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Scaling

CrossFit workouts are generally difficult and the program you all follow at CrossFit Bolton is no exception.  Don’t feel bad if you can’t do all of the posted workouts as prescribed yet.  The workouts are beyond the capacity of most of our clients.  The good news is CrossFit workouts are universally scalable meaning anybody and everybody can do a modified version of them.  I’m sure many people visit my website, read the workout and say “I can’t do that” to themselves.  What they don’t seem to realize is that very few of us can actually do the workouts as prescribed.

Remember that your needs and the needs of an Olympic athlete differ by degree not kind.  Increased power, strength, cardiovascular and respiratory endurance, flexibility, stamina, coordination, agility, balance, and coordination are all important to the world’s best athletes and to our grandparents.  The truth is that the very same methods that elicit optimal response in the Olympic or professional athlete will optimize the same response in the elderly.  Of course, we can’t load your grandmother with the same squatting weight that we would an Olympic skier, but they both need to squat.  In fact, squatting is essential for maintaining functional independence and improving fitness.

There are several reasons the majority of CrossFitters can’t do the workouts as Rx’d.  Poor mechanics due to technique or flexibility limitations and lack of strength are the most common issues.  

A good CrossFit Coach will be able to scale a movement or a workout depending on their clients’ abilities.  Scaling is one of the many exceptional things about CrossFit and one of the reasons why CrossFitters actually get results.  When your CrossFit Coach scales your workout, we consider a number of factors including your work capacity, mobility, experience, mechanics and mental state.  

If you cannot do a front squat, hang power clean and power clean properly, your CrossFit Coach should not attempt to teach you a clean.  If the posted workout includes a hang snatch but we haven’t seen you do an overhead squat, hang power snatch and power snatch then you should be working on those things first.

A good CrossFit Coach will be able to scale the workout so everyone in the gym has an excellent workout and completes it in the preferred amount of time.  I know you can probably do “Isabel” as Rx’d if I gave you 45 minutes and let you press out every rep but I want everyone to finish the workout in less than 10 minutes and do something that actually resembles a power snatch with the barbell.  Can’t finish it in less than 10 minutes?  You need to scale it.  Can’t snatch 135 with perfect form for reps?  You need to scale it.  Ask your CrossFit Coach for help if you aren’t sure how much weight to use for a WOD.  When you ask for help, prepare to demonstrate a few reps.  Don’t expect your CrossFit Coach to pull a number out of their rear end.  We can’t memorize every one of our clients’ maxes.

Congratulations if you’re doing the workout Rx’d.  You are strong!  You have adequate mobility and flexibility!  You have decent mechanics!  We trust you enough to allow you to do the WOD as Rx’d and not get hurt or take an eternity.  Of course, there are always those who ignore the Coach or believe they don’t require coaching.  Training alone often results in injury and other setbacks but we’ll save that for another article.

If you think that you MUST go Rx’d on your CrossFit workout, then you should really adjust your attitude.  Take a look at all the asterisks on the whiteboard and remember scaling is common, Rx’d is the exception.

Alex Possamai