When scaling is a better option than RX


When scaling is a better option than RX

  February 25, 2018

Should I scale or should I go RX’d? That is a taunting question!  

No, scaled division is not reserved to newcomers only. And it is not all black and white even when we are an experienced athlete. 
So when should we chose to go for scaled movements or lower weights instead of the “real thing”? 


Who defines the RX division’s weights and movements? 

First off, we need to understand who gets to pick the RX weights and movements. They are usually chosen by the head coaches and not in a random manner.  

Head coaches receive feedback from the coaches and also observe the level of their athletes during class. They then decide of the weights. They want to push athletes who are scaling to keep grinding and also make sure they develop enough strength when strict movements are instructed.  



Newcomers scale 

There should be no hesitation. A beginner should scale. New to the gym, new to CrossFit, they learn by repetition and attending classes day after day.  

As a newcomer, they also want to avoid getting injured. they want the body to adapt as they progress into the different movements and progressions.  


Experienced athletes go back to basic  

It is humbling to be told to remove weight from the bar or to switch to a scaled movement.

It is not that experienced athletes cannot manage the load or the complexity of the movement is just that drills are required to be worked on over and over again. For instance, competitive and experienced athletes might want to perfect their HSPU by scaling back down to box assisted HSPU. Perhaps they haven’t trained the movement in a while, or maybe they just want to acquire more precision.  



Athletes scale to work around an injury 

Shoulder injuries is the most common types and it is not rare to see athletes scale down their workouts for ring rows. Ring rows, when done correctly are actually hard! But they allow development around the scapulae, strengthen lats, and forces the core to be active.  

Whenever we feel a niggle or need to work around an injury, scaling is always the right option.  


Making sense of our PR numbers   

We should roughly know our rep maxes for all major lifts. That is how we should decide if RX is right for us. If we cannot handle 60% of a rep max at a fast pace then we definitely need to scale.  

Scaling is not guessing, and is not degrading. Once again, the RX’d weights and movements are not absolute numbers decided by the God of CrossFit (which doesn’t exist by the way), but are really arbitrary! 


Photo Credits: Reebok, CrossFit Games


Tamara Akcay