Scaling IS for YOU!

Can you squat 300 lbs? Run a 6 minute mile? Do 50 unbroken pull ups? If you answers no to any or all of these things, scaling workouts is for you. If you answered yes to all of these questions that is great! Scaling is still for you. You see, scaling workouts is a good thing because it means you are getting YOUR best workout for that day. Each and every workout we do has a specific intent. Some days it is a move short and fast or maybe long and heavy. Other days the intent may be to work on a skill. Every day is different. That is the beauty of CrossFit, there is always something new, challenging, and excited to work on. However to make the quickest progress, scaling workouts to your specific needs is essential. So how do you know if you should be scaling a workout or not?

The weight is too heavy

            This is the most common reason for scaling, however usually the most accepted reason to scale a workout. Obviously if you can’t power clear 95 lbs one time and the workout has 45 power cleans at 95 lbs, you will not be taking that workout RX. However there are other things to consider. Did your form break down towards the last time you tried a lot of power cleans at 95 lbs? Did your back round, or your knees collapse in on the pull? Did your coach correct several times during the middle of the workout to no avail? In these scenarios, you are much more likely to make progress if you lose your ego at the door and scale the workout to your needs.


Injuries are a great reason to scale workouts. As CrossFitters we pride ourselves on mental toughness and the ability to push through pain. However, there is a difference between pain, and injury. If you are injured we also scale the workout by changing movements, volume, or intensity to fit your needs. Do not get discouraged! Brent Fikowski went from being a mediocre regional athlete (one of my life goals) to standing on the podium at the CrossFit Games. When asked what he did differently he said “I got injured.” His lower body injury forced him to focus on upper body strength while he was recovering, which happened to be his biggest weakness. My point is, there is always something to work on and you can come out on the other side of an injury better off than you think. The absolute worst thing you can do is not come. ALWAYS COME TO CLASS!

Fine tuning

Are there any movements we do in class that you just haven’t seemed to get better at? I know I have a bunch of these. The best way to get past technique barriers is to work on the skill of the movement. This can be hard to do in the middle of a workout when you are breathing heavy in an intense workout. So sometimes the best idea is the scale the workout down in order to fine tune minor errors in your movement. As an example if the workout has push ups and you’re trying to rx, but in order to get your chest the ground you need to flair your elbows out, compromise your shoulder health, and do the worm off the ground, you are much better off doing push ups from your knees with proper form. Proper form leads to results much more quickly then poor movement at the RX standard. Trust me, I did this the hard way.

Meet the workout intent

Every workout we do has a specific intent. Lets use Fran as an Example. 21-15-9 of thrusters and pull-ups. This workout is meant to be blazing fast. The goal is the elevate your heart rate to very uncomfortable levels and be left on the ground gasping for air when you finish. If know you can do 45 pull ups and thrusters in a workout but its going to take you 10-15 minutes, this is a workout that you should scale in order to meet the intent for the day. Maybe its 21-15-9 thrusters at 65 lbs and ring rows. If you do that as fast as you can and it leaves you gasping for air after 4 minutes, you got the right stimulus for the day and that is better than doing 1 pull up every 30 seconds for 15 minutes. You see, your body does not know how much weight is in on the bar or if you’re pulling your entire body weight up or not. It only know the stimulus it gets from performing that weight or movement. So scale your workouts and give your body the correct stimulus for the day. Our program is meticulously designed to offer you a different stimulus each day, but if you do not scale properly you are going to miss the intent of the workout and get the wrong stimulus.


So don’t be embarrassed to scale. Everyone has to start somewhere and nobody is going to judge you for getting your best workout. Toss that ego aside when you step in the doors and realize that you’re better off for it! Happy Scaling!


P.S. If you don’t know how to scale something, simply ask the coach. We are here to help!