CrossFit gyms, and more specifically CrossFit workouts, can be intimidating. It’s a common misconception that you need to be in great shape or have already started a workout routine in order to start CrossFit. In reality, nothing could be further from the truth. Scaled CrossFit workouts are the most simple, elegant solution to making CrossFit accessible to everyone, from beginner to advanced.
Each person that walks into a gym is an individual. Some are older, some are younger, some have worked out in the past, others have never lifted a weight in their lives. Some want to lose weight, others are simply bored with their current workout routine.
Did you know they can all do the same workout, side by side, with slight variations?
What is “scaling”?
In CrossFit, we use a technique called scaling that allows us to modify every movement and every workout to accommodate all of the athletes in the room. We scale our workouts for all athletes based on your fitness level, health, experience, and current limitations.
When we scale a workout, or a movement within a workout, we provided a less intensive option or substitute. This makes it possible for all of us – with our different body types, personal goals and levels of ability – to work alongside one another safely.
We motivate one another, cheer one another on, and sometimes participate in some healthy competition. But ultimately, every workout is yours and yours alone. Your workout, your pace.
While options for scaled CrossFit workouts will always be provided to you in class, your coach is a resource you should be using to help you scale appropriately.
Your coaches have an understanding of CrossFit programming theory, awareness of your capabilities and limitations, and are able to provide quick application of many possible scaling methods, some of which you probably don’t even know exist.
Why do we scale CrossFit workouts?
CrossFit workouts are scaled to preserve the intended stimuli despite athlete limitations such as experience, injury, illness or range of motion. Not scaling appropriately over and over leads to fatigue, injury, and burnout.
A properly scaled workout safely maximizes relative intensity (load, speed, and range of motion) to continue developing increased work capacity despite limitations.
There’s always an intent for the day, and regardless of who you are or where you’re coming from, we want you to get the intent of the workout in. This is why we might timecap a workout, change the number of reps of a movement for you, or sub a different movement entirely.
It doesn’t mean you’re getting less of a workout. It means you’re getting the workout customized to YOU, to make sure you’re getting what you need out of it.
What does “Rx” in a workout mean?
Workouts often come with an “Rx” weight attached to them. This is typically written in the format of providing an Rx weight for both men and women.
A long-term goal of scaling is creating the ability to perform workouts “as prescribed.”
To be honest, it’s rather arbitrary. The numbers are selected by no one in particular to qualify someone as doing the “hardest possible version.”
In reality, these weights don’t mean a whole lot. It’s great to have goals to work towards. However, it’s better for you to push your own limits. Find your own “Rx” for the day and go for that.
How do you scale a CrossFit workout?
There’s multiple ways and reasons to scale a workout. The best approach to scaling your workouts is to look at the intent of the workout for the day. Your coach should always be able to assist in providing alternate movements and scaling options.
For example, if it’s a 20 minute workout, and the intent is to get 10 rounds, then you will need to scale your movements to allow you to complete each round in 2 minutes or less. If the weights are too heavy or the reps too high for you to accomplish that goal, you’ll scale to a weight and rep scheme that will allow you to reach it.
THAT is what properly scaled CrossFit looks like.
Other times we scale because of physical limitations, injuries, or rehab. Perhaps you’ve had knee replacement surgery, and you aren’t able to jump onto a box. We would scale to step-ups to get the same stimulus and target the same muscle groups, while lessening the load and impact placed on the knee.
Often times people tend to feel like they are “cheating” the workout, or getting less of a workout by scaling. In reality, nothing could be further from the truth.
When a workout is intended to take 10 minutes, and at 17 minutes you’re still slogging away, THEN you’ve cheated the workout. By not scaling appropriately, you’ve missed the intent of the workout, and thus have not given your body what it needed.
Aim to hit the designated time domain, the correct number of rounds, or meet the intent for the day, and you’ll be glad you did.