June 06, 2009
Clea Weiss explores a few good ways to scale CrossFit effectively.
Scaling is an important aspect of Crossfit, but one that’s often misunderstood. Correctly altering and customizing workouts can increase your work capacity, make training more gratifying and keep your Fran times well under 20 minutes—all good things.
The simple fact is that the WODs posted on CrossFit.com are designed for elite athletes with CrossFit experience, and almost all new CrossFitters will have to scale their workouts. But scaling properly isn’t easy.
So how do you scale to achieve the best results?
There are various ways to scale. How to elicit the most effective response is both subtle and complex. You don’t always scale by reducing the duration of workouts, for instance. Scaling correctly will increase work capacity more efficiently than attempting to complete workouts as prescribed before you’re ready for them. Properly lowering the weight and achieving a faster time will actually yield a higher level of power.
It’s also critical to scale weight on workouts. You need to evaluate the point of the WOD. In CrossFit, one-rep max days exist for a reason: to build strength while struggling with a heavy load. If the WOD calls for 30 clean and jerks at 155 pounds, it’s clearly a met-con WOD. If you turn the workout into 30 single reps with a minute rest between them, you’ve missed the point. Lowering the rep count, altering the movements themselves, and tinkering with round and rep prescriptions are other options.
Careful scaling works—but it takes planning and experience. Track your progress, evaluate the results of your scaling and correct your mistakes. Talk to other coaches and athletes and ask for advice. Think, plan and educate yourself. Most importantly, keep at it.