INTENSITY

 
 Aimee Lyons of Crossfit King of Prussia pulls a PR deadlift: 280# (over 2x bodyweight)

I had the fortune of going to the CrossFit Central East Regional competition in Logan, Ohio just over a week ago. I was also able to judge, which put me right in the middle of all of the action. Going to competitions always wakes me up to the INTENSITY that come pouring out of competitors. They literally put their blood, sweat, and tears into competing, and it’s just an incredible sight to see. I recently talked about Chasing the Rx’d, where I recommended scaling to keep the stimulus of a workout. Now, I’m here to tell you to CHALLENGE yourself to be even more intense than before.

WHY INTENSITY?
All of the “good stuff” that you probably want can be found in intensity. Fat loss, strength gains, better mobility, speed, agility, endurance, power, etc. are all gleaned from intense workouts. You want to be better at CrossFit? Be intense. You want to be better at your sport? Be intense. You want to be better at life? Be intense.You want to be a better mother/father/sister/brother/son/daughter? Be intense.

Men’s 4th WOD at Regionals: this is the end of 50 box jumps, 40 kb swings, 30 burpees, 20 sandbag cleans, 10 db presses, 20 sandbag cleans, 30 burpees, 40 kb swings, 50 box jumps. These guys are crazy fit, but still working hard!!

HOW CAN I BE INTENSE?

Once we have Mechanics and Consistency down, we can move on to Intensity. Remember, Intensity equals Power. If we write out the equation, Power = [(Force x Distance)/Time]. Looking at it from a strictly mathematical standpoint, we can increase our overall power by making the numerator (force or distance) BIGGER or the denominator (time) SMALLER.  In other words, to increase intensity, we can:
DECREASE TIME: This is probably the first thing that comes to mind – going faster. This is why we time workouts. Doing the same amount of work in a shorter amount of time means you are fitter. Try to have a good idea of what your time should be and do everything you can to be faster. If you’re able to chat during a workout, you’re not being intense enough. (even on slow lift days, I want you reeling from that PR you just lifted). Run faster, don’t take as many breaks, if you do take breaks, keep them short. Keep moving! You might perceive yourself moving quickly, but there’s a reason everyone watching is saying “move it! move it!” Pick a “rabbit,” someone that is just ahead of you and CHASE them. Let them be your pace car and then zoom by them at the end. If you workout alone, videotape yourself and you’ll be surprised at perception vs. reality.
INCREASE LOAD: A PR on a max deadlift is pretty darn intense. Go for the 35# kb instead of the 26.5# kb. Use a thinner band for your pullups. Scale UP if you are already Rx’ing. Wear a weight vest (like a certain Swine does for every one of his workouts). You’re not going to get that elusive Rx if you don’t use the darn weight! Just make sure you have Mechanics and Consistency down. (If there is a 95# squat snatch in a workout, but you’ve never done a squat snatch, use a weight that is light enough to complete the movement, even if it’s PVC.)
INCREASE DISTANCE: jump on a higher box, run a little longer, climb a higher rope, carry those dumbbells another lap. Do a squat snatch instead of a power snatch, squat clean instead of power clean, etc. Be careful with this criteria since it can also increase time significantly.
ODDS AND ENDS: 
1. if you are working on a skill or range of motion, do the full movement until you fail and then scale. For instance, if you have a workout of 3 rounds and each round has 10 pushups, do as many full pushups as you can until failure. Then go to your knees to complete the workout and keep moving. This will work on your strength, but still keep you moving through the workout without any significant breaks. Same can go for pullups (do unassisted first, then banded), ring dips, handstand pushups, etc.
2. Even if a workout doesn’t have a particular movement you should be working on, come 5 minutes early or stay 5 minutes late to get in some pullups, play with the dumbbells or do some GHD situps. The people I’ve seen succeed the most have been the people who spend just a little bit of extra time before and after class to work on things. Get a pullup bar at home and every time you walk by it, hang on the bar, do a pullup, etc. Every day you wake up, do 20 pushups. Get a broomstick and work on those OHSs!
3. If you are increasing your load or distance, you need to play that fine line of keeping your time within reason. I’m ok with you getting a slightly slower time if you increased your weight. But you also should not have a 15 minute Fran since the point of the WOD is to be devastated at the end of it.Talk to your coach or look on the message boards for advice on what the stimulus of the workout should be.


Kerry from CF KoP pulls 300#. A 50# PR? Now that’s INTENSE!


BUT I DON’T WANT TO COMPETE LIKE THOSE TOP CROSSFITTERS…

Sure, not everyone is going to be competing in the CrossFit Games, or even the Sectionals. But that doesn’t mean you should avoid intensity. While I can’t read everyone’s minds, I’m willing to bet you are doing CrossFit for one of those reasons listed above as the “good stuff.” And remember, to get to that “good stuff” we need to be intense relative to ourselves. There is no excuse because we can always push ourselves to go faster, increase load, or increase distance. If you move from a 5# kb to a 10# kb, that is being more intense. Whether you’re a soccer mom who is doing CrossFit recreationally or a soccer mom who is a CrossFit Gamer, (because soccer moms span the spectrum) you need to find ways to challenge yourself. What I’m trying to say is, don’t be complacent with the status quo because as CrossFitters/husbands/wives/children/friends, that’s just not what we do. The CrossFit Games motto is “The only way to win is to do more work faster.” You may not be in it to “win,” but I bet you want to be “better,” so for the general CrossFitter, I would change the motto to “The only way to be better is to do more work faster.”

How do you find motivation to be intense?
What are some ways you crank up the intensity?
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A Double Down Dilemma

Let’s take a poll. If you were hungry and someone offered you KFC’s Double Down sandwich, you would say:
a.) “No thanks, I don’t feel like having a heart attack right now.”
b.) “Sure, but I need a bun too.”
c.) “Chicken and bacon? Heck yes I’ll take it!”
 

If you read this blog, chances are you’ll pick C. Does that go against everything the general public believes? Heck yeah. Let’s take a closer look at what this phenomenom actually is. 
KFC Double Down
KFC advertises their latest sandwich as two chicken patties with cheese, bacon, and “special sauce” in between the two patties. You can get the chicken breaded and fried or grilled. Pictured above is grilled. KFC also sells the Double Down only as a meal, meaning you have to get fries and a drink with it.

My Experience

Driving to the gym one day, I wasn’t even that hungry, but the talk of the infamous “Double Down” had gotten to me, so I pulled into the KFC almost instinctually. I can’t remember the last time I’d had KFC, but there I was, waiting in line with about 12 other folks. I’m not kidding you when EVERY single person in line was talking about the “Double Down.” It was like we were waiting in line for a celebrity book signing. I couldn’t believe it. I guess I was “cool” by KFC standards. Of course, right before I ordered the grilled version, the two guys behind me were discussing who in the world would get the grilled. Luckily I decided to be THAT guy. Because they sell it as a meal, I had to order fries and I got a water with it. 
When I got to the gym, I unwrapped my little treasure. Just like any other fast food sandwich, it didn’t look nearly like anything in the commercials, but it WAS delicious. The chicken patties were big (about 4-5 oz. each by my estimates), and the bacon scrumptious. The cheese and sauce just added to the flavor. I didn’t eat the fries and I only stopped eating to take sips of water.  All in all, I think it went down in about 18 seconds. After I posted this fact on facebook, I got an array of comments, including the following:
“It’s not nearly as ridiculous a sandwich when you order it grilled Chris. Grilled, it just looks like one of the ususal protein loaded meals that you usually post on here, and not the fried monstrosity that it was inteded[sic] to be.”
 

 “That looks delicious!!! Seriously how can u go wrong – chicken, bacon and cheese!!! ;)”
  
“they might as well give you a gun and say “go kill yourself” because thats what this is going to do.”
Things I Like About the Double Down
1. It’s easy – besides the wait time because so many people had ordered it, being able to order this at a fast food place is great. 
2. No bun – the chicken IS the bun! If you’re avoiding grains, you don’t have to take the bun off your sandwich anymore.  (obviously you need to order the grilled version)
3. Protein – like I said, the chicken patties were big for a fast food place, so this is a great source of real animal protein. yum.
4. Tasty – between the bacon, cheese, and sauce, it was darn tasty. 
Things I Didn’t Like About the Double Down
1. Cheese and Sauce – If you’re going Paleo (no dairy) then you’ll have to scrape this off or not order it. The sauce also is made from vegetable oil, probably soy or canola oil, and that’s not good.
2. Quality – while a big source of protein, the quality is from a fast food chain, so you know those chickens were pumped full of hormones and nasty stuff. 
3. Messy – just a touch too messy with the sauce on the chicken patties. If you have no reason to have clean hands though, go for it!
Conclusion
The Double Down is popular right now because it’s a novelty. People talk about getting the Double Down like they do about taking shots of grain alcohol. “Hey man I just had the Double Down!” “Dude, you’re so bad*ss!!” and so on. Others avoid it because they think it’s going to “clog arteries.” Let’s refer to my cholesterol numbers to see if eating meat raises your cholesterol. (it doesn’t) In the end, my position is that if you’re not doing strict paleo (no dairy), the grilled Double Down is a pretty good option compared to others out there. I am NOT endorsing this sandwich to have at every meal, or even every other day. It’s not the best quality meat, but when you’re in a pinch and need something to grab quick while on the road, getting a Double Down is a decent choice because it doesn’t tempt you with a bun. It’s also an option for those of you just starting to change your diet and for whatever reason just can’t get off the fast food. As a side note, could there be a perfect Double Down? Sure, it would probably be 2 pieces of pastured chicken, bacon, and maybe some avocado and real spices thrown in there.

-what places or foods do you try to hit up on the go? 
-Do you find it hard to eat clean on the road? 
-What about you folks who travel for work?