What is “quality”?

One of the hallmarks of a good discussion, paper, podcast, whatever… is that you first define terms. That said, it seems that the term “quality” has become synonymous with “intensity”, but is it really?

No, it is not, regardless of how frequently it’s misused. And, it is frequently misused. For example, in one of the more recent FastTalk podcasts, “quality” was used by various speakers to describe intense effort vs base or endurance effort, anaerobic effort vs threshold effort, and perhaps the one appropriate use of the term, to describe how well someone executed an interval.

There are many aspects to exercise prescription, with perhaps the two most important being intensity and duration. IMO, quality is nailing both. A well executed endurance effort is higher quality than a poorly executed threshold or VO2 effort, for example.

When you think about it, if you use the term “quality” interchangeably with “intensity “, you’re essentially defaulting back to the now debunked thought that base miles are junk miles.


Hi @Mudge, you make a good point. The one thing I’ll say is we’re not using quality as a synonym for intensity, we’re using it as a short form for “quality intensity,” which is admittedly a little lazy.

The issue is that a lot of people think just going really hard with no structure is good top end work. What we mean when we say “quality” is doing intensity work that is structured and targets specific systems, and isn’t just hard for hard’s sake.


Thanks for the response, and to be fair, while I referenced FastTalk presenters using the term quality loosely, you guys are by no means the only folks doing so. It happens so frequently, so universally, that for a moment I thought I had missed the memo. At the very best, I can think of only one presentation where it was made clear that quality endurance is every bit as quality as quality intensity, and the topic of that presentation was training intensity distribution. It stuck out because it was such a break from the norm.

Quality is an interesting term isn’t it?

How do you determine something was quality? How is it measured?

How good was the workout?
Was the workout good enough?
How can you make it better?
Was it appropriate to your current capabilities?

Then looking at a training block.

What was the purpose of the block?
Were you able to complete each workout?
Did any workouts impact on subsequent workouts?
Were there any niggles or injuries?
Did the block achieve the stated purpose and if so to what degree?
How can the block be improved?


Yes, these general questions can be quite cheeky, can’t they? And here we are again… From a general approach to the individual. To figure it out. There is no one size fits all. What is quality? Without judgment, just see the sum of all the qualities of a training process (whether it’s an intense workout, a whole block, climbing Mount Everest, or just doing a 15 minute recovery workout indoor). Now when you ask if it’s good or bad, you give a value for all the characteristics of a training process. Finally, if one realizes that one thing can be perceived completely differently from one subject to another, one must take into account the individual value settings that precede the action and its results for a training process.

I agree by saying that there is this major demand to satisfy the desire for a high intensity training- which then one say it had a good quality. I know why there is this desire. Its our kind as an athlete to define ourselfes by reaching this state of emergency in ourselfs again and again. But you cant HIIT everyday. Also enjoy the recovery and base miles.

People’s envy itself indicates how unhappy they themselves feel; their constant attention to other people’s doings, how bored they are. (A.S.)

We must also remember that a workout, or series of workouts cannot be quality if the subsequent recovery is not also quality. I like to call recovery days adaption days (or weeks as applicable), which helps keep in my mind that they are important.

Absolutely. The key is that the whole package has to be quality to get one’s best results.

I think we can agree, one thing for certain, is quality is not synonymous with high intensity (the original point).