In Basics

June 01, 2005

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Scott Semple offers a cautionary tale, born of personal experience, about the importance of consistency before intensity.

Training to failure (all the time) is failing to train. Last winter, after throwing myself into CrossFit with my usual enthusiasm, I tanked. I wore myself out, and I was sick for six weeks. It was months before I fully recovered.

Focus on the volume of work prescribed, not on the loads. The Workout of the Day is designed for the fittest of the fit. Unless you’ve been doing CrossFit for years—or unless your genetic code has something that mine doesn’t—I suggest making reps a higher priority than loads.

Scale prescribed workouts according to bodyweight. If full-load workouts are nearly within reach, I suggest scaling them according to bodyweight before attempting the full prescription.

Use speed as an intensifier before weight. Once a personalized WOD has been achieved, I make a faster result, rather than an increase in weight, my goal on subsequent performances of that WOD.

Most importantly, low motivation does not necessarily mean that you’re lazy. Lowered motivation may be your body’s way of recruiting your emotions as a messenger that it needs a break. I suspect that most CrossFitters are action-oriented people, so a day or two of sloth or lethargy may not mean you’re a slacker. It could be precisely the necessary Workout of the Day for you.

I lost more than half a season to unrealistic expectations and a childish “more is better” approach to climbing and CrossFit. Now that I’ve committed to the process rather than the result and can be consistent in my workouts, my training is more effective and even more enjoyable.

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3 Comments on “Consistency Before Intensity”


wrote …

Extremely well written and to the point. I should have subscribed to the Journal a year and a half ago. I probably wouldn't have gotten burned out like I am now. I have gotten sick as well from pushing too hard too fast.


wrote …

Very important article, at least for me. I suppose there are many like me here, who have a tendency to overdo exercising. I think I may have burned out a couple of years ago with crossfit, although some life-related events helped that along, too. That's another point to make. Life events, moving, major job changes, etc. WILL affect your capacity to maintain a regimen. I was too inflexible at the time, and got sick a lot for a few months. Stopped CF for a long time after that. Now, I'm doing the CF Football workouts, and when I have to, due to time constraints, or energy constraints, I just do one part of the workout. My goal is to complete a certain number of cycles. It doesn't matter how long it takes. That's the point. If it takes me two weeks to do one cycle, then, so be it.


wrote …

I like how Semple made the suggestion to scale according to my bodyweight. Choosing a working load based off of my bodyweight seems pretty cool.

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