Intensity is Key

Short & Sweet vs. Slow & Steady

It's really pretty simple

Next week our focus will be on intensity.  Intensity is the key to making changes in performance and body composition.  


Intensity is defined (and quantified) as force x distance / time.  It’s easier to create greater intensity over longer time periods, since it's assumed that force or distance  (or both) also increase with time.  Creating intensity in short time domains can be challenging, and sometimes requires specific skill and a high level of conditioning to be effective and safe.


For example, if a person is asked to cover the distance of one mile as fast as he can, a few things could happen:  someone who is de-conditioned might be able to walk the mile at a fast pace, and for that individual’s level of fitness, the intensity level might be very high.  However, if the mile was divided into 8 sets of  200 meters each,  it might be more challenging to achieve the same level of intensity.  Due to the short distance of 200 meters, walking it fast would not be challenging enough, even for someone who isn't very fit.  To reach a level of intensity high enough to result in changes to body composition and / or performance, it would most likely take a full sprint with an all-out effort on every 200-meter segment.  However, a sprint like this takes great skill and conditioning.


Always striving for something faster, heavier, and quicker is obviously more challenging.  The theory of  metabolic training certainly applies to this situation.  Work that is short and aggressive forces the body to adapt more quickly than work that is long and slow.  Shorter high-intensity intervals have proven to not only burn more calories, but also burn more fat, increase lean muscle mass, and increase performance and hormone optimization.  In addition to increasing performance, bio markers such as cholesterol, blood pressure, and metabolism also improve.  Believe it or not, performing shorter, high-intensity segments of work also helps increase the ability to perform longer efforts of work.  


While long, slow work efforts are beneficial, changes in body composition and performance improvements will appear more slowly.  Long, slow work efforts are good for variety but it's generally much more difficult to achieve or sustain a high level of intensity for long periods of time.   We have to utilize short, high intensity work and sprinkle some long slow workouts into our programming as well.  Yes, we have to do both!

See you in the gym!