What is Intensity? (July 2021)

What is Intensity?

When looking at the definition of Crossfit, we are presented with three distinct parts. Constantly varied functional movements performed at high intensity. We discussed “constantly varied” in March, and now we are going to tackle the last part – intensity. And you can probably see where we will be going after that…

First off, what is intensity? Generally, people think of intensity from their previous fitness experiences. The endurance community thinks intensity is a high heart rate, and the bodybuilding community thinks of it as yelling and screaming  as they lift massive amounts of weight. You know, things that people look at and think, “wow, that is intense!”

However, in Crossfit, we define intensity as something else, and for good reason. For example, you can watch a scary movie and have a high heart rate. Are you getting fitter? Or, imagine that one person who is bicep curling with 10# dumbbells and making a huge ruckus, sweating and yelling all over the place. Is that intense? I think we could argue in both cases: No. Not to say that these things aren’t part of intensity and might be related, but they do not define intensity.

Crossfit defines intensity directly as power (took that one from the exercise physiologists). What is power then? Well, if you remember your high-school physics, power is Force times Distance, divided by Time. Force times Distance happens to be Work, and we can therefore state that intensity is maximizing the amount of work performed in a certain amount of time. This intensity is measurable, and comparable between different individuals and between the same individual at different points in time. Let’s explore these three variables a little more.

Force: Force is equal to mass times acceleration (more physics for you), but for our purposes, I want you to think of it as weight. How much does the movement weigh? This includes both the external object (if one is present) and the bodyweight of the individual. Because in a thruster, you are not only moving the barbell, you are also moving your body, and the force needs to account for both pieces.

Distance: Pretty simple really, how far you, or an object (or both), travel. This could be a linear distance as in a run or a swim, or it could be a vertical distance as in a squat or press. To measure the distance, you literally measure how far the object or your center of mass actually moves in each movement.

Time: Also pretty simple. How long does the movement, set, or workout take? This is why we use a clock for all of our workouts.

Using these variables we can accurately measure the amount of work and power that is being performed in a movement or a workout. You may be asking yourself, which of these variables is the most important one to manipulate your intensity? Probably the easiest one is to modify the loading or force component, which is why the load is often the first thing you will end up changing when scaling a movement. However, lowering the weight does not always lower the intensity. Bear with me on this. Let’s say you lower the weight on a workout, but as a result, it allows you to move through the workout more consistently and you finish the workout three minutes faster than if you would have used a heavier weight. Depending on the difference in the weights used in this hypothetical situation, the reduction in time may be big enough to actually result in an increased intensity compared to the slower, heavier workout – math can be pretty neat sometimes.

The only time that increasing a load makes things more intense is when you can do the same amount of work in a relatively similar amount of time. For instance, Fran RXed at 3:00 is more intense than Fran with 75# at 2:45. However, Fran RXed in 3:00 is probably not more intense than Fran at 75# in 1:25. For more reading on how playing with weight and time can affect intensity, check out this old Crossfit Journal article.

All of this looks good on paper, sure, but how do you know what is more intense and what you need each day? Talk to your coaches! We will help you figure out the best plan of action for you based on the day, and get you the appropriate amount of intensity based on the workout and your abilities.

June AND 6-Month Committed Clubs AND 100 Class Milestone

It’s time to announce our committed club members for June! Remember – committed club status requires attending at least 15 classes in any given month. Here are the members that achieved this last month!

Aaron Persenaire
Angela Price
Katie LaCosse
Justin LaCosse
Nicole Heinonen
Rochelle Spencer
Jay Martineau
Michelle Miller
Julie Jalkanen
Amanda Hoffman
Gavin McBride
Kim Dunnebacke
Laura Konkel
Julia Anderson
Renee Hiller
As usual, we do a random drawing from those that hit committed club status, and two lucky recipients get a gift card. This month those lucky members are Jay Martineau and Amanda Hoffman – Congrats!
New this month is our first 6-Month Committed Club list! We have 7 members that hit Committed Club status for the first 6 consecutive months of 2021. Congrats!
Amanda Hoffman
Angela Price
Julie Jalkanen
Justin LaCosse
Katie LaCosse
Kim Dunnebacke
Michelle Miller
We also completed a random drawing for this group, and Kim Dunnebacke and Michelle Miller received gift cards.
And finally, we have a growing list of members that have joined the 100-class milestone board this month. See them below. We are proud of your dedication!  (Note, not all are included in the photos)
Aaron Persenaire
Amanda Hoffman
Angela Price
Julie Jalkanen
Justin LaCosse
Michelle Miller
Nicole Heinonen
Rochelle Spencer

Congratulations to all of you. We’re proud of your consistency and all of the hard work you put in!


More New Member Spotlights!

We have had a lot of people come on board lately, so here is the latest set of new members. Next time you’re in the gym make sure to say hi to all of our new faces!

Will Schuett

Will grew up in Peshtigo, Wisconsin and spent some time in Southern California and Illinois before ultimately ending up in South Range. He begrudgingly admits that Jesse was key in getting him to try CrossFit, added in with the fact that he was looking for coaching and motivation in his fitness regime. He really struggles with fitness individually, and is therefore really excited to join in the group classes! He thrives in a group environment, and feeding off the energy of everyone else helps him to stay compelled to try his hardest. 


Joanne Coponen

Originally from Houghton, Joanne now lives in Atlantic Mine. She was searching for a routine commitment that involved exercise, and asked our own Nicole Heinonen for advice about CrossFit (as if she’d ever say don’t join!). She took her advice and signed up for Intro. Although a little intimidated, she was relieved to learn that she doesn’t have to be at anyone elses athletic/skill level but her own. She is really looking forward to showing up, putting in the work, and seeing the improvement in the weeks to come.


Samantha Pakkala


Although she has moved several times in her life, she has never really left her native Chassell – no place like home, right? She had been looking to get in shape but hated working out alone. Her friend Danielle, who recently completed Intro, convinced her to give it a shot! Her favorite moment in Intro was learning the clean, and then like magic, all three of them (Mimi, Joanne, and Samantha) did a perfectly executed synchro power clean. She is most excited to work out with other people so everyone can “suffer” together. She is also excited to meet new people and build a work out support system! 

Mimi Laho

Born and raised in the Houghton/Hancock area, Mimi, like Samantha, has not strayed far. She had been wanting to find an exercise class/program for awhile, but didn’t know where or what to look for. Samantha was talking with Mimi and she expressed interest in CrossFit, and they decided to try it out together! Her favorite part of Intro turned out to be Wall Balls, believe it or not, and she enjoyed finding out and seeing that everyone else struggles at times as well. It made the group class experience less intimidating and really encouraged her to keep trying! 

New Member Spotlight – Welcome Caroline, Danielle and Emily!

New Member Spotlight: Caroline Penny

Caroline grew up in Toivola but now lives in Houghton. She decided to join CrossFit because after some research into it and other options, it made the most sense to her. She also set some fitness goals for herself and believes CrossFit is how she will be able to achieve them. Her favorite thing learned during the intro was all the modifications and scaling options that we offer to meet her where she’s currently at to set her up for success in her goals. Caroline is most excited about joining the group classes because she is looking forward to becoming more healthy and strong as well as being with others who want to do the same! Make sure to say hi the next time you see her in the gym!

New Member Spotlight: Danielle Harry

Originally from Atlantic Mine, Danielle recently moved to Houghton last summer. A friend encouraged her to check out CrossFit to get back into shape for summer, which is how she found her way to us! Her favorite part of the intro process was learning the proper form of all the exercises that she will be doing in group class. She is most excited to be working out in general, getting a good hard workout in and not having to spend hours in the gym, and of course meeting new people who encourage and root one another on!


New Member Spotlight: Emily Geiger-Dedo

Originally from Muskegon, MI, she moved to Houghton in 2007 and currently resides in Hancock. Her friend Sophia asked her to join the On-Ramp classes with her, and she said yes because she had always been curious about CrossFit. Her favorite part of CrossFit so far has been lifting weights, since working out on her own consists of mostly cardio. Additionally, trying the kettlebell swings was fun because she’d never used them before. Moving forward into group classes she is most excited to be a part of a great supportive community which will help make long term lifestyle changes easier through accountability.

Committed Club – May 2021 (And a Milestone!)

It’s time to announce our committed club members for May! Remember – committed club status requires attending at least 15 classes in any given month. Here are the members that achieved this last month!

Justin LaCosse
Katie LaCosse
Nicole Heinonen
Renee Hiller
Angela Price
Chloe McParlan
Gerald Huffman
Amanda Hoffman
Michelle Miller
Laura Konkel
Kartik Iyer
Julie Jalkanen
Jay Martineau
Kim Dunnebacke
Gavin McBride

As usual, we do a random drawing from those that hit committed club status, and two lucky recipients get a gift card. This month those lucky members are Laura and Renee – Congrats!

I also want to give a special shout out to Katie LaCosse. Since we began tracking the committed club, Katie is the very first member to hit 100 WODS on the new milestone board. Congratulations Katie – what an accomplishment! It looks like several others are on deck to hit this milestone this coming month. Keep up the great work everyone!

New Member Spotlight – Welcome Hannah

Hannah is a Chassell native and was looking for a fun and supportive environment where she could work towards her fitness goals. CrossFit sounded perfect for her and she took the plunge! During the intro class, her favorite part was using barbells and weights because she had never tried them before and could feel the improvements she made even after a few reps. She also enjoyed the rower and all of the pull up variations. But mostly, she is excited to build relationships and feel more comfortable and confident in the gym. Give her a big ol’ Hakk welcome next time you are at the gym!

Nutrition 101 – Protein (June 2021)

We’re going to shift gears for the next couple months here and talk about nutrition. You know, that big scary word that no one really knows for sure what it entails, and the recommendations from the “experts” for it change every five years or so. I am not going to go too much into the weeds here, but I do hope to give you a general idea of the basics of nutrition so that you are better able to communicate about nutrition. This month we are focusing on Protein.

What is Protein? Well, first off let’s take a step backwards and talk about Macronutrients.

What are Macronutrients? Macronutrients are the nutritional components of a diet that are needed in large amounts to sustain growth and life. We consume macronutrients in the form of foods or drinks, which provide us with the bulk of our energy as well as providing fuel for constructing the human body. Protein is one of these macronutrients, the other two being Fat and Carbohydrates.

So what is Protein? Proteins at their most basic, are composed of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen atoms. They also contain nitrogen atoms (unlike fat and carbohydrates). “Amino” means “nitrogen-containing,” therefore, amino acids are the molecules that, when joined in groups of a few dozen to hundreds, form the thousands of proteins occurring in nature. Essentially, proteins are chains of amino acids.

Proteins in the human body are composed of 20 amino acids, nine of which are “essential” because the body cannot manufacture them and therefore they must be obtained through the diet. Five of the amino acids are able to be synthesized in the body, and the remaining six are conditionally essential amino acids whose synthesis can be limited under special conditions.

These five able to be synthesized by the body are alanine, aspartic acid, asparagine, glutamic acid and serine. The six conditionally essential amino acids are arginine, cysteine, glycine, glutamine, proline and tyrosine. The nine essential amino acids are histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan and valine. Since most of these amino acids are either not able to be synthesized by the body, or conditionally synthesized in the body, it is generally best to consume them in our food. As you may already know, dietary sources of protein include meats, dairy products, fish, eggs, grains, legumes, nuts and edible insects (for the daring).

All of these amino acids have varied and important jobs within the body. Probably the most important, at least for our discussion today, is for protein synthesis and muscle repair/remodeling. The reasoning for this is that during cell turnover (the constant breakdown and regeneration of cells) the immediate supplier of amino acids is the body’s free amino acid pool. If they are not in the body, your body cannot use them to make new cells (think muscles)! In addition to being one of the building blocks of body tissue, they can also serve as a fuel source, especially in long (like really long), slow, aerobic exercise. This is why those who specialize in very long and slow aerobic exercise tend to have a “muscle-wasting” appearance. In their case, their bodies are literally using their muscles as an energy source.

Ok, so now that you know a little more about protein, what next? Well, how about how much should you be eating? Good question. When estimating the protein requirements for individuals you need to consider two factors: the caloric intake, and the biological value of the protein.

When caloric intake goes down, the protein requirement goes up. Protein is only one of the building blocks used to create new tissue, so if there are plenty of other building materials around, the need for protein is not as high. However, if the calories are being restricted, protein may be used as a source of energy instead of other sources (carbohydrates), and the protein cannot be used for the intended purpose of replacing the amino acid pool. In this case, protein should make up a larger portion of the calories to ensure that enough building blocks are present.

The higher the biological value of the protein, the lower the protein requirement. Protein sources are not all equal, and some sources are significantly better than others. The best sources of protein have amino acid profiles similar to that needed by the body, and include proteins of animal origin – those in eggs, meat, fish, poultry, and dairy products. Grains, beans, vegetables, and gelatin are referred to as low-quality proteins as they lack one or more of the essential amino acids needed by the body. Unfortunately for vegetarians and vegans, protein quality is one of the issues that must be considered. While not impossible to attain, it is much more difficult for these individuals to get the quality protein that they need.

Now, with that out of the way, assuming that caloric intake is adequate and that two-thirds or more of the protein is from animal sources, the recommended intake for protein for adults is about 0.7 g/pound of body weight for both men and women. This recommendation is generally for sedentary individuals, which we are not, so those participating in CrossFit will likely need to increase their protein intake to as much as 1.0g/pound of body weight or more. Those individuals consuming a vegan diet may need to increase their protein intake even more. That might seem like a lot of protein, and you would be right, but most people do not eat enough protein, especially women. 

If you are looking to increase your protein intake, my recommendation is to start out small. If you barely eat any protein now, quadrupling the amount you eat is going to potentially leave you with some gastric issues… Instead, be a little more mindful of your food selections and choose items that have more protein in them. Once you grow accustomed to your new protein intake, bump it up again. Continue this process until you are at your goal number. One additional benefit of protein is that it stimulates satiety hormones, so you will feel more full after a meal and stay satiated longer – an added bonus for those looking to lose weight!

Murph Part 2!

Not too far to go now – Murph is on the horizon! And it coincides with a long weekend, so that is fun. But more importantly, Murph and our first get together in a long time! If you are unaware of what I am talking about, please go back and read the previous post about Murph as that will fill in some of the blanks. This post is going to explain and break down some of the ways that you can actually perform the workout to give you some food for thought on how you want to participate on Memorial Day.

I am going to break it down into three categories: full Murph, partial or partner Murph, no Murph. We’ll start from the back.

No Murph

If you fit into this category, you are not doing the workout. Hence the name. This is for those that just want to show up, watch people do the workout, or just hang out and enjoy some time with friends. You are more than welcome to show up early to watch or just show up at the cookout afterwards and enjoy some food. Friends and family also fit into this category.

Partial or Partner Murph

For those that want to go alone, you may do a partial Murph. In this option you will generally want to stick with a half or quarter Murph, and you may or may not decide to cut the full workout or just parts of it. For instance, you may decide to do a half Murph (50 pull ups, 100 push ups, 150 air squats) but still run the full mile before and after. Or you may do 800m runs instead of the miles and the rest of the reps full. The options are endless. Feel free to check with a coach if you are unsure of what you should do.

You may also choose to do a partner Murph! You and a friend (or two) can partner up and attack the workout together. The most common way to do a partner Murph is to split up the reps evenly (or unevenly, it’s up to you) and either work at the same time or do a “you go, I go” to get the work done. Again, options are endless.

Full Murph

In this case, you will be doing the full workout. There are many ways to partition the workout as I will describe below, but note that the only rule you need to adhere to is that you must start with and finish with a mile run. 

When doing this workout it is a good idea to pick your weakest movement and base your rep scheme off of that. If you know that your push ups are the sticking point, and that you can only do five in a row before tiring, it probably doesn’t make sense to do more than five at a time, right? Therefore, the first step is to find the weak movement and set realistic expectations of what you will be able to accomplish in a set. Then, browse the following common rep schemes and find one that works for you!

2 pull/4 push/6 squat for 50 rounds

This is a great place to start for those who are newer and have the ability to perform small sets of pull ups and push ups. Small sets means frequent transitions (read: rest) and a lower likelihood of muscle fatigue.

3 pull/6 push/9 squat for 33 rounds + 1 round of 1/2/3

Same as 2/4/6, but with higher reps to reduce the number of transitions.

5 pull/10 push/15 squat for 20 rounds

Probably the most common method, this one is recommended for those who have been doing CrossFit for a while and can consistently perform pull ups and push ups. The push ups do get difficult in the later rounds, so you may choose the following partition if you know you struggle with those.

5 push/5 pull/5 push/15 squat for 20 rounds

If push ups give you trouble, this method gives you smaller sets so that you can maintain your push ups for longer.

10 pull/20 push/30 squat for 10 rounds

If you are really proficient at push-ups, go after this rep scheme. This is also great if you don’t want to count all of those rounds… however, it does mean larger sets which can be problematic.

5 pull/10 push/20 squat for 15 rounds, 5 pull/10 push for 5 rounds

Ok, now we’re getting into the weeds here, but this option front loads the squats so that you can save your legs for the final mile on the last 5 rounds. As a result, your arms will get blasted without rest the last five rounds, but if you know your legs are the issue, then go this route.

20 pull/40 push/60 squat for 5 rounds

This one was done at the 2016 CrossFit Games.

100 pull/200 push/300 squat (Unpartitioned)

There’s no requirement to do this rep scheme, but without a doubt, I can say that it is the hardest. Muscle fatigue and failure is definitely a reality, and I would caution all but the most conditioned to attempt this format.

Final Thoughts

With all of these options, remember that these are just options for you. You may choose to do something entirely different, and that is ok. These options also do not mention any specifics about scaling or partitioning the movements, only the reps. You are of course encouraged to scale the movements to meet your abilities and the coaches will gladly help you find the movements and reps that work for you on that day, just reach out!

New Member Spotlight – Welcome Jinny!

Originally from L’Anse and currently residing in Chassell, Jinny may be a familiar face to some of you. She was a member of the gym about 6 years ago and absolutely loved it. After a lengthy hiatus, she is extremely excited to be back! She enjoys how much stronger she feels in everyday life as a result of CrossFit, and really likes feeling like an athlete again. As a chiropractor, she also appreciates how much the movements we perform in CrossFit help her perform her job with more ease. Additionally, the social aspect and the camaraderie that comes along with being a member has her very excited, as like many people, she doesn’t always enjoy working out, but being in the group class is just fun!


It is almost that time of year again – Memorial Day. And those of you who have been involved with Crossfit know that this means Murph. For those that don’t, here is what the hullabaloo is all about.

In Crossfit there are certain “Hero” workouts dedicated to individuals either in the armed services, LEO, fire, or first responder communities who have lost their lives in the line of duty. There are hundreds of these workouts, and they are notoriously difficult. Why? Well, to remember and honor these individuals. Since this is Crossfit, what better way to honor them by putting ourselves through a miserable workout that really only scratches the surface of what these people endured and ultimately sacrificed for us?

Probably the most famous Hero workout is Murph, and it is generally performed on Memorial Day each year:

For time:

1 mile Run

100 Pull-ups

200 Push-ups

300 Squats

1 mile Run

  • Partition the pull-ups, push-ups, and squats as needed. Start and finish with a mile run. If you’ve got a twenty pound vest or body armor, wear it.
  • In memory of Navy Lieutenant Michael Murphy, 29, of Patchogue, N.Y., who was killed in Afghanistan June 28th, 2005. 

We will be continuing this tradition after missing it last year due to quarantine. More information will be provided at the gym and in emails leading up to the event, but the general idea is this. We will run several heats of the workout, trying to keep the heats to around 10 people or so (depends on the total number of people participating). Heats will be staggered so that we can maintain spacing, especially on the pull up rig. Assuming we have good weather, the garage doors will be up and we will utilize as much of the floor space and parking lot as we can, again, to ensure enough spacing for everyone. 

Since the workout is difficult, there will be several scaling options available for everyone including the option to do it with a partner or in a team. 

Afterwards, we will have an outdoor get together and cookout to celebrate the completion of the workout. This will be a great time to enjoy each other’s company, let the morning people meet the evening people, and hopefully enjoy some nice weather. Family and friends are welcome to join, all that we ask is that you bring a dish to pass. We’ll plan on firing up a grill or two and the gym will provide some protein for everyone (likely bbq chicken), but if you would like a specific grilled item or have dietary restrictions, you are more than welcome to bring food yourself.

A sign up will be at the gym to get an idea of who will be participating in the workout, whether you will be doing it as an individual or group, and who will all be joining for the cookout afterwards along with a dish sign up. This will be our first gym event since December 14, 2019 so hopefully everyone will be able to join in the fun!