Nucleus Training Blog #005 3/7/19

Intensity…where the magic happens!

I was listening to a podcast and read a few articles lately about intensity and it made me think of a way to explain how we should be thinking of intensity in our training each day. Hope this helps!


Let’s go on a little journey with your imagination. First, picture a jar (the size doesn’t matter at this time), and then I want you to imagine 10 marbles. Starting from a completely fresh physical and mental state you decide to crush a 60-minute workout session with everything you got. 100% effort/intensity meaning you give everything you have and you are basically “competing.” So lets take all 10 marbles and put them into the jar, this jar will represent your body and it’s ability to handle more. Now in order to be able to find intensity again we need to start actively removing some marbles from the jar before we train again to have more “room” to add marbles again. Take 1 out for eating 2+ servings of Veggies/Greens (heaping servings), take another 1 out for eating an adequate amount of protein (1gram/1lb of body weight, 150lb person needs 150 grams of protein to earn the marble removal). Take another 1 out for 10 minutes of stretching immediately after your workout. Take another 1 out if you got 8 hours of sleep, take out 2 marbles if you got 9+ instead of 8 hours. Take 2 marbles out if you spend 20+ minutes on some active mobility/soft tissue work (massage, foam rolling, etc…). Take another one out if you spend 20+ minutes on mental restoration (yoga, reading a book, playing music, taking a Epsom salt bath with all the smell good oils, doing arts/crafts, meditation, taking a hike in nature, anything that makes you feel good mentally).


So, if you have done everything above you should only have 2 marbles left in the jar for tomorrows training session/workout. However, any of the boxes you didn’t check that marble stays in there… Lets think about this for “most” people on “most” days: not a chance we are getting 8 hours of sleep with how busy we are with kids and work (that’s 2 more back in), Veggies??? Maybe but don’t lie to yourself either, and who is really eating enough protein every day? (Let’s add a marble back for this one). When was the last time you spent an extra 20 minutes or more on a foam roller or that once a month massage so sometimes you might get to keep that one out but MOSTdays it is staying in the jar. I’m going out on a limb here and saying about 50% of the people I see truly take 10 minutes after a workout to stretch EVERYday, so we will keep it out but you know most of you that marble isn’t going anywhere. Hopefully we take 20 minutes to ourselves every day for mental restoration, even with our busy schedules, I’ll keep this marble out. I’m being generous here but that puts 5 more marbles back into the jar leaving 7. Now it’s time to workout again and you try to throw 10 more marbles back in the jar, maybe there is room today being only day 2 in a row. You’re feeling a bit sorer so you do some extra mobility, get a full 8 hours of sleep (no time for 9 though), and eat a bit more protein. That leaves us only adding 3 for todays workout good job, BUT there is now 10 marbles total in the jar after 2 training days. Day 3 here we go. We are feeling the last two days now so day 3 we only give 80% effort meaning we only add 8 marbles into the jar. Eventually, that jar will over flow and that is when bad things start happening: unnecessary fatigue, unnecessary injuries/pain, and more.


I think you see where I’m going with this. If were not actively removing those marbles EVERY day we cannot hang on to competing daily. Intensity is where the magic happens, yes, but it’s the appropriate dose of intensity each day is the real MAGIC. And each day that intensity will look different depending on outside the gym stresses as well. There is an old saying that 80% effort 100% of the time gets you 90% results. For those of us that like to workout 5 days in a row it is almost worse for you to try and dump 10 marbles in all 5 days and it is OK to hit a day where you’re just moving and its more likely going to help you take marbles out versus adding more to the jar/ a good flush day.


Here is my daily marble example for a week: Day 1, 10, Day 2, 8, Day 3… Day 3 is tricky for me some times I’m riding on 4-6 hours of sleep, some days I’m beat up from the first two days, sometimes I’m loaded up with a busy schedule which adds a little mental stress that my body has to deal with… So day 3 can be anywhere from a flush removing a few marbles, a full on rest/sauna day, an 8, or anywhere in between just focusing on whatever it is that day I want to get better. I let my body and the way I feel dictate my intensity because every week is different. Day 4… well that depends on what day 3 was like, sometimes it’s a rest day, a flush day, or if I rested Day 3 I crank it up a little, Day 5 also depends on the past two days.


The ultimate goal is to remember that this is a lifestyle and the goal is to move daily for overall health, bring those 10 marble days when you can but they won’t be there every day and that is ok. Our goal is to be fitter and healthier to do cool life things outside the gym. I don’t want you too beat up you can’t climb the bleachers to the nosebleed to enjoy a hockey game with your family (it happens sure but we can avoid it most times). Our training should make that easier not more difficult. Were looking for a lifetime of fitness, which is hard to achieve by hammering yourself as if you’re a nail 5-6 days a week every week. Things will start to happen, nagging injuries will occur and won’t go away. Remember that EVERY day should have a certain thought process: Mechanics first, Consistent mechanics even under heavy load and fatigue, and then find your “relative” intensity which can be different form person to person day to day and even movement to movement.


Don’t misunderstand the above and think I’m trying to tell you to get rid of intensity. I’m looking to highlight the word “relative” that sits right in front of intensity when we talk about it. Don’t just hammer the nail. Be more methodical and smart, train more (yes you’ll be sweating and out of breath and feeling like you got a good workout in every time you train just not beat up), “compete” less, and focus on what YOU need to do each day to stay healthy and get a good workout in.


Good nutrition and smart consistent training will ultimately leave you feeling good and looking good for a really long time. That should be our goal.

  • Mike Whetstone/Co-Owner-Coach