CrossFit Open ...RX or Scaled

One of my favorite podcast and fitness website Barbell Shrugged sent out the following email today and I just wanted to share the text with you all. So the next time I give you a lighter weight or ask you to do something different, remember there is a reason! It's my job to make sure you accomplish the goal of the programming which will in turn help you accomplish your personal goals!  Read the email below.


This ever cross your mind about scaling a WOD? I hear it a lot. I’ve even said similar at times.  But why do so many of us have such a mentality towards scaling?

A little history lesson…

Back in 2013, CTP wrote a blog article called “How to Avoid Scaling All Your WODs: Why Going Rx is Preventing You From Going Rx”. It’s still up and if you’ve had stigma about scaling, you definitely should give it read when you get the chance.

In the article, CTP writes that by constantly trying to go “Rx” on a workout when you don’t have the skill or strength to do so is just hurting your ability to ever go Rx in the future.

Here’s why:

Let’s say you’re doing a WOD that calls for chest-to-bar pull-ups like in 16.1 and there’s no way in hell you can do them but you are so focused on “going Rx” that you try anyways but just end up flailing around on the bar looking an awkward dying fish trying to kip yet pretty much failing at it.

Sure you can get a little bit of satisfaction from being able to do a few reps of the Rx movement when you couldn’t before but this does you little good in the short or long term. By going Rx when you should be scaling:

  • You aren’t doing the workout with intensity as intended so your strength and conditioning may not improve
  • You’re opening yourself up to possible injury to your body and/or your self-esteem/self-respect.
  • You’re not practicing proper technique necessary to improve your skill at the movement.

Your wanting to go Rx and telling yourself you couldn’t respect yourself by not is your pride talking.

Bottom line: there’s nothing wrong with scaling. Scale to a level that’s challenging for you and don’t think twice about it.

It’s often necessary and a crucial part of the process of developing as an athlete. I’m not ashamed to admit I scaled (couldn’t do kipping pull-ups to save my life when I first started). As a weightlifter I scale all the time. I’ll most likely have to scale this year’s Open. Mostly everyone scaled at some point with the exception of a few folks. It’s how we all got better.

So don’t let pride get the better of you and make the mistakes that many make by trying to rush into Rx land. Use the time outside of the metcons to work on your weaknesses by doing the additional strength, skill and accessory work you know you need to do.