The Intensity Trap

October 15, 2019
The Intensity Trap



October 15, 2019

"Intensity makes a good story. Consistency makes progress."That's a powerful quote.Tell me if this sounds familiar…You have an early meeting, so you can’t get to the gym at your normal time. Then your kid has a basketball game that night, so you can’t go later either. You decide you’re gonna make up for it the next day by going EXTRA hard in the gym! In other words, MOAR INTENSITY!!Sounds like a great idea, right? And you do it, and you have a killer workout. You crush it.But then, the soreness the next day is debilitating and you can barely move. So what do you do? You skip the next two days at the gym. Finally at the end of the week you are able to go through the motions again.That means your training week looked like this:

  • Monday - Missed due to early meeting and family obligations
  • Tuesday - CRUSHED IT!!!
  • Wednesday - Missed due to excessive soreness
  • Thursday - Missed due to excessive soreness
  • Friday - Light workout


In this case, added intensity was counterproductive. At best, it only interfered with your progress. At worst, you actually lost progress and risked injury from excessive volume and intensity.In the above example, we have 5 days, and 2 workouts, but neither of them were truly productive.To quote Marcus Filly, former CrossFit Games Athlete and the creator of Functional Bodybuilding:

“I’ve been there too. Every day has to be more intense than the last. If I wasn’t laying on the floor in a heaping pile of my own bodily fluids, then I didn’t feel like I got a “good” workout. Well that train heads only one place in the long run. To plateau and burn out city.”

Consider this alternative:

  • Monday - Early meeting and family obligations, so 10-minute bodyweight circuit
  • Tuesday - Back to the SHOP for a great workout
  • Wednesday - Workout #3 this week
  • Thursday - #4 “I’m on a roll!!”
  • Friday - Every day this week baby!!

This should be a much more common week. 5 days, 5 workouts, ZERO MISSED OPPORTUNITIES.Just to be clear… it doesn’t have to be Intensity *OR* Consistency. It can, and should be, Intensity *AND* Consistency. But the order of operations is critical.Just as we practice with our movements: Mechanics, Consistency, then Intensity. The same is true for your routines and habits. Get your Consistency dialed in first. Then you can sprinkle in some Intensity when you need it!

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