Why You Should Scale a Workout | Cannon Fitness and PerformanceA workout of the day (WOD) is typically written “as Rx’d” or as prescribed. Completing the workout as it’s written means you’ve done the WOD as Rx’d.

But what if you look at the whiteboard and think, “I can’t do a 95-pound overhead squat.” or “I can’t do handstand pushups.”

Scaling a workout allows you to modify a workout so that you’re still getting the intended training effect while matching where you are in your fitness journey. It allows you to modify a workout to suit your individual fitness, experience, and performance levels. Scaling does not make a workout easier. It’s not cheating. And it doesn’t mean you’re phoning it in.

Before taking a closer look at some of the reasons why it’s a good idea to scale a workout, here are a couple of reasons NOT to scale.

  • If a particular movement isn’t one of your strengths, you might be tempted to sub in something else. Switching out movements to suit your strengths isn’t scaling.
  • Even though you can do a workout as Rx’d, it doesn’t mean you should. Rx’d isn’t always the best thing for you or your training. Don’t let your pride or ego dictate how you do each workout. If you need to scale, then do what’s best for your body.

And now, here are three reasons why you should scale:

1. Injury

An injury (or a recent illness) might mean that you need to dial it back in the gym. When you’re scaling due to an injury, you may need to use less weight or swap out one exercise for something else so that you don’t end up re-injuring yourself.

2. Skill

Never do a movement that you can’t perform safely and with proper technique. As you’re learning and improving your skills (especially in the more complex movements like cleans, snatches, and muscle-ups), stick to wherever you are in the progression and don’t skip ahead. If you’re still progressing toward pullups or handstand pushups, then you can do a similar movement that’s similar and just as effective.

3. Strength

Plain and simple, if the prescribed load is too heavy for you (or is close to your 1RM), you can scale by making it lighter.

The key to scaling is to understand the desired purpose of a particular workout and match it. If the WOD is meant to target strength over speed, then you’ll want to maintain that training stimulus with how you scale. A fifteen-minute workout shouldn’t turn into a five-minute workout (and vice versa).

If you’re feeling lost, your coach can help you figure out how to appropriately scale so that you’re hitting the intended time domain, the number of rounds/reps, or the programmed outcome of the workout.

For more information on the programs and classes we’re currently offering at Cannon Fitness and Performance in Houston, contact us today.