High intensity training—it’s what we do, right? Well, it’s part of what we do. It is probably what most people outside our circle, misconstrue our training program is all about. Intensity (in training), however, is also misconstrued as a feeling.

By that I mean the harder a person is perceived to be working, the higher the intensity. The problem with defining intensity as effort is that on any given day a particular amount or type of work could be perceived as less or more intense. That's why in training the only feelings we're most concerned about are happiness and fun 😉

So what then is intensity? Intensity is defined exactly as power (output), and power is the time rate of doing work.

Power = (Force x Distance) ÷ time

Force is the load being moved over a particular amount of reps, whether it's just your body or an object. Distance refers to the distance the load is being moved over a particular amount of reps. If it's just your bodyweight we look at the distance your centre of mass travels. And time refers to the time you complete the work in.

In a time priority workout where the time is fixed, do more work for a greater power output. In a task priority workout where the task is fixed, do the work faster for a bigger power output.

Intensity is the variable associated with maximising the amount of favourable adaptation to training. That means the higher the intensity (power output), the better and faster the results will be.

Now that I've said all of that, I do think that power output a.k.a intensity is associated with some feeling. Most commonly, the feeling of discomfort. When you've optimised a workout correctly, you're able to move really fast with good technique, and when that happens, it gets uncomfortable!

So you'd rather add load or do the more complex movement—you go “RXd,” and that requires you to move a bit slower.

But don't kid yourself, RXd doesn’t necessarily mean more intensity 😉

Darren Ellis