As you progress in your CrossFit journey, Scaling is essential to ensure that you stay healthy and injury free while you progress in gaining strength and developing movement patterns. As an older athlete, scaling may be a permanent part of your fitness routine. There is no shame in that.
Different Day – Different Scaling
If you are a “vintage” Masters CrossFitter, you know that last week’s scaling, may not be this week’s scaling. Recovery plays such a large role in how you approach your next visit to the box. Some days I can handle a 20″ Box Jump, but other days I may be doing Step-ups.
Today I am confident that I could walk into my box and do 25 Box Jumps. But two days ago, after a 400m run, and 40 lunges, I could not. It isn’t simply the individual movement, it is also the combination with other movements within the WOD. It may also be the number of reps, or rounds that will determine your “Scale du Jour”.
The intended stimulus of the workout is also key to determining your scale for a workout. For example, a WOD that includes Pull-ups often scales to Banded Pull-ups, or Jumping Pull-ups from a box. But if the intended stimulus is to keep moving at an intense pace for three rounds, for a 12-15 minute WOD, you may not have time to mess with getting into bands without introducing delays or rest into the workout. In that case, a Ring Row provides the fastest transition for that WOD’s stimulus, though the movement pattern differs slightly from a vertical Pull-up.
A good coach gets to know her athletes, she knows when and where to push them to motivate them, and to encourage progress. But she also knows when to throttle back, to ensure they stay healthy.
During the course of a class your coach should be reviewing athletes movements and their respective progressions. This is not simply to prepare you for the WOD, but also to help her segment the class according to athletes ability. Once that is done she can assign the scaled movement and/or rep scheme for each segment of athletes, and even dial in more specifically for some athletes.
Scaling is Not Shameful
This should be obvious, but unfortunately some coaches attach a stigma to scaling. Sad but true. Personally, I find comfort in the fact that by starting CrossFit in my 60’s, people generally have low expectations of me. So accepting the concept of scaling is easy for me. However, many of my younger friends see scaling as an affront to their manhood.
Frequently I run into a younger guy who is lifting poorly. He is failing on his attempts to lift the bar overhead. Or he is stopping every two or three reps. After the WOD I’ll ask why he didn’t select an appropriate weight. He’ll reply, “I wanted to go Rx.” But the fact is that though he lifted Rx weight, he failed to do the WOD Rx because he negated the intended stimulus.
Most Athletes Should be Scaling
When I attended my CrossFit L1 Seminar I was pleased to see the focus that was placed on movement, scaling and WOD Programming. Spencer Hendel taught this module and he impressed upon me that a WOD is designed for the elite athletes as Rx, all others scale*. Armed with this knowledge, I no longer felt like I needed to apologize for being Scaled. “I finished in 9:07, but I was Scaled.”
e·lite – a select part of a group that is superior to the rest in terms of ability or qualities.