News & WOD

The Importance of Scaling Workouts

The Importance of Scaling Workouts

Thursday 5th July 2018

A question I get asked all the time, "Is it better to do a workout as prescribed (RX) and go slower or scale it and go faster?".

Every workout we do is designed to provide a certain stimulus and in order to ensure you are getting the most from that workout you may need to Scale it. Scaling can include reducing the reps, reducing the weight or even switching up particular movements.

When deciding whether to go Rx or to scale you need to ask yourself three questions;

1- What is the purpose of this workout?

2- What sort of time should it be taking?

3- Can I achieve the desired affect from the workout without changing anything or is there something there that is going to prevent me from doing so?

Once you've answered these questions you then need to make your decision. You have to be honest with yourself, leave your ego behind and remember that Its about you getting the best result from that workout. Sometimes you will get it wrong and mis judge it, but as long as you're not doing it all the time its ok.

Lets take a look at 'Fran', this is a typical CrossFit benchmark workout that most of you would have heard of. For this workout you are to complete 21/15/9 reps of Thrusters and Pull ups using 42.5kg for men and 30kg for woman. I believe the record for this workout is around 1 minute 50 seconds, so for an average person if scaled correctly you should be looking to complete this sub 5 mins.

John is going to do Fran, he is a strong guy but struggles with gymnastics so the pull ups will be difficult for him.

Scenario 1- John does the workout RX
John takes 12 minutes to do Fran because he had to keep breaking up his pull ups. He didn't feel to tired at the end because there was no real intensity due to all the breaks he had to take.

Scenario 2- John Scales the workout
John completes the workout in 3.30mins and is exhausted at the end. He kept the weight on his bar but scaled his pull ups to Ring rows so was able to get through the whole workout without stopping.

Looking at those 2 scenarios, although in scenario 1 john has completed the workout Rx'd, he hasn't achieved the desired stimulus he should have from this workout. In scenario 2 he identified he has a weakness in his pull ups so scaled them to Ring Rows and was then able to get the required stimulus and a good tough workout.

Scaling a workout is not a bad thing, you are simply taking a workout and personalising it to get you the best results.


CrossFit Journal: The Performance-Based Lifestyle Resource