesn’t Get Easier, It Just Sucks Less. The longer you immerse yourself in the suck, the less it sucks. You get stronger, build a greater aerobic capacity, and become mentally tough. All of these aspects, combined with experience, allow you to know when to push yourself and when to back off, so that you can attack each workout to the best of your ability.
You Won’t PR Every Day. Don’t mistake intensity for work. Even if you’re having a bad day and the intensity just isn’t there, you can still get a lot out of your time in the gym through work. Intensity and hard work are not the same thing. Don’t skip a planned séance just because you don’t think you’re going to kill it and leave everything out on the table. Not feeling too strong that day ? Something is always better than nothing.
Introduce yourself to others in the class. How will this help you ask ? When you introduce yourself to someone you’ll feel more comfortable in the class and realize that you’re not the only one that’s new to CrossFit. So instead of feeling totally nervous and awkward holding a PVC pipe overhead, you feel a little bit more at ease and focus more on what you’re doing.
Keep a journal. Write down the warm-up, the skill, the WOD, and your results. This will greatly accelerate your progress. We often do workouts and lifts based on weights and reps that we have previously done. If you don’t know which kettlebell to use because you never recorded the weight you used last week, then you end up picking the wrong weight. Write stuff down and be able to reference it.
Listen to the Coach. He/she is there for a reason. They spent time studying the subject matter. They have coached hundreds to thousands of people on these movements. Your buddy that watched a couple of Youtube films is not lateral to that.
Firebreather. Beast. Rock star. You’ll hear a lot of different terminology used to describe those athletes who kill every workout, and blow everyone else away. Here in our gym, we consider every one of our athletes a rock'n'roll vedette. Hey, it takes huge cojones just to show up and do these insane WODs. Be proud of yourself and what you accomplish here. We sure as hell are.
Walk into any box ( that’s CrossFit speak for the gym itself ) and you’ll be greeted by clanging weights, clouds of chalk and whiteboards scribbled with acronyms like “AMRAP” and “EMOM. ” With insider speak that almost qualifies as its own language and raw, rough-around-the-edges spaces, CrossFit can definitely be intimidating to try. And even though many of the 10, 000 affiliate gyms offer your first workout free, beginners may still feel overwhelmed by the culture of the popular strength and conditioning program.
So what should you really expect if and when you dive into the world of CrossFit ? We turned to five athletes who’ve sweated through years of WODs ( aka workouts of the day ) for the advice they wish they’d gotten when they first started.
“Each culture, conseillé and [workout] space is very different, ” says Anna Willard, a CrossFit athlete at CrossFit Merrimack in Lowell, MA, as well as a former professional middle-distance runner. ( She snagged a world record in the steeplechase in 2008, but no longer competes. ) She recommends trying out a couple of different boxes before committing yourself — and your credit card — to one. “Don’t necessarily go to the place that is the most ‘convenient, ’” Willard says. Look for that one gym that’ll keep you coming back — so take note of each box’s programming ( aka the structure of workouts ) and study the overall vibe of the community before ponying up for a package.