Volume, Intensity, and a Lifetime of Success

Volume, Intensity, and a Lifetime of Success


A) 5 on 3 (Beg 4 on 4) each round for time:
12 Strict chin-ups
200m run
20 AbMat sit-ups
B) 1 RM PJ – 15 mins
C) 20RM BS (+5#)


15 DB Thruster (55/40)
5 Shuttle Sprint
10 DB Thruster
7 Shuttle Sprint
5 DB Thruster
9 Shuttle SprintMy friend, OG CrossFitter, and CEO of Again Faster, Jon Gilson, wrote a post (or a rant) on Facebook last week (re-printed below). To me it epitomized much of what goes on in the new and competitive world of CrossFit – people looking for a fast way to the top without putting in the years of work, the foundation, to get there. He talks about intensity being of critical importance. I agree… and I also think it’s important to remember that over the course of a lifetime, for us ‘normal’ human beings, intensity has to be balanced with easy, endurance based workouts that allow for recovery, plus mobilization, for continued fitness gains and growth over decades.

It also reminded me of how important this lesson is for everyone, at any level, across all endeavors of value in life. 99.99% of the time, success comes to people who put in the work, who do the time, who spend the hours (10,000+), and who keep showing up, day in and day out, whether they feel like it or not. There are no short cuts. And to think there is or that someone else got there without it is to Are you one of those people?

Last Sunday, I gave the Programming lecture at an L1 in Boston. After going through six days of well-balanced workouts, aimed specifically at general physical preparation, the cornerstone of the CrossFit method, I was approached by an aspiring Games competitor. “I can tell that’s not enough for me,” he said, the implication that the workouts we’d programmed represented insufficient volume and skill development for him to progress as an athlete.

The WODs, in order:
Push Press
Filthy Fifty
Six Rounds for Time: Row 250m, 15 Wall Ball

He saw low volume, low coordination movement, and assumed inadequacy. He was wrong. The vast majority of your training time, regardless of your aim, should be spent at general physical preparation, embodied in simple couplets and triplets, strength training, and the occasional long-duration effort. Short, hard, intense.

This intensity is much more important than volume. Remarkably more important. For the newer trainee, this means no two-a-days, no four-WOD Saturdays. No flash-in-the-pan volume accumulation. Volume accumulation, the method by which athletes are able to endure ever-more reps within any given time period, is not the product of a week of training. It is the product of a lifetime of training, years of consistent focus.

Competitors must treat intensity and volume accumulation like two different things, each with a different trajectory. Intensity is created in the moment, embodied through intelligent programming that allows for maximum output. Volume is accumulated over months and years, an extraordinarily gradual layering of intense workout upon intense workout. Don’t confuse the two. If intensity and volume accumulation are confounded, the result is generally setback: injury, movement deficiency, short-term success at long-term cost. I see it constantly, the rapid preparation for a looming contest consisting of a sudden, massive increase in volume, imposing huge loads on unprepared physiology.

Hear me now. If you’re an aspiring Games competitor without years of volume accumulation through high school and collegiate training, without significant time under a skilled, veteran CrossFit coach, and you pursue volume with aplomb, you’re going to crush yourself.

Stop setting your sights on the 2014 Games. Aim at 2016, 2017, 2018. Give yourself adequate time to develop a base of general physical preparation, to identify and remedy your movement deficiencies at their root level, to acquire new skills, to accumulate volume in a sensical way.

Go hard, and then go home. Be consistent in your training, but never overzealous in frequency. Never confuse simplicity with inadequacy. Never confuse volume with intensity. Success is a lifetime pursuit. Treat it that way.

~Jon Gilson

Noon on Franklin Hill
Franklin Hill – littered with hill sprinters at High Noon!



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