That’s right, scale workouts more often. This is important for everyone, no matter where you are in your crossfit experience and I want to share a story of how this was illustrated for me recently.
We did the workout Ingrid (10 rounds of 3 power snatches 3 burpees over the bar) and this has a moderately heavy Rx weight for me at 135. It’s a weight I have used in metcons before. However, it is not a weight that I can repeatedly use for unbroken sets of 3, at least not very pretty ones. Because I typically pick the Rx version, I went with 135 anyway and did singles the entire workout. I finished and was underwhelmed. I imagined that this workout, which should take around 6 minutes, would be super high intensity and have me gasping for air at the end. It didn’t. Because I did singles, I basically rested 30 times in 6 minutes. No wonder it didn’t feel very intense!
Had I ignored my ego and gone lighter, this workout would have been an entirely different challenge. Choosing a lighter weight and challenging myself to complete all or most sets of 3 unbroken would have been a much better test of my skill and endurance. I still got a good workout, but I left some fitness on the table that day.
Many times we pick a weight or a more difficult version of a movement just because we CAN do it or because that’s what we normally do. This doesn’t always mean we should though. Hitting the desired stimulus may force us to scale the weight or movement, but it’s going to be more beneficial in the long run. It will allow us to keep a higher, more consistent intensity throughout the workout, which is where the progress comes from.
The progress comes by way of improved cardiovascular fitness as well as improving our skill with that movement. With lighter weight, we are more likely to preserve our technique, further developing our proficiency and saving energy for bigger, faster sets. Maybe we didn’t hit the Rx button today, but scaling now will help us do so in the future.
Another argument for scaling is that sometimes our bodies (and brains) need a break. Give it to them! Just because we can lift that weight, doesn’t mean it’s the best idea for everyday. Give yourself permission to go lighter the day you return from vacation or on your 6th workout of the week. Just because you typically Rx, doesn’t mean you’re obligated to everytime. You’re not going to lose all your progress. I promise! Scaling doesn’t always mean easier, just like my example above.
All the numbers and measurables are great and crossfit wouldn’t be as effective as it is without them. Completely ignoring them would be a detriment to our progress. As important as they are, it’s just as important to allow ourselves to scale every once in a while. Whether it’s preserving the stimulus or listening to our bodies, scaling is not failing. In fact, it may be what we need for progress.