The beauty of CrossFit is its universal scalability. The same workout can be performed by Grandma as by an Olympic athlete, where the only difference is intensity and load. These workouts vary by degree not kind. A good coach knows exactly how to scale a workout for athletes with varying levels of fitness and/or athletes with pre-existing injuries while keeping the intent of the workout roughly the same.
I just want to Rx a workout
First let me explain that I really hate Rx weights. For most athletes, Rx weights are more of a demoralizer than they are a motivator. The weights sometimes feel impossible especially if you are just beginning CrossFit. I remember when I first started and I could barely do an overhead squat with the PVC. Every time I looked at the board and it said Overhead Squat (95/65), I felt like throwing up my hands and saying “fuck it, I guess I’ll just DO the bar today or just go crawl in a hole.” Just to make it clear: Rx weights and times do not matter. The only thing that matters is your effort and your progress. The reason why we use Rx weights is because it simplifies and standardizes the WOD throughout the day. It provides a relative baseline for the weights and intent of the workout. It helps newer athletes scale their weights by a percentage of the Rx weight and gives more advanced athletes a standard for the workout. More on this in a post to follow.
Scaling gone bad
A workout can never be too easy. I could create a workout with jumping pull-ups and band assisted everything with PVC pipe lifts that would crush even the most advanced athletes. If the workout seems easy, you’re not working hard enough. On the opposite end of the spectrum, you never want to scale incorrectly and have it be too heavy and have to strip weight in the middle of the workout. You want to start working up to that Rx weight, I get it. You also don’t want to be using a green band for pull-ups a year into doing CrossFit.
Breaking the addiction
Some athletes refuse to start scaling up a WOD. I understand moving down a notch in a band or up 10 pounds in an overhead squat is scary. Your coaches are concerned with your overall fitness progress. We want to see you set goals and achieve them. In order to do that, we want you to challenge yourself a little bit at a time. We love to see you working on technique, form and strength before and after the WODs. Here are some tips on how to start scaling up:
- Strength – Start increasing your weight 5-10 pounds each week in your lifts. Some weeks you may not be able to lift as much as others. That’s fine, but make sure you make progress in the long run. Work on your technique after class on the more complicated lifts. Perfect technique has to occur before you begin to build strength in the lifts.
- Skills – These are things like double unders, handstand push-ups and kipping pull-ups. These take a lot of practice. Your body doesn’t really know how to perform these movements in athletically or efficiently. Shoot for getting 10 in a row. Then scale up and then shoot for another 10 in a row.
- WODs – The trick to scaling a WOD is to pick one thing you feel confident in. Let’s say you just got 10 pull-ups with the blue band but are still using the green band for WODs. The workout is backsquats and pull-ups. If you feel good today, you can scale up by using the blue band for the WOD because your arms won’t be too taxed and the backsquat doesn’t require your grip. You wouldn’t scale up the backsquats because you want to only focus on scaling one movement up each workout, otherwise the workout becomes exponentially harder.
- Be Patient – This may be the hardest thing of all. If you jump up in weight too quickly, you will become more discouraged than motivated. Remember to be systematic about your increases. Look for small wins week after week. Over the course of three months, all of those small wins will start to add up.
- Never Forget – We easily forget where we started. I constantly remind myself how my first WOD felt or how I was demoted down to the PVC pipe for all my overhead squats during my first 3 months of CrossFit. Remind yourself how far you have come. Fitness needs to be a lifelong endeavor, not just about slimming up for summer.
Our role as coaches is to make sure you are improving in a systematic and safe way. If we tell you to go up in weight or down in a band it isn’t because we are just being jerks, it is because we believe you are fully capable of doing it.
Courtesy of “CrossFit SouthBay”
A. Take 20 Minutes to work up to the heaviest load possible for the following – 3 x TNG Cleans (Power or Squat) & Jerks (Split or Power Jerk)
B. Gordo Grace
30 x Clean&Jerks @ 155lb/105lb
(6 Min Cap)
C. Divers – 3 x 20
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