Scaling: The key to success

Scaling has been a hot topic over the last few months at the 5 Seasons. We’ve had a bunch of new people start in the past few weeks, so no better time to discuss than now! Honestly it’s a great topic to always keep in the forefront of every movement you do at the gym.

But first, before we get started, let’s define scaling. Scaling is performing the workout to anything other than what is perscribed on the white board. This can mean, but is not limited to: modifying the weight, modifying the rep scheme, or modifying the movement all together.

Do NOT feel bad, ashamed, or embarrassed that you scaled or are planning on scaling a movement. In fact our entire program (and the sport of CrossFit) is built for scaling. Everyone at the gym is at a different point in their health and fitness journey. Athletes that are performing the workouts as prescribed, or “Rx” did NOT start off Rx’ing workouts on their first day, and if they did, it was questionable or sloppy at best. “Rx’ing” workouts when you are not ready can lead to injury, and believe it or not, set you further behind than someone at the same skill level who decided to scale properly!

First off, you must conquer the fundamentals before thinking about performing the movement as prescribed. This means first mastering the form, or points of performance, of the movement. Conquering the movement does not happen during the WOD, but should be focused on during the skill portion of the program. 5SCF trainers are there to help you progress towards mastery of the movement. It does not happen overnight, one session, or potentially even years. Mastery of all of these movements take thousands of repetitions to build muscle memory.

Ok, so how do I scale properly? Figuring out how to scale each movement takes time, experience, and self awareness. If you’re new to CrossFit, it’s not uncommon for this phase to take a few months or more. Our advice would be to start small. Start with the PVC bar. Start with an empty barbell. NOONE will judge you! Always remember, it’s You versus You! By starting small, you will be able to perfect your form and technique, while minimizing your risk of injury! Once you have proved that you can perform the movement, add weight/further progression of the movement. Don’t get us wrong, you still need to challenge yourself! Don’t feel like you have to do this alone. 5SCF trainers will help you scale each movement and workout.

“Success is a low trajectory into a distant horizon”

Let us give you an example. The workout of the day is Fran. 21-15-9 Thrusters (95/65) & Pull-Ups. You’ve never done a thruster before and have attempted pull ups but couldn’t quite get your chin over the bar. Depending on the strengths displayed by the individual prior to the workout, the trainer may prescribe PVC or empty 25# barbell for the thruster, and jumping chin over bar pull ups. Just because you’re modifying the workout does not mean that you cannot have the same intensity as someone who is performing the workout as prescribed (Rx)! If scaled properly, you should finish in relatively the same time as the person who performed it as Rx.

Bottom line, you have to be honest with yourself. Ask yourself, what is your fitness level with the specific movement? What are your health and fitness goals?

We’ll leave you with a phrase that can be used not only in fitness, but in multiple facets of life. Crawl, walk, run. You must crawl before you can walk and walk before you can run! No one was born running and no one grew up wishing they were still crawling.

Cliff & Nikki Rudzki – CFL1

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