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Scaling Isn’t Failing

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By Jennifer Templet

CrossFit Algiers Intern

One of the many reasons that I absolutely love CrossFit is because the workouts can be scaled or modified to accommodate any fitness level.  Before I ever walked into a CrossFit box, I had no idea that if you couldn’t do the workout as prescribed or written (i.e., Rx), that you could still attend class and complete the WOD by scaling the workouts.  I thought, what you see is what you get, if you can’t do it, then you don’t belong here. I could not have been more wrong.


So what exactly is scaling and why is it important?  Scaling is how you maintain quality movement throughout the WOD by modifications.   An example of scaling might be to modify the workout by lowering the weight, by lowering the reps, by lowering the rounds or by modifying the movement.  

Why is scaling important? Each workout has a desired intent or stimulus. For example, some workouts are meant to be fast, you don’t want to spend 15 minutes trying to Rx a workout that was meant to be finished in 7 minutes or spend 7 minutes on a workout that was meant to be finished in 15 minutes.  Take Fran for example, this workout is meant to be fast and completed in a short amount of time. You are not going to reach the desired stimulus of Fran if you are taking too many breaks and grabbing your knees from being out of breath during the workout. If you are resting more than working, you are missing the intent of the workout.  

Scale accordingly to reach the workout’s desired stimulus, and if you have questions about how or if you should scale, don’t be afraid to ask your coach, they know the intended stimulus of the workout and can give you great scaling options.

To me, it is more important to get the quality of the workout than it is to have Rx next to your name.  Focus on getting better, one movement at a time, teaching your body to respond to programming rather than trying to hit the Rx button for every workout.  Scaling keeps you safe and helps you move more efficiently to eventually be able to lift heavier loads and bring up the intensity. First learn to master the movement mechanics with good form, from there add repetitions with good form (consistency), and lastly add intensity, which can be anything from speed, weight, repetitions, etc.  

Scaling does not mean failing.  Just because you scale doesn’t mean you aren’t going to get a great workout in or that you are not going to improve, there is always room for improvement, in every athlete.  Track your progress, know your limits, keep challenging yourself. Be proud of where you are and happy to be on the path towards becoming a better version of yourself.