High Intensity in Moderation

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If you haven’t read our article “When to push, when to back off” I’d recommend you do so after reading this article

We’ve all heard numerous times that high-intensity is where the “magic happens.” This model has been applied to everyday folks with great success, but at what cost? The question is, what is the longevity of this model with a client-base that already have high-stress lives? I’d venture to say not as long as we’d like it to be if you’re a coach that is interested in your clients getting results for a lifetime not just for a few years.

The basis of this article is to preach the benefits of low-intensity work as well as educate your clients why we don’t push them to the max every day. It is so incredibly important that we educate our clients on why the human body is not designed for high-stress/high-demand training on the regular and considering our clients already have inherent levels of stress (that for some may already be very high), we certainly want to avoid throwing fuel on the fire.

The single biggest push-back I get to my programming is the use of low-demand/low-intensity work on the regular. My clients’ members want to be “smoked” lying dead on the floor after every training session. I’ll be frank; this is simply due to a lack of education when it comes to an understanding¬†of the human body.

The “work harder” approach is extremely flawed. The road to burnout is a short one and occurs quite frequently to those that build their programming on “high-intensity” work. Most of CrossFit (albeit CrossFit by definition is built on high-intensity work) stresses the Aerobic system. The unique quality that CrossFit has is the level of competition where many will sacrifice their well-being to complete a workout as prescribed.

The implementation of programming that takes away the competition and stresses an improvement of the aerobic system can be instrumental in improving recovery and resiliency and help you become a much better CrossFitter. Conversely, if you subscribe to the methodology and only build value in work that leaves you on the floor, your clients will burnout. You can almost set your watch to it.

After 5-week of the CrossFit Open, it’s more than likely your members are going to feel the “burn out.” This is a great time to introduce a new program like a Barbell Club where members can take a break from competition and high-intensity conditioning. Put simply; your clients are likely to be feeling the effects after the Open is over for a few reasons.

It’s not because these workouts are outside of the norm of typical programming that includes a healthy dose of higher-threshold work. They are burned out because they have pushed themselves harder than they ever have. Competition brings out the best in us but also places high demands on the body.

This is where overtraining can begin. Add on a poor diet, stressful job, and lack of sleep, and you have a perfect storm in which your clients may start to blame CrossFit, and never return to your facility. It happens regularly, but can be prevented if we are smarter.

Being smarter means, we have to include low-demand work. Regularly. Not just once in a while, but on a weekly basis. It also means that we need to build value in this work and educate our clients to the “why” behind we do ask them to perform “non-sexy work.” A typical week should separate high-intensity work by 48-72 hours. A typical week should include work that is low-demand and does not entail competing with your peers.

It’s obvious you care about your clients, their longevity, and their success in your program, so start educating them on the value of low-demand work. It’s easy to fall into the trap of giving your clients what they want, but the question is what do they need?

Poll your clients on things like how many hours a night do they sleep, how many healthy meals a day do they eat, what is their job like; things give you concrete proof of what your clients will respond best to. I can almost guarantee you that you’ll see the need for low-demand work supersedes the need for high-demand work.

If you didn’t care about your clients, you wouldn’t have opened a gym, which we know. Take the next step with your level of care and build value in work that does not leave your clients lying dead on the floor after every session. I’m not saying don’t ever push your clients; quite the contrary. Push them with a plan in mind. Your plan needs to take their already high levels of stress into account.

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