CrossFit Crusade’s workouts are tailored to our clientele to provide intensity and results. That is why we have a “prescribed standard” for our workout of the day–the “WOD.” You’ll see the WOD described as “RX,” which is the workout’s baseline standard of weight or movement. You will also see a “scaled” option, a modified version of the prescribed workout.

It can be rewarding to see a workout written on the board and complete it RX (as prescribed). However, scaling workouts and modifying them to fit your fitness level is often a more practical and safe approach.

In this blog, we will discuss the importance of scaling and why athletes of all levels must listen to their bodies and coaches when deciding whether to scale a WOD. Our experienced coaches at CrossFit Crusade play a vital role in this process, guiding athletes to stick to the stimulus of the workout and fight the ego-driven urge to always “Go RX” every time.

Safety, Individuality, and Long-Term Success

The primary reason for scaling workouts in our CrossFit classes is safety. Every athlete who enters the doors will be at different fitness levels and capabilities and should not attempt every workout as “RX.” Scaling workouts by reducing the weight or changing a movement allows our coaches to tailor the workout to your level and limitations, reducing the risk of accidents and injuries.

Intensity comes after technique. This concept, called “threshold training,” is individual to each athlete. If you come into the gym and can squat perfectly–awesome! I’m going to tell you to move faster. But if you move too fast and that technique fails, it’s time to pull the speed back and find a proper balance between moving quickly and moving well. Good technique will always be the fastest way to move a load from point A to point B.

Your long-term success as an athlete depends on your ability to trust the process. On strength-focused days at CrossFit Crusade, we use progressive overload to slowly build up our strength rather than jumping into a heavy one-rep max. We focus on setting realistic goals and reminding you that growth takes time!

Confidence, Adaptation, and Peer Pressure

Scaling is essential to finishing the WOD and reaching the intended intensity of the day. We want you to be able to complete the workouts you do every day. If you come in and get discouraged day in and day out, you won’t see growth.

As an athlete competing in CrossFit for over 12 years, I recognize how discouraging it can be to approach a workout out of my fitness level. I always think back to the 275-pound clean and jerks for reps at the quarterfinals in 2023–this was outside of my fitness level! Completing a high volume of reps at that high weight was incredibly daunting.

Allowing your body to build its fitness naturally will grow your confidence. This process takes time and can be a great motivator if you let it. Our lives are full of other commitments, and CrossFit is not your only responsibility. Scaling allows you, as an athlete, to adjust your workouts based on life’s unpredictability. There will be days when you don’t have the time or energy to tackle an RX workout. Scaling will allow you to get the benefits of metabolic conditioning without overworking the body.

Our community is here to support each other, and we don’t let peer pressure push us into poor decisions that are outside our capabilities. It’s amazing to look around at your peers and see them tackle something challenging alongside you. Rather than comparing ourselves to others, we focus on personal progress and what’s appropriate for us.

Scaling workouts in CrossFit is not a sign of weakness; it is a smart, practical, and strategic approach to the program. Our program is about pushing your limits while listening to your body and making intelligent choices. We want every workout to feel the same for every athlete. For some athletes, this also includes understanding when to make things more challenging by “scaling up.”

An Example of Scaling Up and Down

Let’s take a look at the following workout:

5 Rounds for Time:

10 Thrusters (95/65#)

10 Pull-Ups

Time domain of 10:00 minutes

If the workout is prescribed as a 95-pound thruster for men and a 65-pound thruster for women, we know it is meant to be a moderate-load thruster. However, it is still meant to be a weight with which you could do an unbroken set of 10 reps due to the time domain set with the intention to finish in 10 minutes or less. With that known, going RX may be appropriate for Athlete A, while Athlete B might need to scale back the weight to hit all ten thrusters unbroken. Athlete C, however, is a fire-breather and can smash the workout RX in 5 minutes or less, which is too fast for the intended time domain. In order to meet the intended stimulus, this athlete may need to “scale up” and use a heavier thruster weight or scale up to chest-to-bar pull-ups to preserve the stimulus and a 10-minute time domain.

Suppose increased difficulty (increased weight or difficulty doing pull-ups) decreases the intensity (the workout now takes 12-14 minutes to complete). In that case, we have lost the goal of the workout and should scale back accordingly.

At CrossFit Crusade, we try to know our athletes and their abilities. We take the time to create workouts that fit your needs and ever-changing skills and capabilities. So listen to your body and coach, NOT your ego, and scale your workouts!