Scaled--Rx--as written

Scaling// To a non-CrossFitter, scaling might sound like a step in preparing fish or some sort of climbing workout. It's vital to your fitness and understanding how to do it properly takes some time and experience.

Before you can scale your workouts to your own fitness, we should first understand "Rx" "as prescribed" or "as written". Writing a workout for Mac and I is like writing a recipe. We have a particular stimulus in mind just like a Chef has a particular taste, texture, presentation etc. in mind when they're cooking. There are a lot of things we hope you get out of each workout so when you scale, the idea is to preserve as many of those intended results as possible. This fall we did the benchmark workout "Grace" (30 clean and jerks for time). We didn't write it, it was already written, but the intended stimulus of "Grace" is very short and moderately weighted. It shouldn't take athletes longer than 5 minutes to complete. It tests, develops, and challenges mainly strength, power, coordination, speed, and stamina. When I saw that one of our athletes took 21:00 to complete Grace, I wasn't surprised to see the "Rx" next to their name and could only imagine the pride welling up in their heart over the little "Rx" next to their name. I don't use this example to belittle the accomplishment or to pick on that athlete but to confess that I obviously dropped the ball on explaining the intended stimulus. For the chipper this week, an athlete asked if they could jump around or if the order mattered. I felt like they were asking for Catsup on their steak and ice in their red wine. We're wod snobs, we don't care who knows it!


To do something "as prescribed" means to complete the workout with the full range of motion, with the written weight. But how do we even come up with the range of motion standards and the weights? At Harvest CF, we use the same movement standards seen at CrossFit HQ and from the Level 1 seminar. Squats with the hip crease below parallel, presses finished with the weight locked out overhead, etc. How do we decide the prescribed weight. Similarly, we choose weights seen in HQ programming, but we also use ourselves as the standard for the stimulus. What is "heavy" for Devin, Mac, and Leigh? 


Here are your scaling pro-tips to get the most out of your scaled workout!

1. Ask about the stimulus// What is this supposed to feel like? Is it a short, hard charger? Is it long and grueling? Should the load be light or heavy? How long should this take me?

2. Only scale what you need to// The biggest mistake we see with athletes (and the most annoying) is the mindset of "Well if I'm not getting the Rx then I'll just scale everything." I shouldn't have to explain how dumb this is. So I won't. 

3. Don't scale too far// the mindset of scaling shouldn't be to "make it easy." It should be to "make it realistic" Or "make it safer." Safer and realistic should still be challenging. Stay as close to the movement standard as possible. If you can get 4 or 5 toes to bar max, then once you can't get your toes up there, still try to get them as close as possible, don't drop off to knee raises because your toes won't touch.

4. Don't change the stimulus// see the example I used earlier about "Grace". 

4.a. Know the difference between pain, injury, and discomfort// the biggest culprit is rowing vs running. The point of thrusters and burpees is for them to be challenging (ok I'll turn off the Positive-Devin-talk-filter) the point of thrusters and burpees is to suck. The same goes for running and rowing. Shin splints are a result of poor running form and unfortunately you can't improve your running form without running. That barf feeling from rowing is from low anaerobic threshold. What is the best way to improve that? You guessed it!

5. Double unders v Single-Unders// Short sets like 15-30. Stick it out and get those doubles. Big sets like 40 and beyond; practice your dubs another time.

6. Keep your pride out of the equation// On the one hand, scaling can't be a strategy for better scores. On the other hand the Rx doesn't really count for anything other than people know that you did it the way it was written on the board. Don't use Rx as an excuse for a slower or bad score. "You beat me, but I did it Rx." If you're competitive, try to beat all the scores, Rx or not.

7. Strive for progression// still stuck on the green band? It's probably because you haven't used the purple band yet. You could begin the workout with one band and change once they become impossible.

8. Trust the coach// I've received some snarls from athletes when I remove or add weight mid workout. Did I slow you down because I didn't add weight fast enough? Think of it as a time penalty because you should have had more weight in the first place. Upset because coach doesn't think you can do that much weight? Be happy that coach cares more about how well you're moving than how much weight is on the bar!

9. Don't scale up// ???? Nobody who needs to scale up trains at Harvest CrossFit yet. Someday we might have someone (Rubes or Corey in a couple of years). But for now, just go faster. "Can I use the bigger kettlebell?" "Taller Box" is really code for "when someone beats my score I want to be able to say, yah but I did chest to bar pull-ups and triple unders, wore a weight vest and elevation training mask, and you only did it Rx."


We have a really healthy community! Harvest Athletes have awesome attitudes and you work hard whenever you're in the gym. Use these scaling strategies and advice to get the most out of your experience in at HCF

Devin JonesComment