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Can I Do Extra Push Ups?

Said no one ever. Nor has anyone ever asked to add calories to the row or meters to the run. No one wants to do extra pull-ups or sit-ups for obvious reasons. Adding reps or distance to the workout as it was written would generally result in a slower time, lower score and generally degraded positioning on the big screen o known as “The Whiteboard”. All of the above are perfectly sensible but generally a less than scientific logic to arrive at what really matters- intensi

During strength training intensity is easy to understand and manages itself- the weight on the bar. Either you can squat it or you can’t. You get below parallel and stand back up or you crumble. Not too much to debate or argue in those scenarios and we’ve all been on both sides of that equation.

It is during conditioning (the WOD) that many of us need to be reminded that intensity is where progress lives. “Going RX”, particularly with barbell movement, doesn’t mean anything if it took 8 minutes longer than the average or resulted in 2 less rounds than it should have. A well-written program is generally designed so that less than 10% of the population can maintain the intensity level expected at the prescribed movement. Those percentages mean most of us should not be able to “RX” every day.

Intensity during the WOD can be like the snow leopard; a deceiving an elusive creature. If the goal time for a particular workout is 10 minutes and doing the RX version takes you 15 minutes you might believe you worked hard and that thought is reinforced by the mental and physical feeling you had at the end- lying on the floor writhing in agony. How you “feel” at the end is not nearly as important as what happened during the WOD. Below is a scenario that has played out several times a week in CrossFit Metanoia:

RX WOD should take about 10 minutes to complete, athlete takes 15 minutes:

0-3 minutes of full effort intensity

2-4 minutes of moderate degrading to low intensity

5-7 minutes of 15-20 seconds of work followed by 45 seconds of “rest”

In the above scenario that is 3 minutes participating at the level where “gains” happen followed by 12 minutes of moderate, bordering on no intensity coupled with a 15 minute WOD that was supposed to take 10. The unfortunate truth is that the individual doing the work is still crushed at the end and believes they have made progress when they are moving progressively backwards when it comes to increasing their work capacity. Ignoring suggestion and coaching led to a “redline” at the 3-4 minute mark and then a consistent degradation of performance as the athlete tried to recover from the initial “redline” while still working.

Total Reps in WOD

Percentage of 1RM

Unbroken Reps


40% or less














                                                                                                       If you want to make your workout “harder”, go faster. Adding weight, reps or movement that is outside your skill can not only be dangerous, but it is a subtle way to lower your intensity. RX is prescribed, occasionally RX+ options will be possible- if that seems “too easy” then you better outperform the population. Otherwise you are adding weight because you can’t get out of the way of your own ego, or you’re trying to take it easy while you convince yourself that you made it more difficult.

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