How often have you caught yourself saying that after you absolutely crushed a workout and someone told you how great you did?
Dara Sweatt
December 14, 2022

“...But I scaled.”

How often have you caught yourself saying that after you absolutely crushed a workout and someone told you how great you did?

I’m sorry, what?

You just crushed a workout and you're totally gaslighting yourself into thinking it wasn’t good enough. Friend, I’m here to help you shift that perspective. Scaling should be viewed as a tool to progress your abilities. Whether you did Rx+, Rx, or any Scaled version of the workout, that doesn't matter. ⁠What matters is that you were safe, hit the stimulus, and got a good workout in. That’s all.

Athletes at the highest level scale; coaches scale, and so does everyone else. It’s completely normal and even encouraged. Let’s get into it:

What is Scaling?
All scaling means is that you’re changing the intensity of the workout to meet you at your current level. You might use a lighter weight in a weightlifting session or bands to help you with pull-ups, a box to squat to, lower the reps, cals, meters, etc. Anything to help you hit the intended stimulus of the workout.

Why do we Scale?
First and foremost: safety.
If you are unable to lift an empty barbell, it is not safe for you to deadlift 100 pounds. If you cannot jump onto a 12-inch box, it is not safe for you to try and jump onto a 24-inch box. If you had knee surgery or a procedure and can’t get your knee below parallel, it is not safe for you to squat with any weight. If you had shoulder surgery or a procedure and can’t get your arm over your head, it is not safe for you to do single arm dumbbell snatches or pull-ups.

Are you catching my drift?

We also scale for skill.
And that doesn’t just mean when you don't have a movement down. It can mean that you can do it, but you haven’t mastered it enough for higher-volume reps. If you have a few RX pull-ups, but the workout requires 30 or more, in order for you to hit the stimulus and complete the workout as intended, you’ll need to grab a band or even do ring rows.

When do we Scale?
Maybe you’re working through an injury, took some time off, or just woke up feeling like dog crap and don’t have a full tank of gas. Other examples include: when you listen to your body and it’s screaming for you to dial it back or when your recovery is below 60%, and especially if it’s your first day or week(s) back from fighting a cold. That’s when you scale.

Who Should be Scaling?
Every. Single. Person. In. The. World. From coaches to beginners to moderate-level athletes to professionals. I scale. Everybody scales.  

How Often Should You be Scaling?
We should scale as often as our bodies need it, and depending on our skill level, even more. Remember, scaling doesn’t mean you are less than others, it is just a means to measure where you are at. Your GSC coaches will always help determine when and how to scale you properly. You can trust us to never hold you back. We are here to help.

Check Your Ego.
"99% of CrossFit injuries are a result of ego." - Coach Jason Ackerman

You might come into the gym one day and absolutely abolish an RX wod, and then a few days later, need to do the wod at a scaled level. It doesn’t mean you suck, even athletes at the professional level have to scale sometimes. It just means, for example, that you can’t do strict pull-ups without a band. And that’s okay! Something to work towards.

If you are pushing yourself because you genuinely want to be a better athlete, that is totally different from pushing yourself because you want to have “RX” next to your name on the leaderboard. It’s better to have hit the target and get in a fantastic workout than to not even finish the workout because you were too prideful to scale down.

When is it Appropriate to Scale Up?
This will all depend on the intended stimulus of the workout. Occasionally, there may be a time when doing the workout as prescribed for your level still does not achieve the intended stimulus. In this case, your coach may scale you up for the workout! Here at GSC, we use 3 levels for athletes to use as guidelines to choose scaling options and we guide them from there. For example, if your level calls for you to use a 10-pound wallball but your coach is well aware that you have the capacity and ability to use the 12-pound ball, that is what we will suggest you do. Scale up, baby! All your hard work has paid off! Sorry, not sorry!

Ultimately, scaling gives you the opportunity to safely achieve your fitness goals while improving individual skills that are unique to your abilities. Scaling a movement or a workout doesn't make you any less of an athlete than a member who does movements at the "Rx" level. Wherever you are in your journey it is important to remember that the only competition you are facing is yourself. Continue showing up, trying your best, and working on your weaknesses, and watch as your skills improve. If you are looking to scale up, simply ask your coach for a personal training session! We love helping you reach your goals!

Continue Reading

pushpress gym management software for boutique gyms and fitness studios