It’s a difficult balance, consistency vs intensity. Intensity is a cornerstone of CrossFit methodology. And yes, it is important that certain workouts are high intensity. But another key to actually seeing results from a fitness or diet plan is consistency.
For some people consistency is easy. They like routine and structure in their day to day lives. For others, it can be more difficult to maintain and follow a plan. And while the stimulus of an individual WOD might be intensity, the goal for health and fitness is to be consistent with your effort.
Is consistency better than intensity?
When it comes to your fitness and you’re wondering about consistency vs intensity, the answer is to go with consistency. Here is why.
Choosing a health/fitness/diet plan shouldn’t be difficult but it is. With literally hundreds of different options out there, who knows what to pick?! Do you go with intermittent fasting, keto, macros, CrossFit, cycling, weightlifting, movnat, yoga…? And the list goes on and on.
A large majority of us are attracted to the latest and greatest. When anything new comes out or some sort of exercise gains popularity, people flock to it.
Most of these ‘fireworks’ are very fickle. I say fireworks because these are the people who start something and have tons of enthusiasm and are overly excited. But, for most of these people, that excitement and enthusiasm is hot and fast burning. They quickly lose interest. With a bang, pop or fizzle they are gone. Onto the next thing.
I think it is important to try and experience every opportunity one gets. However if you want to see results it is important to stay consistent and with a program long enough to see those results.
This philosophy means that when starting a program it should be easy, practical, and enjoyable. This helps most people to become consistent. These principles allow the large majority to see regular and steady progress over a long period of time. As much as people like new and shiny things, they are addicted to results. Fitness helps you feel and look amazing.
Intensity can be dangerous
I think every member at Buffalo Nickel CrossFit has had a period of absences at some point. Vacation, work, surgeries, and life in general can keep people busy. Sometimes a week or two from the gym just happens. This is probably the case with anyone reading this as well.
We all know how it feels that first day or two back after being gone for a week or so. It is rough, we feel slow, or like we have lost everything we worked so hard for. Our joints feel tight, and we probably breathe a little harder than we did when we were consistent.
When you are consistent, and exercise 3-5 times a week, you might be sore and tired, but after a warm up you probably feel okay and ready to work out. That is the consistency doing its job.
Remember how you felt after 2 weeks off, and now imagine that you are going to try a 1 rep max deadlift. After your attempt you will take 2 weeks off, and try it again. You will continue to do this for 8 weeks total. I think anyone would agree this can be dangerous. You could get seriously injured not doing anything for 2 weeks, walking in and trying to move heavy weight.
Intensity probably won’t get you the results you want
Let’s flip the coin now. You have just started a new training program from Buff-flex-stud-muffin that promises you will be strong, have a 6 pack, and only have to work out 30 minutes a day for 4 weeks.
So you complete your 4 weeks. It was really hard but you made it and now you are wiped out and just need a couple days to rest. But a couple days turns into a week, which turns into a month, and then 3 months.
You fireworked! You came in hot and fast, but it was too hot, you couldn’t maintain that heat for very long. And now you are so burned out that it’s hard to start again. Your results are gone, and you are left feeling demotivated instead of inspired to keep going.
Consistency vs intensity: what to take away
Be consistent. Some days you may not feel like exercising or you look at the WOD before leaving the house and decide that looks hard and you don’t want to do it. But go do it anyway. You will feel better and you will have checked off one more consistency box. Plus, the great thing about CrossFit is that it promotes variation across workouts. We recommend getting in cardio, strength training, bodyweight fitness, team sports…anything you want, just to stay active.
When and if you choose a new program, make sure it is easy, practical, and enjoyable starting out. When I say easy I mean easy to follow. If your program looks like an IKEA instruction manual you might have to try even harder to be consistent with it. Try to find a balance of consistency vs intensity, and you’ll be an unstoppable force.