When Enough Is Too Much: Understanding Volume and Intensity

Via Tabatatimes.com


“Let’s be honest: we aren’t all in our twenties. Maybe not quite old enough to be considered an old guy but a few years removed from being able to be called a young buck. With the demands of a full-time job and a family to take care of, we do not have an abundance of free time. So we MAKE time for our workouts, but we will never be able to be the guy who lives in the gym and spends hours working out everyday. When we are young we can get away with this. Taking extra time to spend working on lifts, or working to squeeze that extra WOD in during the day. It’s as if there is no much thing as too much, and too much was never enough. But regardless of how much we work out, we must always take recovery into account.


We train and damage our bodies so that we can rest and get stronger. The amount of work that we do determines the amount of recovery time that we need. We all have a constant desire to get better and only a limited time during the day to work. This means that we must learn to work smarter and not just train more for the sake of saying how much we train. One of the keys to doing this is learning to manage training volume and intensity. First we must understand what volume and intensity means: Volume refers to the total amount of force production or work, whereas intensity or power is the relationship of that performed work in reference to time.

Volume, Power, and Intensity

Volume is (Force x Distance); however, we have to take into account that we do not always do just one rep. Generally in the case of multiple reps we are performing to the same range of motion standards. So in the course of a single exercise, our (distance) will remain constant, thus our formula for work can be more appropriately expressed as:

Volume = (Force x Repetitions Performed)

For example, if we were doing 5 reps of 225 pounds, then we are looking at 1125 lbs of work. Or if we want to see the total for a specific workout, then:

225 lbs x 5 Reps for 5 Sets = 5625 lbs of work

One way to look at this is to take a few minutes after your strength work and calculate the total amount of weight that you moved and work that you performed. If you look at this information over time, you will find that your training should result in your ability to perform a higher volume of work. A deeper look will find that if you program several high volume days without allowing enough time to recover, then your performance quickly starts to drop.

In CrossFit we introduce a dynamic element to a lot of our lifts. We do not just do slow reps. We jump, we clean, we jerk, we snatch, we swing and we kip. We introduce this explosive element that leads us to have to take into account our power output when we talk about our workouts. We use Power output as a means to calculate our Intensity. Continued…

About the Author

Leave a Reply



Please enter the CAPTCHA text