Everything is a Scale

by Coach Chris

Running a sub 4-minute mile was thought of as impossible. Scientists said a human body simply wasn’t capable of it. That if someone would miraculously do it, they would die. Well, in 1954 Roger Bannister proved the world wrong and more than a few people have followed in his path. To date, there are a few people in the world who have run over 100 sub 4-minute miles. (Including local Villanova XC/track coach Marcus O’Sullivan)

When I started looking at CrossFit workouts in 2007, I looked at the weights prescribed and said, “I can’t do that!” Many people are intimidated by CrossFit because these workouts call for decently heavy weights and gymnastic movements that are unfamiliar to most.

What I learned is that we can scale the prescribed (Rx) workout to any level of strength and ability. If you can’t deadlift 225 pounds with good form, we scale it down to 155 or 95 or even PVC pipe so you can do it with the form we expect.

At CrossFit Kanna, we don’t even like using the term “scale” because it implies “less than.” We’d rather say “modify” or “progression” because the fact is that everything is a scale. Even the Rx.

The Rx should be seen as a guide for what kind of stimulus we need out of a workout. Your coach should go over this stimulus either in written form when they release the workout and/or at the whiteboard when you come in for the workout. “This should be short and intense” or “This is more of a grinder, sweaty workout” will let you know what to expect and how to modify.

If it’s supposed to be a short, intense workout, then using a weight heavier than you can handle will defeat the purpose of the workout. You’ll be resting too much between reps! This is why we scale/modify/progress.

Even the Rx is a scale. Back in the early days of CrossFit, 155# push presses were REALLY heavy for men, but now it’s seen as a moderate weight. Just like before 1954 scientists thought running a sub 4-minute mile was impossible, the scale is ever shifting to stronger, faster humans.

In rare situations, we may scale someone up in terms of weight or difficulty of a movement. Why are these situations rare? Because if a weight comes easily for someone, we’d rather see them simply move faster through a workout (assuming good form). Intensity is where the good stuff lies. Fat loss. Strength gains. etc.

Don’t focus on whether you Rx something or not. Instead, focus on:

-did you have good form? (your coach should give you feedback on this since you might not know)
-did you meet the stimulus of the workout?
-did you have fun? (well, maybe not during the actual workout)

When someone does their first Rx workout, we celebrate because it usually means they’ve been working hard to get stronger and faster. But we can’t sacrifice the bullet points above just to put Rx next to our name.

What do you think of Rx vs. scaling? Did/Do you have trouble not doing something as Rx?

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