Intensity Over Volume with Chuck Carswell


I’ll tell you a story—Chris Spealler often talks a little bit about this, he’s in Park City, Utah, a pretty cool little town, but again, one of those scenarios where it’s endurance based and people don’t want to add a lot of weight. Often what he’ll do is he’ll slip weight on the bar without people knowing it and it’s like “Oh my god, Chris, this is so dog gone heavy. I can’t believe you’ve got me lifting all of this weight.” If you’re talking and lifting, it’s probably not all that heavy. So more than anything I would say it comes back to education but Number 2, it’s got to go back to what are you here for? What’s your goal? What’s your result? What are you looking for out of this program? Are you looking for the check in the box ‘Fitness’? If you are, then OK, I get it, maybe we talk offline about your results and be more specific about what you need to do to continue to get results. But more than anything else—when we talk about going to a 5 a.m. and a 6 a.m.—Coach Glassman used to say this quite regularly. He says, “Be more impressed by intensity, not by volume.” So many of our people want to run now to the old volume, volume, volume, and that’s not the secret to the results. The secret to the results is to go faster. That’s the secret—more intensity. We need more intensity. So, if you want to continue to get your results, you want to continue to do whatever it was you did when you came to this facility—if that’s your goal—what I need from you is more intensity. And where that comes is right back to this area right here. Force—maybe adding a little more load. Instead of power cleans we increase the amount of work that’s being done, we go full-blown squat cleans. Or we make them go faster. We lower the time in the amount of work that’s actually given. Student: That’s what Rich Froning does. Rich Froning does? Yes, he also eats peanut butter cookies and milk shakes and all that stuff. He’s an anomaly. And so the last thing I want to end on—I’ll talk to you offline if you can— these guys that are Games athletes are really, really unique. They are very, very small segment of our community. Very small segment. And essentially, if you’re talking about this being an example of our entire community at our box—if that’s your community—the CrossFit Games athlete represents about this much of the pie. It’s a very small percentage. Here’s what having a Games athlete in your gym does for you: It doesn’t bring you, necessarily, more clients. What it does is it provides an experience of expectation in the gym that these things are possible. What that does is is it should increase that intensity level across your entire gym. We’ve said before, “Men will die for points.” They will go in if they’re in the right environment. Having a Games athlete in your box allows the community in and of itself to feel what’s actually up at the ultimate goal. But please, be very careful about taking what you currently have built and trying to focus it all on Games athletes. Remember, most of these guys have different schedules, and different goals for what they’re after. And most of our clients can’t go there because they have other things on their plate and other agendas. Be very, very careful with that.

15 Replies to “Intensity Over Volume with Chuck Carswell”

  1. So intensity means faster? I get it, 5am to 6am, but I think people might be trying to get too much out of one hour. I love my 2-3 hour workouts. I feel like I get more out of it per hour. Maybe not quite as intense, but constant movement and less time warming up for each hour.

  2. Мне, как специалисту по спортивной адаптологии, смешно слушать такие семинары… Умозрительные и эмпирически "подкованные" теорие построения тренировочного процесса как хороший анекдот всегда. Такое городят, что волосы дыбом. Одна дескридитация кроссфита и лекции для Гомера Симпсона…Нда…

  3. I know Chuck isn't arguing against building work capacity but I think it's interesting how many people with older training ages (lifelong athletes) seem to preach a "redline" mentality and forget about the fact that without a base, there is no peak.  

  4. I had to chime in on this one. I don't think Chuck means make your SESSIONS faster, I think he means crank up the intensity of the particular WOD. If you want results stop "pacing" and go ham. Only in training though obviously not a competition setting. Stop making 6-8 minute wods last 12-13 minutes because you rested too much or went too heavy.

  5. I agree that intensity is important. However, Chuck himself made a comment several years ago during a WOD that maintaining the level of intensity that CrossFit requires on a daily basis is very hard. I find that after 8 years of doing CrossFit 3-5 times a week, I cannot mentally or physically be as intense as I was when I started. This could be a result of age, lifestyle, diet or a combination of all three. I do know that the CrossFit model works so I will continue to do it just at a lower level of intensity. It goes back to scaling. We do it with weight and we have to accept that we have to do it with intensity as well. 

  6. Had to have open heart surgery to close a hole in my heart and now I have to have a pacemaker put in I use to be a power lifter and I want to known if I can do dis

  7. With an intention of proper periodization and durability for an athlete, intensity and volume may be the same thing.

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