Note: Not sure what RX or Scaled means? Check out our blog on those terms here
Everyone wants to be able to put “RX” next to their name on the leader board at the gym. It’s almost a badge of honor knowing you are doing the workout exactly as it is written. But guys and gals I’m here to tell you, as coaches, nothing impresses us more than when an athlete knows when to pull back the weight or modify the movement so that you can complete the workout as it should be completed: quickly and without form breaking down. The RX movements and weights are a suggested goal, not a line drawn in the sand to distinguish fitness. Just because you can’t do RX one day doesn’t mean you won’t be able to the next day. Also remember: just because you CAN do a weight, doesn’t mean you SHOULD use it in a workout.
There are two main reasons to scale a workout. The first is to maintain TECHNIQUE. For example, say we have deadlifts at 225 lbs in the workout with 4 sets of 10 reps. You know those first 10 might be flawless with a great straight back and nice tight core. But you also know that as the rounds begin to add up your core will tire and your back will start to round. That is when you should scale down the weight and find a weight that is both challenging but will allow you to keep that technique to be near perfect. Doing this is not just to keep the technique perfect, but to also keep you from seriously injuring yourself.
The second reason is SPEED. As coaches we give a time cap not to give you a time to shoot for, but to stop you from working out the “wrong” way. Take the workout “Annie” for example. Annie is 50-40-30-20-10 of double unders and sit ups. As coaches we could say the time cap is 20 minutes, but Annie is designed as a sprint and should be completed in less than 10 minutes. If you struggle with double unders and know that doing the workout “RX” will mean that it turns into a long, slow drag then you should scale back to single unders until your double unders are more efficient. Another example of this is the workout Fran which is 21-15-9 reps of thrusters at 95 lbs and pull ups. This is another sprint. The first set of 21 thrusters should be completed in about 2 minutes. If you know that 21 thrusters at 95 lbs is going to take you a while then you need to scale the weight down to something more manageable that you can move at the pace expected.
If you see a workout and realize you shouldn’t be doing the RX version you may be asking, “Okay, but how should I scale this movement or what weight should I do?” Ask a coach, it’s what we’re here for! We will often tell you to reduce the weight, if that doesn’t correct the problem then we will have you change the movement slightly. You see this all the time with cleans from the ground. We may tell you to do cleans from the hang instead. Or you may do cleans instead of snatches, or no push-up burpees instead of regular burpees. The list goes on, but since you may not be able to remember all the movements that relate to each other, that’s why we are here to help you get the best possible workout for YOU.