Are Short High Intensity Workouts Effective? | CrossFit Salus

Are Short High Intensity Workouts Effective?

short high intensity workouts

Are short high intensity workouts effective? Many people assume more is better. But, that’s not always (and often isn’t) the case.

It’s a question that comes up frequently, especially when it comes to CrossFit. “Is that it?” The question of whether short high intensity workouts are effective raises an interesting topic:

Short vs Long? Which is better?

The Great Debate: Short High Intensity vs Long Workouts?

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A classic example of a short, high intensity is the workout, Fran. Comprised of a simple couplet of thrusters and pull-ups, this workout can push an athlete deep into their anaerobic threshold (where the intensity is high enough to trigger lactic acid).

The other side of the spectrum would be something like a 10K run or a CrossFit Endurance class. Longer duration. Slower pace. Of course, athletes who prioritize longer, aerobic workouts over shorter, anaerobic workouts have different goals. Endurance athletes can improve blood flow, reduce stress, and decrease the risk for heart disease.

But, many studies have shown that short bursts of high-intensity interval training can be more effective than 45 minutes of less strenuous exertion. And, according to CrossFit Founder and CEO Greg Glassman, “Anaerobic activity also benefits cardiovascular function and decreases body fat! In fact, anaerobic exercise is superior to aerobic exercise for fat loss! Anaerobic activity is, however, unique in its capacity to dramatically improve power, speed, strength, and muscle mass.”

These two workouts represent opposite goals when it comes to intensity vs volume. Fran is relatively low volume, but very high intensity. A 10K, however, is higher volume and lower intensity. They also have their own benefits.

More is Not Better. Better is Better.

There seems to be a misconception that increasing time or volume is going to get you better results. Most people assume more is better. If they don’t spend a full hour sweating, they don’t feel like they accomplished anything. But that couldn’t be further from the truth.

Longer workouts aren’t necessarily better.

Better is better.

What we mean by that is putting your FULL effort into your workout. Whether you’re learning how to pace the longer, endurance workouts or you’re getting out of your comfort zone for the short high intensity workouts, give it your all.

Different People. Different Goals.

Of course, all of this depends on what your goals are.

As coaches, it is our job to program an effective (and fun) mix of workouts that expose our members to a wide range of exercises, intensities and volume. Some days you might see a 40 minute workout, some days it might be a four minute workout. Either way, intensity will always come after the athlete has demonstrated solid movement, performed consistently.

Strive for Consistency

No matter what your goal is, consistency is the key to making progress. If you’ve ever looked at a workout that you didn’t like (we all have those days), just remember that “cherry-picking” will only hold you back as you’ll be missing an important piece of the puzzle. Your coach has programmed that workout for a reason.

Consistency = Results.

Make a commitment to do the workout, no matter what it is. Then remind yourself of how awesome you are that you showed up (that’s half the battle).

Be patient with yourself. Your weaknesses will soon become strengths.

Relish in every victory (even the little ones) and crush it! You’re awesome!

Do you have questions about the programming at the box? We’d be happy to chat! Contact Coach Gino or Coach Angela at