CrossFit is all about intensity. Intensity is correlated with power output. The more power you can put out, the better your results will be across the board. For example, a 165lb guy who does Fran RX’d in 2:15 averages about 345 watts, or 0.46 horsepower over the course of that workout (that’s a lotta power). That same guy, if he were to do Fran in 5:45, only puts out about 135 watts, or 0.18 horsepower over the course of that workout.
As time goes by, you can watch your power output go up in each workout. As your power output goes up, you know you are getting fit in many different ways. For example, over one year, I cut nearly 15 seconds off of my 400m run time, without having run barely at all that whole time. The key was, CrossFit helped me be able to put out a lot more power, which means that by the 200m mark, I was finally starting to breathe a little harder, where before, I’d be gasping 50m into the run. Power is king in life.
Of course not every workout is going to have a high average power output. Things like a 1RM deadlift by definition aren’t very fast, even though they are in fact intense and difficult. Similarly, doing 26 rounds of Cindy is near-heroic, but not very powerful in the grand scheme of things. What you will see is perfectly in line with one of the most basic principles of CrossFit, namely the energy pathways:
- Short duration (<10 second) bursts of power allow extremely high power output. A 1RM Power Clean, which takes 1 second, has an average power output of about 1500 watts, or just over 2 horsepower.
- Moderate duration (10 seconds to about 1-2 minutes) efforts allow high power output. The above Fran example is getting towards the trailing edge of this range, and has a high power output.
- Long duration (>2 minutes up to infinity) – Allows lower power output for sustained durations. A 4 minute mile has begun using this as the primary pathway, as have most workouts where there is continuous effort such as Run 5k, Row 2k, 500 Squats for time, etc. What? You can’t do 500 continuous squats?
The key is, maximizing your power output in ALL of the energy pathways.
See the free issue of the CrossFit Journal for more info on these pathways, and other great information.
So, with this in mind, I have put together a handy dandy tool that will calculate your power output for any particular workout. It’ll also show the total amount of work performed in the workout. PLUS, what’s really cool is, since you were created differently than every other person on the planet, you put in your personal information like height, weight, and even the length of each segment of your body (torso, head & neck, upper arm, forearm, etc), and it will calculate YOUR power output based on YOUR body dimensions. Believe it or not, you could have a lower tabata squat score than your friend who’s the same weight, but still be putting out more power if your body dimensions were different enough.
Here’s the features of this nifty little program:
- Calculates your power output for any workout.
- Quickly displays customized power output for you based on your weight, height, body length segments, etc)
- Has functionality for any girl or hero WOD.
- Will be adding other common WOD’s in the future (Filthy 50, etc)
- Make *sure* you enter your body data in the “Anthropometry” worksheet before using the calculator. You only need to enter this data once.
Trust me when I say this, it is *way* less complicated than it looks. It is made to open up to the “Anthropometry” sheet first so you remember to fill in your info (you can even guess your dimensions if you want, but it won’t be very accurate). The next sheet has all the info on it for workouts. Try a few out and play around with it.