5 Words to define time and intensity

There are 5 words that we use to guide the level of each training program design. These are highly relevant when you factor in-season vs off-season and your level. Youth will not be at the same intensity as a sophomore in college and so on.

We are breaking the 5 words into two categories: Difficulty and Time.


LOAD – This is a question of “how much”. Just what it sounds like, a load is the amount of resistance the body has to overcome. In the weight room, it is simply the amount of weight on a bar. In running it could be up a hill or bleachers or pulling a sled or running in sand.

VOLUME – This is, “How many?” It is quantity, the number of repetitions in a set, and the total number of sets in the workout, whether it is weight room reps. or sprints or other distances.

INTENSITY – “How fast” something will get done.  This is related to duration. A simple example is running 400 meters in 90 seconds is not nearly as intense as running it in 48 seconds. The formula is work divided by time. Adding more volume and/or more loads into a shorter time frame significantly increases intensity or doing a regular workout faster also increases intensity.


FREQUENCY – This is “how often” something is done as in the number of days each week training takes place. Understanding this allows a coach to easily and carefully plan training cycles in order to not over or under-train athletes by monitoring the frequency of a training session(s).

DURATION  – “How long” does something last, how much time will it take. In this context, it is important to look at the length of a practice or training session or a specific cycle.

Are you going to power clean and squat every workout?  Maybe, maybe not.  So the frequency is very important.

It's different from intensity about how much work gets done in a period of time. But how long are you going to work out your workout? 45 minutes, 80, 85 minutes, two hours. So the duration is huge when you are designing programs. 

Every workout is connected to the next workout. If you're in a constant state of fatigue, your workouts may not be productive no matter how long or what the duration is.

All these things become questions that you have to ask when designing a program because if you put a workout on a whiteboard, it might look great. Well, you might not be able to sense or figure out what kind of time load frequency, and duration intensity that whiteboard is going to create on your athlete's body.

Fresh is best. Therefore, when you design your programs, those words are important to allow your athletes time to recover. That's a quick start on the five-word program design that we will expand on in other posts.


Recent Posts