Scaling a WOD

Hey coach, how do I scale this WOD?

Let’s talk about scaling and how to use it to reach your goals.

As you can see from the blog I did a few weeks ago scaling can be used to make the same WOD very different depending on what your individual goal is.

I won’t go over those details again but what I want to talk about is weight choices and what to do in a WOD where there is skill that you are still trying to master.

Choosing the weight to lift is very much down to your goal. I discussed how to adjust the weight to focus on strength or conditioning in the previous blog but here I want to discuss the first goal for the majority of us – looking DAMN GOOD!

Let’s be honest, for the majority of us our first goal is to get a very lean physique and to look DAMN GOOD. So now that we’ve admitted the ‘beautiful’ truth the next question is how do I get there ASAP!?!

Thankfully it’s now universally accepted that the best way to improve your physique is through explosive training and lifting heavy weights which would explain why CrossFit is so popular, because that’s exactly what we do!

This doesn’t mean that lifting heavy weights should be confined to strength training, in fact you can scale your WODs to meet this goal too.

Let me explain.

If the WOD has a recommended (rx’d) weight which is heavier than you have lifted before people often find it hard to figure out what weight to use but this shouldn’t be the case. The answer is simple , lift 90-95% of your 1 rep max. As long as you have good technique (if you don’t you will obviously lift less) this will result in you doing a lot less reps but getting a hell of a lot stronger and therefore one step closer to your goal.

This will mean that you have to take big breaks in between lifts because you are lifting very heavy weights so you’re not going to get the best score of the day, in fact, you probably won’t get the WOD finished inside the time cap – but who cares? The point is you’re one step closer to your goal and you just did more reps with 90-95% of your 1 rep max than you thought was possible – enjoy the confidence this will give you, it’s well deserved.

Over time this scale will eventually allow you to do WODs as rx’d. At that point I would recommend doing the workouts at the rx’d weight (because it was put at that weight with a specific goal/focus in mind) unless your coach tells to you to scale them differently due to a current goal/focus (or injury).

So now that I know how to chose a weight what do I do if a skill I currently can’t do comes up?

Be it double unders, handstands, muscle ups or pistols etc there’s always some skill we are chasing so lets look at how we can get there ASAP.

For this I’m going to use double unders as an example as it tends to be the first skill most of us try to master in CrossFit. Again the answer is simple.

Every time double unders comes up in a WOD you simply get to that point and then spend the rest of the WOD practising double unders. To use an example, if the WOD is a 7 minute AMRAP (as many rounds as possible) of 10 thrusters and 30 double unders you would do your 10 thrusters in the first round and then spend the rest of the time practising double unders, if you get the 30 done you move on but if you don’t you’ve just spent a lot of well needed time practising that skill.

The above is how I do it in my own training because its the fastest way to master a skill. Is it frustrating to spend what seems like forever missing rep after rep? yes, of course, but if you keep reminding yourself of why you are doing this (i.e. to master a skill) then you’ll be happy to keep working.

I do, however, find when I’m coaching that a lot of athletes don’t have the patience for this therefore another method I use is when it comes to the skill I get the athlete to spend the next 2-3 minutes practising that skill before moving on. Whilst using this method won’t get you the skill as fast it will allow you to move on with the WOD which can help avoid you getting too frustrated (or even bored!)if things aren’t going to plan.

The take aways. For choosing weights if you haven’t lifted the rx’d weight before – use 90-95% of your 1 rep max, take plenty of rest and get stronger. To help develop a skill either spend the rest of a WOD practising it (or use the next 2-3 minutes of the WOD), be patient and before you know it, it’ll be like second nature to you.

As always, and most importantly, remember to enjoy your fitness!

Stay Classy CrossFitters!
Fergus and the Team
CrossFit Blackfriars

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