The Three Bears of Scaling

Over scaling and under scaling... This ones JUST right scaling. If I contradict myself thirty times during this blog don't worry about it, because I won't.

Scaling! It's a wonderful thing about CrossFit WOD's but it's also a grey area if you're not too sure on how to progress with your training, or if you're a "I'll just do whatever's on the board" kind of person (which there is absolutely nothing wrong with). There are many different ways to attack workouts and there is a few things to be aware of and look out for so let's go!

It's you against you

1. Not lifting heavy enough
…Or scaling bodyweight movements for a good time on the board. The board is a great tool for your own personal development but when it becomes solely about the time and not how much you've actually challenged yourself it's not a good way to progress. If you're finishing a WOD five minutes before everyone else saying "phew that was tough I got my sweat on there" and they're all still knocking their pan in and collapsing afterwards unable to speak, you may be coasting. Getting comfortable is NEVER good for development!

2. Lifting too heavy
Let's take a simple workout like Grace, 30 clean & jerks for time FOR TIME! If you're standing there after 15 minutes using the RX weight looking at the barbell for forty seconds between reps you're not doing a WOD you're doing crappy strength training with dodgy rest intervals NOT a good idea and you may hurt yourself if you form slips, scale it down aim for a good time then increase the next attempt whilst still trying to beat your original time, intensity is the key with sprint style workouts.

3. Never scaling when you are an RX athlete
Yeah you can get good times, you're well rounded, your lifts are good your form is impeccable... Are you above scaling now? I don't think so. Every now again it's recommended to have deload weeks etc. but to keep yourself at top performance or increase your times why not every now and again strip the weight back down and really practice your technique and speed when you're doing multiple reps, get that muscle memory then when you go back to your normal weights you should be able to maintain some of that new found speed with heavier loads. It's also a nice rest for your nervous system, remember when you start lugging heavier weights around the need for looking after yourself increases!

4. Not utilising other gym times!
Most CrossFit Boxes have open gym times or barbell clubs or strength sessions on offer too, these times are KEY to your progress as an athlete! They won't be structured like a WOD session is but take the things that you find you struggle with and things you have seen demonstrated in technique sessions and GET TO WORK! The strength part of WOD's is there but spending a full hour working on your back squat and strict press with some sort of supplementary exercise will reap major benefits with your overall strength and performance. When you get to a certain point with your fitness you will find that you just really want to lift HEAVY and that's what these times are perfect for!

5. Never finishing WOD's or giving up
Now obviously everyone starts in different places with their fitness levels but if you're still struggling to get through a full workout even with scaling DON'T WORRY ABOUT IT! The main thing is that you keep going and you don't quit! If you really give it your all and just go all the way to the time cap you've done a damn good job and I'll be proud of you every time! If you decide you're too tired and give up on yourself? Fair enough but I'll tell you I've done it once and it still bugs me to this day!

6. Not knowing your pace
In longer WOD's your initial level of intensity should be lower in order to maintain it throughout the entire workout then have enough energy to speed up towards the end, if you're doing a chipper with 50 of everything and you do your first 100 reps unbroken and then can't see straight and start using an over under snatch grip for cleans you're gonna have a bad time. It is awesome having to tell someone to slow down but at the same time always keep control of your motor skills!

7. Not knowing your pace AGAIN
On the flip side you can be too chilled out, if you're taking right up to the time cap and strolling around casually afterwards you probably didn't give it your all, I've been guilty of this a lot of times and just trying to keep a steady lead over people when I've known fine rightly I should be going faster, it comes right back round to being comfortable again, I'm happy enough with how fit I am why should I bother trying harder? Emmmmm to progress as an athlete and a human being maybe?? NEVER stop pushing yourself.

8. Pushing yourself too hard
 If you know fine rightly your form is starting to suck but you're still trying to blast it like speedy Gonzales with a stegosaurus shaped spine STOP IT you're going to hurt yourself. If your coach is telling you off once fix it, if they tell you off again take a deep breath and a couple of seconds rest and start again if it happens a third time you should drop the weight or scale the exercise. Abs aren't worth injuries.

9. Staying away from exercises or never trying
Fair enough if you have a legitimate reason to stay away from certain things but if the reason is you just don't like it or feel like you suck at it it's not a very good one... If you've to do 21 handstand push ups and you can only do 3 before your shoulders physically just won't work after well why not at the start of the WOD do your 3 then jump down and do 18 pike push ups? Don't be afraid to scale mid WOD as long as you can keep up the intensity, you're looking for OVERLOAD!

10. Trying to do exercises you can't do
Say it's 21,15,9 HSPU box jumps, power cleans and you finish the workout any your score is 7 handstand push ups... You haven't really done a workout have you? You've done 7 reps of one exercise over 15 minutes.... That's not very good now is it? ALWAYS pick an option with a full range of motion that is challenging enough but you can still do multiple reps of with speed! Use those other gym times to enhance those movements first THEN bring them to your WOD game!

11. Not keeping a training log
Workouts although constantly varied still have similarities, you're always going to be able to flick back and for instance notice WOD's with the same rep scheme and say one weightlifting element and two gymnastics, that way you can see what weight you used that time and what scaling you used for the bodyweight exercises, try upping the weight or if you were doing push ups from your knees try full push ups but still try to beat the time from before! It's a good confidence booster for yourself as it's always a good way to see how you've got stronger.


The main point of this post is there is no point, there is many different ways to do WODs and you've just gotta make sure you're being mindful of what you're doing otherwise you'll start to plateau and not even realise, pick a plan, record the results and keep mixing it up!

Keep the body guessing and it will adapt to suit so you'll be ready for anything. Find out where you're at with your scaling and start to build on it! Aim to improve weaknesses and never be afraid to try a new approach! Get to the gym and make it happen! GOOD LUCK!