To RX or Scale? What does it all mean?
By Coach Max
What does RX mean?
What does scaled mean?
Why does it even matter?
These are all questions we might be asking ourselves as we begin our “fitness” journey.
How do we get there?
What steps do we need to take?
Well, if you’re reading this post you’ve already taken the first step and by showing up at the gym you’ve taken the second; we thank you for that.
Before we started CrossFit our friends would tell us about WODs, AMRAPS, RFT, and a whole bunch of other lingo that didn’t make much sense. Now that we’ve been doing CrossFit for a month or two we know what that stuff stands for. We finally speak the secret CrossFit language.
Now we’ve started to notice two letters on the white board…RX.
What the heck does that mean?
It literally means the prescribed weights, movements, and distances for a specific workout.
Each workout at CrossFit TILT will have an RX. If you see those letters next to someones name it means that they have done the workout exactly as it is written. Let’s give an example:
Grace – 30 Clean and Jerks at 135/95.
If a male athlete writes RX next to this workout it means he performed 30 Clean and Jerks at 135lbs. Not only does it mean they used the prescribed weight it also means he performed the movements as they are written and hit all the movement standards.
The movement standards are just as important if not more important than the weight used. Hitting movement standards is ESSENTIAL to improving your fitness. At TILT we will be relentless in helping you hit these standards in every workout you do. It is the coaches job and responsibility to teach you how to move correctly, safely and with proper range of motion. We will have eyes on you during every workout to remind you to hit those standards. Going fast is great, but only when you are moving safely under an appropriate load, hitting standards. Keep in mind that the only way we can truly measure our fitness is to compare apples to apples. And that’s when the magic happens.
Ok rant about standards over. Let’s chat more about RX and scaling.
When a workout is written there is always a desired stimulus in mind. What the heck is a desired stimulus? Let’s talk about Grace again.
30 Clean and Jerks at 135/95.
The desired stimulus here is…FAST AND FURIOUS! Which means that we want you to move fast and finish the workout in under 5 minutes. Ok, that’s great and all but how do we get there?
Great question! Scaling!
We need to scale the weight in this workout to make sure that you complete this workout in under 5 minutes. This is why we are here! We know you. We know what you are capable of achieving and maybe just how hard you can push. That being said, we know what weight is appropriate for you. We will work together to find the right weight to help you achieve the desired stimulus. Then it’s a win win all around.
The first time I did Grace, 5 years ago, I completed it RX in 13:30…stimulus achieved? Nope. Should I have scaled it? Yes. (Remember when I said this workout should be finished in under 5 minutes?) Was it hard? Hell yes, but if I had known how to scale properly at the time I would have gotten a much better workout. Live and learn.
The bottom line is this. Most CrossFit workouts are written for a high level or elite athlete. There are going to be some workouts that you will never RX but that doesn’t mean that workout isn’t for you or that CrossFit isn’t for you. Don’t chase the RX on the board. Chase your personal RX for the day. What is your prescription for the day? What weights do you need to scale? What distances do you need to scale? What movement progression is right for you? I promise you that we will be there for you every step of the way.
Secret Tilt handshake could be like a fist bump but you put your other hand flat over your closed first to make a “T” shape….
Fist, that is
Great post Max.
Nicely don, thanks!
Thanks Max this is great to know especially the part regarding the stimulus purpose of a workout.
I actually want to ask about this earlier. There are two parts to my question. First, how do I know when I’m ready to RX a workout? How do I measure my scaling and make sure I’m building my PRs into an RX?
For me, I have an injury and I’ve been scaling everything for the last few months. I’m starting to feel better and starting to wonder if I’m phoning it in. Should I do that run? Should I attempt a box jump? I’m cautious so I skip it and that’s when I wonder if I’m doing myself a disservice.
I see these two things as similar, whether we are new or coming off an injury how do we know when to step it up?
I’m in a similar boat. I had to step it back a bit, which sucks, especially when you know what you were capable of pre-injury. But, I’m trying to switch my focus, I used to only care about adding more weight, moving faster, hitting PRs..etc. Sometimes an injury forces you to switch your approach, now I’m working on how well I move, how are my mechanics? And most importantly, how many days have I been pain free and how do I keep that up? Preventing injury is way more important than hitting your next PR (because once you do have an injury or re-injure yourself, that PR REALLY ain’t happening any time soon!)
Very nice, Max
So great! Thanks Max!
Great article! I tried crossfit about three months ago and well….thought I was a hero. Needless to say I was pretty much bed bound for a week. I recently started again and due to my Lyme’s Disease I have learned that it’s okay to scale. My coaches have been amazing and do not let me over do it. I am now loving crossfit, I don’t feel overwhelmed or not good enough because I can’t do what everyone can. But, I know I will get there!!
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