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Scaling Your Workouts for a Better CrossFit Experience…And Results!

December 06, 2014

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Scaling Your Workouts for a Better CrossFit Experience…And Results!

The World’ Fittest Man and Woman, Rich Froning and Camille Leblanc-Bazinet, can RX a CrossFit workout at nearly anytime, but for most of us Crossfitters, the RX’d WOD, at least initially, can be an elusive concept.

But, thanks to the ability to scaled workouts, everyday Crossiftters can experience the same or better results than some Games athletes. As stated by CrossFit’s Founder Greg Glassman, “The needs of an Olympic athlete and our grandparents differ by degree not kind. One is looking for functional dominance, the other for functional competence….We scale load and intensity; we don’t’ change programs.”  

One of the most important reasons to scale workouts is to maximize your results and experience with CrossFit.

Don’t think that because you are not doing the RX’d version of a workout that you are not challenged or improving your fitness. A CrossFit Journal story from several years ago discussed how a five-foot, 10-inch, 180 pound athlete who completes Fran in nine minutes with a 95 pound barbell generates a power output of 98.2 watts, and that same athlete using a 75 pound barbell, finishes the workout two minutes faster at an increased power output of 115.7 watts. That is some Froning-level intensity right there!  

The increased work capacity of a scaled workout begins not just with the weight used, but also with the use of proper technique. If you attempt to use the prescribed weight for a WOD that includes front squats, for example, you may use poor technique, such as leaning to far forward with the weight in the rack position, leading to significant injury to your back or knees.  

By using a manageable weight that is challenging for you to complete the prescribed number of reps with proper technique, you can see dramatic results from your CrossFit workouts. Some of those results are measurable, while numbers alone can’t measure others, including a better quality of life, improved ability to move around, and ability to more easily handle every day tasks. These are all direct results of being part of a properly programmed CrossFit program for your abilities.  

In addition to using manageable weights for your ability level, there are other ways to scale WODs, including:

  • Scale the Time or Rounds– e.g. – change a 20:00 AMRAP to 12 minutes, or switch a five rounds WOD to three rounds.
  • Use Fewer Reps– e.g. cut a WOD like Grace from 30 reps at 135 pounds to 15 reps at 95 pounds, or instead of a 21-15-9 workout use a 15-9-6 format
  • Modifying Movement– e.g. substitute muscle-ups with ring rows and dips.
  In conclusion, the scaled workout can help make you – the CrossFit athlete – better, stronger and faster – but also help you achieve it safely and within your ability. And, hopefully lead to eventual RXd workouts in the future

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