Why Low Intensity Training Is Just As Important

As a coach I have seen and trained hundreds of people from all walks of life with different goals and results in mind. When it comes to CrossFit and becoming more competitive people just seem to think that going hammer and tongs everyday is the way to progress. I’m just going to clear one thing up that hopefully teaches anybody reading this why going balls to the wall is not the best way for a couple of reasons.

Reason 1) To become fitter you need to become stronger, think 1RM Hang Snatch at Regionals or the 1RM OHS at the Games.

Reason 2) To become fitter you need to be able to do more work in a set time or the same work in less time, think most traditional WODs that involve AMRAPS or RFT (Rounds For Time).

Now this post is called ‘Why Low Intensity Training Is Just As Important’ and I am going to explain it to you base off of the above two reasons. The first point is related to ‘Reason 1’ and the second point to ‘Reason 2’. You will soon see that there are two ways to become stronger and two ways to be able to ‘work faster’.

Point 1) ‘Reason 1’ is about strength. Strength is not ‘for time’, it is literally the amount of weight (load) you can move. Like stated previously, there are two ways to get strong.

     A) Improving the energy system responsible for strength increase:

This involves a smart training program. High intensity through volume and/or load and appropriate rest to allow the body to recover. To get stronger you need to rest. Strength is predominantly the nervous systems ability to recruit more muscle fibers during it’s contraction and the nervous system can take anywhere between 1 – 7 days and sometimes even more to fully recover. If you just lift heavy weights (above 75% 1RM) everyday doing big compound lifts your body will struggle to recover. The amount of times people take a few weeks off from training and then come back to hit a PR is ridiculous. Resting is when you make your gains!

     B) Body position & movement:

This is the first real reason ‘Why Low Intensity Training Is Just As Important’. This is what you would call better technique. Your body isn’t actually any stronger but through using correct technique you will lift bigger weights and become stronger on paper, which is what matters. This is where low intensity training means everything. Snatching is a perfect example. I know people that can deadlift and squat huge weights and would appear to be strong, however they couldn’t power snatch (less flexibility required) anywhere near the equivalent weight. Just doing heavy high intensity snatching will be a slow way to results. Doing low intensity, quality skill work will increase your snatch/power snatch numbers significantly quicker and on paper you will be a lot stronger!

Low intensity training = better technique, better technique = strength, strength = increase in fitness!

Point 2) During ‘Reason 2’ we talk about doing more work in the same time (AMRAP) or doing the same work in less time (Rounds For Time). There are 2 ways to increase your fitness during these scenarios. One way is to physically increase the ability of your energy systems to store and utilise energy and the other is to become more efficient in your movement so that you use less energy doing the same work, which is the point I want to make clear. .

     A) The ability of your energy systems to store and use energy:

This is all about training smart and following a program that targets energy systems, especially the area’s you lack in. Interval training is great on high intensity days and long slow efforts are great for low intensity days and both are equally important.

     B) Become more efficient in movement:

Here is the second real reason ‘Why Low Intensity Training Is Just As Important’. If you move efficiently, you will save yourself energy, with that saved energy you will be able to do more work while the person next to you rests. To become more efficient you need to learn the correct technique. To learn correct technique you are best to do it at light load in a controlled environment.

Low intensity training = better technique, better technique = efficiency, efficiency = increase in fitness!

Hopefully now you can see ‘Why Low Intensity Training Is Just As Important’. It caters for 50% of getting fitter!!

If anyone reading this follows the Underground Program or is personally coached by me you will see that I very often program RFQ (Rounds For Quality). This is where the focus is on the quality of the movement which gains the ability to save energy. This is the stuff we focus on in the general preparation phase of training so that when it comes time to ramp up for competition you are moving like water.

Bruce Lee

Bruce Lee

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