Saturday, May 7, 2011


One of the great things about Crossfit is scalability. Most everyone who walks through the door scales workouts. Matter of fact, unless you are a gymnast, Navy Seal, or a freak of nature, I think you HAVE to scale the WODs for a while.

Scalability is what allowed this 300 lb 1 arm guy to keep coming back for more. Scaling helps you build strength faster by putting you through more reps in a full range of motion than you would gain by only doing a few reps whilst cheating form. The importance of scaling is clear.

Some people, mostly guys, are too prideful to scale. My 13 year old son insisted on not using a band
for pull-ups, even though he could only struggle out 1 or 2 full range pull-ups in a minute. I told him using a band (or going to knees on a push up) is no different than picking up the 25 lb dumbbell instead of the 50 lbs dumbbell for curls. It "feels" different because it is an assist versus scaling weighted equipment. It isn't. He finally got it and had much more productive WODs. Pride is mostly a guy issue.

On the flip side, and the main point of this post, is using scaling as a crutch. True, there are some exercises that some of us may never get. Muscle ups, HSPU, and some of the heavier weight WODs may always result in an "S" by your name on the whiteboard. That is OK. However, I think EVERYONE should be able to work up to Rx on many of the basic moves of Crossfit.

How do you know if you are scaling too much? If you scale workouts but consistently finish in the top 20%, you scale too much. I believe more difficult/slower produces faster results than being first but at B or C scale. How do you know if you've scaled to the right level? My method is to pick someone who does well at Crossfit (but isn't a rock star). I monitor if I'm finishing a round or reps about the same time. If I'm much faster, I add more weight. If I'm a little slower but doing more weight than last time, I made a great choice. Taking twice as long? It depends. If I want to Rx, it may be OK. If it is a skill I'm still developing, I may drop the weight slightly and get the form right. I adjust in the middle of new WODs all the time.

This brings me to a second point. You shouldn't have to guess at most of your capabilities. You NEED TO TRACK YOUR RESULTS. This isn't a study in narcissism, it is a practical tool for getting better. With smart phones, laptops, and iPads, you can easily track them. Figure out your own method, or refer to this old post. Not knowing your back squat max means you simply haven't written it down (unless you are new).

Crossfit can be competitive. I've seen people week after week scale the weight portion of a WOD so they can be first out the door to run. Sometimes, they beat the group by 10 minutes. They fail to realize that 38 minute at "A" weight is a better result than 28 minutes at B or C. So if you truly are competitive, load the bar, shed the band, get off your knees... be a little slower, but be an Rx'er! Trust me, you will feel a huge sense of accomplishment.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

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