To Scale or Rx’d a WOD…that is the Question What is YOUR Answer???

Pigs on ice skates anyone?

When should you scale a WOD, if at all?

As an athlete/member, what goes through your mind when you see a workout that you know you can perform RX, but at the same time will take you twice as long to perform?

Should you scale the workout?

Or is the time component irrelevant to you? What is more important – finishing the workout regardless of how long it takes you, or, scaling the workout so that you preserve the stimulus and are able to maintain a high power output (i.e. high intensity) throughout the entire WOD?

Post thoughts to comments.

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10 Responses to “To Scale or Rx’d a WOD…that is the Question What is YOUR Answer???”

  1. Your time is irrelevant until you begin and end a WOD Rx’d! Your 1st goal is to work yourself to Rx’ing every WOD with great form and ROM! Nothing else matters (time, finishing 1st/Last, etc…) Any goal you ever want or dream of happens with Rx’d.

    TGIF sucka’s

  2. To me, Rx’d weight comes across as a one-size fits all number, but we aren’t one-size fits all people (hence the need for scaling). There is a variety of body sizes and types at the gym and I’ve often wondered about how these Rx’d weights are even determined.

    Let’s say person #1 is going Rx’d and has to lift their own body weight on a movement, which would be completely different than person #2 lifting the same weight which is only 3/4 of their body weight. So technically, you could say the person #2 doing the Rx’d weight is now the one scaling……..

    I’m just saying!

    BUT, I do agree with having target numbers to hit in a WOD. We all need to be pushed and often times, we hold ourselves back because we don’t want to be the last one done. This is why we have the great trainers at CFSF to know our limits and push us to lift Rx’d whenever we can.

    • Great points, Tracy! Wonder what the answers are to your points????

    • Great points Tracy!! I always used to feel bad being the one in the class that had been there for the longest (11 months now) and using only the bar – until someone pointed out to me that I was “the smallest one in the class”. That got me to thinking… I know that the trainers wouldn’t agree though, because they know my potential. Ugh to accountability!

      When it comes to things that aren’t weights I do my best to RX as much as possible. Pull-ups w/ no bands, pushups off knees, big box when low #’s of box jumps or jump all when high #’s, over the line on wall balls, run all runs – no walking ect. I do always think about the aches and pains, if my body hurts, there is a reason and in those cases, it’s time to scale. (I have a very high pain tolerance so when something doesn’t feel good I know what that means)

      The great thing about crossfit though is that EVERYTHING can be thus – EVERYONE can do it!!

  3. Great post! Great answer! Reassuring…. and something I NEED to do in my workouts (and remember- I get too focused on finishing). After all- you haven’t actually met your goal unless you have reached ‘the goal’, right?

  4. There are many reasons for scaling. First, to help people gradually improve and progress to a desired level of output. If you have a beginner who is lacking in strength/endurance/technique, you don’t want to crush them and have them take 35 minutes to do a WOD that should take 10. The prescribed scale chosen for a workout is such so that a desired stimulus is reached. So basically, you want everyone getting relatively the same effect from the workout.

    With that said, the prescribed scale should also be a measuring stick for where you’re at; it should be a level you strive to reach.

    If you’re using a weight that you can’t reach a full range of motion (do correctly), or you feel unsafe using, it’s probably too heavy, but that doesn’t mean drop 15-20 pounds (try 5).

    On the other hand, if you are capable of full repetitions and you aren’t missing the lift every other rep, SUCK IT UP, USE CORRECT FORM AND STICK TO THE WEIGHT. What difference does an extra 5 minutes on the board mean? Come back a month later after training with prescribed loads and that 5 minutes will probably be cut.

  5. Being able to RX on ALL the WODS is a definite goal of mine and I feel like i am getting closer everyday. the bottom line is that I have to be more patient with myself and not get all crazy and do heavy weight with crap form. like Casey is saying…scale your weights accordingly, focus on the form and the strength will come. I’ll be honest…I get a little miffed when a WOD is posted with prescribed weights that i cannot do yet but that “miffiness” is what pushes me to work harder and I know i will get there soon. i know that sometimes I sacrifice form for speed but really in the end i am only hurting myself. I HAVE to start thinking more about long term progress and I believe that that can be accomplished with correct form and correct weight.

  6. My personal opinion: size doesn’t matter (always wanted to say that..hehe) 🙂 As my TaeKwonDo instructor always taught us: “size means nothing…the bigger they are, the harder they fall…that’s all.” If size mattered, one would also have to factor in things like height too….taller people have farther to lift and not as much leverage. Me personally, I look at people like Annie, Mary, Cody, Chris and compared to what they can lift, it just proves to me that size doesn’t matter…it’s overall strength, form, and mental toughness. So in reality, the “fair” way is to go by percentage of max because the one consistent thing throughout weight loss (or throughout CF), which I can attest to myself, is strength. Again, just my opinion.
    I agree with Casey 100% in his post on when one should scale. I’ve gone into WODs many times knowing I would struggle with RX but I still give it my best. Chris has had to spot me before in a WOD but I still did RX even though I did struggle some. The only time I do not do RX is if it is above my max or if a trainer tells me to go lighter and work on form instead. Time is irrelevant to me for the most part and yes, it does sometimes bother me if I’m last and I do go through mental struggles due to that but I keep reminding myself that’s ok because I’m still seeing progress…the time is only there to see how you’ve progressed. Most don’t know that I have RSD in my dominant hand which causes me intense burning pain (best described as someone dousing your hand/arm in gasoline then setting it on fire….you’ll see many sufferers describe it that way…more painful than child birth or amputated digit per McGill pain index. This article describes it best..very good read:…raise awareness as it could happen to anybody and often is misdiagnosed!!) not to mention skin rips cause even worse pain in that hand…sunlight on it even causes me pain. I could easily say I should scale because of my condition but I still try to power through the WODs doing RX weight even with the pain and possible strength loss…I do whatever it takes even if it takes more focus and alot of mental toughness.
    I know some can lift quite a bit more than me and do scale their WOD for time but for me personally, I’d rather RX than scale even if it means that I struggle a little and my time suffers. The time will eventually come….I’ve already proven to myself quite a few times that I can get good times….I need to prove to myself that I can RX and I’ve accomplished that in quite a few WODs already.

  7. The WOD’s used to be all about time for me, but now they are more about Rx’ing the WOD’s thanks to Annie’s constant support and motivation!! For me personally I feel way more accomplished when I do the workout with Rx’d weight.

    I also liked Korena’s answer- Tall people have to squat lower, lift higher 🙂 That’s my excuse anyways!! LOL!!

  8. I think the most important thing to consider is the nature of the workout. If you are doing Fran or something similar it is meant to be a fairly fast powerful workout. If it takes you 30min to finish, then you really aren’t getting the intended benefit. However at the opposite end of the spectrum a WOD like Murph is meant to be a grinder and hence shouldn’t be scaled so you can finish in 30min. However, if you are going to be just starting your second mile at the hour mark, scaling a bit may be in order.

    The CFJ article, Scaling: Less Can Be More, from April ’09 is a great answer to this very question. In an example it shows the total power output increasing for a hypothetical athelete that drops the weight for Frans thrusters by 20lbs and improves time by 2:00. The power output was almost 20 watts higher.

    Another example listed is 30 Clean and Jerks @155lbs. As they say, if you have to turn this into 30 singles w/ a minute rest you kind of miss the point of the workout. It’s supposed to be a metcon workout, not a heavy day. If it was meant to be a strength day, it would have been 5 singles or something similar!

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