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Rest Day

Appropriate scaling
by Coach Fox

We all know that CrossFit is infinitely scalable. We have CF Kids who do scaled down versions of what our regular classes look like. You tell your Mom and your Grandma that yes; they too, can walk into their local CF affiliate and get some. In Foundations at CFSBK or at a Level 1 cert, your coach lectured you that CrossFit is constantly varied, functional movement, executed at (relatively) high intensity. Remember that adjective: relatively. After CrossFitting for a while you may feel like you should do every WOD Rx’d…not so.
What high intensity means for all of us is different. Sometimes the difference is scaled via time/perceived effort. For example: 2 athletes complete Fran as Rx’d. Athlete A finishes in 3:00 flat, while athlete B finishes in 6:59. One took more than 2x as long as the other. Did they both get a dose of CrossFit? For sure. Let’s assume that athlete B scaled back intensity and paced the workout more and didn’t redline because he didn’t sleep well the night before and was feeling sluggish. That sounds like smart scaling to me. Here’s another scenario. Athlete A is the same, but athlete B finishes the workout in just under 12:00. He breaks the movements up into 3 or 4 at a time from start, and his movement is a mess from the 10th thruster on, missing ROM on a few of the pull-ups along the way. He was well rested and just really wanted to do his first Rx’d Fran. Here athlete B gets a very different workout. It became more a matter of slogging through to the finish instead of sprinting to the end, and the metabolic effect of the WOD was lost. Some scaling on weight or reps may have gotten him the intended effect of the infamous 21-15-9 of thrusters and pull-ups. If his thrusters were the limiting factor using a 75lb barbell may have been appropriate. If pull-ups were the time suck then maybe going 12-9-6 on that portion would have made the difference.
Just this week you were challenged to find your max weight for a “4 minute Grace”.  This was a great active lesson on scaling that I hope you got. Sure, sometimes it can be good just to go at a WOD Rx’d for the sake of completing it as such. There can be some real mental/emotional benefit to that. The majority of the time though, when it comes to met-cons, especially the short/intense kind, try and find where your intensity level needs to be for the intended effect of the workout. Then focus on getting stronger and the Rx’d weight will come. A good estimate for high rep barbell work is to use around 65% of your max. So if your max clean and jerk were 150lbs, then 95-100 lbs would probably get you a good dose of Grace. If you’re not sure where or when to scale, just ask one of the coaches as CFSBK. That’s what we’re here for. Cheers to good training.

What does Rx'd mean to you? Is it a goal of yours? Why or why not?

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Reader Comments (12)

Wow, that was a little Blair Witch Project right there.

RxD: I would love to be able to do a workout RxD, but haven't come close to it. (Well, FGB and Annie, I guess! Not sure if those count :)). I do have to be practical though; with the injuries I'm carrying I'm not sure it will ever happen. For the time being, I'm content to tweak-n-scale and carry on; I've not ever ended a workout by saying, "hey that was too easy". I do keep track of how I did a particular workout and then try and amp it up a bit.

A good example is Fran, which is an absolute heartbreaker for me because I cannot kip. The first time I did it, it took me some 12:30. I did it with a 65 lb barbell, and needed green bands, and extensive spotting to finish. Earlier this year, when we did it again, I finished in 11:40 something, which felt like a real disappointment at first, and then I realized that I had done it with 75 lb barbell, and had done some 15 strict-chin-ups and the rest with white-bands and blue-bands. That felt like some kind of improvement, and now I have another target to concentrate on.

I think thats all I'd like to think about at the moment. The Rxs look quite intimidating, and again, I don't know if they will happen, but its nice to just get a little better than yourself. If that keeps happening, I think I'll be happy. I like our emphasis on logging and quantifying and it has been a very calming influence on me, giving me some kind of tangible target (relative to my own abilities) to concentrate on. Of course, there will always be folks that I will chase and its just as well that they are a little ahead of me at all times. Keeps me going.

Honestly, I just want to stay injury-free. Everything else will happen in its own sweet time.
August 13, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterSamir Chopra
Great write up Fox! I have been trying to do my metcons as metcons recently and it is amazing. The hit from something you can storm through and something where you might consider grabbing a sip of water is so different. Both are necessary but we have chippers in the program already. I struggled to do Rx'd for its own sake for a while but all my fast metcons were more like chippers than I wanted to admit and it did nothing good.
August 13, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMalcolm
Nice work Fox.

I'll echo Malcolm. When I first started, I was coming off an injury and was very slow and controlled about how much weight I was using. A few months in my back started feeling good and I started using Rx weight for some workouts. Something clicked, it lit a competitive fire for me, and I wanted to Rx everything, even when it was to my detriment or the workout turned into a long slow slog. I think since coming to CFSBK I've been able to step back from that a bit and try and find that "sweet spot" in each workout.

I have thought before, and was thinking yesterday about why the workouts suggest weight by percentage of body weight. As in Fran with thrusters at 50% BW (assumes a 190 lb guy and a 130 lb gal.) I sometimes think that would make things more interesting, then I think that if all the workouts had always been that way would monsters like Spealler have explored their full potential.

I think it comes back to what the coaches say "Rx is a suggestion." Its a baseline number to give you an idea of what kind of workout it is. Sometimes we need to get out of our own way.
August 13, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterNoah
This is the second time in two days that I was thinking about something and someone else had the same thought. But anyway...

I was talking about this very thing yesterday. I was trying to explain that scaling down weight, reps or distance often makes it harder. Less time with hands on hips or off the bar increases the metabolic effect.

Just use mathematics to explain.

August 13, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAJ
This is a welcome comment for me too. I started cross-fitting in march a couple of months pregnant and somewhat out of shape and have not been making a huge amount of progress as measured against external indicators. Which can make me feel sort of lame on occasion. But I have never hesitated to scale as needed, primarily because with the pregnancy safety/injury avoidance seem like a higher priority than getting rapidly stronger or more badass. Ultimately I imagine this will benefit me, and I am very interested to see if I find myself changing my approach a lot post baby, or if I will be able to stick with the "slow and steady" methodology prescribed by David O. and pretty much dictated so far by my body.
August 13, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterKate B.
Excellent article, Mr. Fox! I usually refuse to scale WODs...regardless how long it will take to get through it. I clearly have to re-think my approach.

Is there a way to determine a target time for WODs?
August 13, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAndy H.
Kate B - you ARE so badass.

Mr. Ha - One way to determine target time/work for WODs is to see what top-tier athletes, either in house or elsewhere, are doing them in.

A few benchmarks:Fran - <3:00 - 6:00Helen - <7:00 - 11:00Grace - <2:00 - 4:00Cindy - 17 or more rounds

I hear tell of a 57 second Isabel as well, but that is nuckin futts.

I strive to do WODs Rx'd, but some I would not even attempt right now, the afformentioned Isabel, for instance.
August 13, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterFox
another great piece there coach fox. as far as Rx'd, it is a goal, as long as the weight is a challenge and will deliver the right intensity pour moi. you coaches are always on point as well as far as scaling or not.

WUfoam rollmhpc prep

MHPC/BURPEE WODRx'd 8.29leg got tight really fast. slowed me down. burpees w cf games standard felt a little easier with the slight recovery at the bottom.

CDice and foam roll leg.

August 13, 2010 | Unregistered Commenter.DMG
Pfft. I just try to keep up with Samir.
August 13, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJoe
Fun times at noon with Coach Fox--great essay, thank you! I liked the "chase the Chief" warm up run.

Back squatted today as I'll miss tomorrow. 180 pounds for 3x5!

Um, Gabrus predicted McGrath's time in this WOD and was accurate to within one second. I for one am majorly spooked out.

Dan H and I figured out why we each thought the other looked familiar. BECAUSE WE USED TO WORK TOGETHER. Oops.
August 13, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterCharlotte
Señor Fox, muchas gracias!
August 14, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAndy Ha.
Snatch from blocks:40kgx3x3,60,7080x2 (1,1)80x2 (1,1)81x2 (1,x)81x2 (1,1)


Back Squat:Light, tempo work
August 14, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterYoon

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