‘YEAH, BUT I SCALED…’ – WHY SCALING IS A LOT MORE COMPLICATED THAN YOU THINK!

April 16, 2019
"Yeah, but I scaled." I hate hearing this - its usually at the end of a WOD, when someone just crumpled to the floor, dead last by minutes, breathing hard while classmates go up to congratulate."Dude, that was awesome, way to fight through","You did SO good!","That was amazing, great job today","Good job finishing, way to not give up!""Yeah, but I scaled"As if scaling is something to be ashamed of, as if scaling is for the weak and the untrained. As if scaling means you didn't do the workout - or your workout was less worthy because you scaled.It isn'tWe are all in a constant state of scaling - even the elite of the elite, even for the few who make it to the finals at The CrossFit Games Double unders are scaled triple unders, MU are scaled weighted MU, 7 metre rope climbs are scaled 10 metre climbsSure, they aren't called for in the WODs today, but what about tomorrow?Scaling is how you get from where you are now to your future kickass self.Scaling is how you stay safe and healthy.Scaling is how you finish the workouts and feel obliterated after, using a band instead of just staring at the bar for 10 min willing yourself to get a pullup.Scaling is how you improve your technique and learn to lift heavier.Scaling, is not, however, something to be ashamed of or something that you can use to write off your WOD as a poor performance. So next time you are crumpled on the floor gasping for air, be proud that you choose the right scale for you. Be proud that you killed the WOD, and that the WOD killed you.

Scaling a workout is no reason to be ashamed

Nor is there any reason to be ashamed of requesting a scaled option from a coach. Whilst general scaled options are provided to you at the athlete briefing, never hesitate to approach a coach about an alternative option if you know that the scaled option is unsuitable.Furthermore, don't assume that the scaled options provided are simply picked out of thin air. Whether or not they are written on the board or provided to you at the last minute by a coach.Coaches are trained to assess the correct scaling alternative based on several factors which we've highlighted below with reference to material from the CrossFit Journal, just to prove my point and also to drill in the fact that 'scaling' doesn't automatically mean easier. In most cases scaled workouts force a lot more forethought and planning than a prescribed one!

CrossFit workouts are scaled to preserve the intended stimuli despite athlete limitations such as experience, injury, illness or range of motion.

This means that when we provide scaled options we need to consider the following:

  1. Time domain and desired metabolic pathway - is the workout designed to be a sprint, a grind, heavy or light?
  2. General Movement Patterns - Are the exercises metabolic, gymnastics based or include load? Are they pushing or pulling exercises? What plane of movement are the original exercises designed around?
  3. Complexity - Are they neurologically difficult movements like Olympic Lifts, Double Unders or gymnastic moves?

Once we consider these factors, we can then determine whether workouts should be scaled based on the following elements:

  1. Volume (number of reps)
  2. Load (weight lifted)
  3. Range of Motion

Then of course, we need to take into account someone's previous experience level. Do you require a scaling option because you're relatively new to CrossFit? Relatively new to the movement? Are you an experienced but injured athlete? Are you a returning athlete? How long has it been since you last did CrossFit?To aid in your decision of how to scale, athletes are usually provided an estimated time window to complete the workout or a suggested rep range. This is why sometimes you'll have a coach come around and tell you to change the weight. We have programmed the workout with an estimated time and rep range in mind for you. This includes consideration of your own abilities, which we are able to view every day you come in and workout! So unless you're feeling particularly crappy or strong and not letting the coach know about it: Trust them!

Safely scaling workouts for a wide range of athletes without sacrificing attention to non-scaled athletes—it’s an essential CrossFit coaching skill. Effective scaling at an affiliate demands an understanding of CrossFit programming theory, awareness of your athletes’ capabilities and limitations, and quick application of many possible scaling methods.

Trust your coach when we come up with a scaled option for you. Whether it's requested or not. Take the weight off or add the kgs as suggested by your coach.

It is OUR job as coaches to be on top of scaling variations and factors. It is YOUR job to trust the coach and trust the process.

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