I was listening to the Pursuing Health podcast hosted by former CrossFit Games athlete Julie Foucher recently. She was chatting with another CrossFit Games athlete, Amanda Barnhart.
The conversation was pretty wide-ranging covering everything from overcoming injury, a typical day of training and nutrition, and what it’s like going through Physical Therapy school while training full-time in CrossFit.
Related to that last piece, she spoke briefly about injuries in CrossFit and how often times, they’re related to ego – you lift too much too fast or attempt a weight you’re not prepared for. She went on to talk about scaling:
Rx means nothing if you’re just trying to be healthy.Amanda Barnhart
It’s All About the Stimulus
Last year, I remember 18.4. It was an Open workout that involved one of my least favorite movements – handstands.
I’m already pretty weak at handstand push-ups, but the standards were also pretty tough. I got through the 21 deadlifts and then spent the remaining time trying to chip away at the 21 handstand push-ups. In the 9-minute workout, I didn’t move beyond the first two exercises.
I came back that evening and attempted the scaled version, which utilize hand-release push-ups instead of handstand push-ups and bear crawls in place of handstand walks (another nemesis). I managed to make it through the entire workout under the time cap.
When I attempted the Rx version of the workout, yes, it was a challenge, but I also didn’t really feel like I got a great workout in. I spent the majority of the time trying to kick up against the wall again. When I attempted the scaled version, I left feeling sweaty, tired, and like I had put out a great effort.
Which was the better choice?
Obviously, we want you to challenge yourself to learn new movements, lift heavier weights, and take on more difficult progressions. On the flip side, you also need to keep your goals in mind. If the goal is health, is it more important to do Grace (30 Clean and Jerks) at the Rx weight (135/95#) in 15 minutes OR should you scale the weight to 95/65# and get it done in 5-6 minutes?
In a previous blog post, we ended with this:
Scaling isn’t anything to be ashamed of. When done appropriately, scaling is the smart choice.
Ultimately, keep in mind your end goal in doing CrossFit. We want everyone to challenge themselves and improve. If you’re goal is to compete in the Open or make the CrossFit Games, you should certainly aim for eventually doing the Rx variation.
However, for the majority of us, the goal is to simply move and be healthier. With that goal in mind, there really is no Rx weight. Tailor the workout to whatever is going to provide you with a challenging stimulus in the moment. If you’re unsure, ask a coach; that’s what they’re there for.
As we head into the CrossFit Open, keep this in mind. Scaling isn’t something to be ashamed of. It’s often the smart choice!