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Intensity is the single most useful tool for growth and adaptation

Mechanics and consistency are important too. But your results will plateau early without the proper dose of high-intensity work. Below are a few ways in which we can physically and mentally be ready to express intensity in your training:

  1. Scale workouts to a level that pushes you but doesn’t break you. It’s no secret that I think coaching is more important than programming. If your workout contains skills, weights, or volume not adjusted to your capacity, your intensity will suffer. Modify parameters to meet the workout stimulus; don’t fall in the Rx ditch. It’s a novice’s curse.
  2. High intensity doesn’t mean “all out” effort. Find a strategy, with the help of a coach, that pushes you to your threshold (max sustainable pace). This yields the greatest training effect. Intensity will be constrained by several factors, many being within the stimulus of the workout. A 10k run will be different from ‘Fran’ will be different from high-skill gymnastics. With the proper strategy and modifications, you can apply a threshold effort to any workout.
  3. The most important factor is last; what you’re doing outside the gym to help preserve your physical and mental ability to do threshold training. Think of this as your hygiene (the term recovery seems silly in this context). Training hard day after day requires a baseline level of maintenance on yourself: your nutrition, your sleep, and your stress are the most important factors. Dial in these 3 before any supplements, gear, or gimmick to increase your ability to perform.

Putting these pieces together — with training several times a week (consistency) and practicing movement (mechanics) — you will achieve fitness. Address these factors before you even consider doing a higher volume of training — intensity is the shortcut you’re looking for.

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