This week we’re looking at those two little letters to the right of your score that people live and die for…
We’ll be talking about ego, intended stimulus, intensity and virtuosity. I’ll talk about the values we have forged and fostered through the life of Boar City and how chasing RX can be toxic to your training.
What is RX and why the hell is it there?!
RX and Scaled have always been a part and parcel with how we run the box programming and the class structure. The workouts are programmed to challenge the fittest members of the gym with the knowledge that the majority of us may need to scale or adapt the workout to suit our own current level.
RX means “as prescribed”, so if you complete the workout as it’s written on the board you completed it RX.
There are three main reasons we set a weight or movement for the workout.
It can encourage people to try a heavier weight or more a complex movement that they are capable of but may not try under their own steam. Another reason is that if/when we repeat that workout or one very similar, we can look back and plan how we will attack the next workout. The final reason is hidden in the dark arts of what we call GPP or Gen Pop programming. GPP or General Physical Preparedness is the idea that we don’t want to be a specialist in anything, we would rather be competent in everything. If an impromptu WOD kicks off in Morrisons we want to confident we can give it a good shot right? A tenuous example maybe but the idea is to be ready for any task or activity. Gen Pop or General Population is when the class is programmed to be inclusive for everyone, and not just complex and too hard just for the sake of it. Anyway, I digress, I don’t want to get down the programming/Instagram coach rabbit hole. One for another day maybe?
What it isn’t there for is bragging rights or a badge of honour. We’ve ALL gone for RX or pushed the weight up when we know we shouldn’t. You’ll hear CrossFit gyms bang on about leaving your ego at the door. It’s really damn hard to do! Whether you’re ultra-competitive, coming back from an injury or you perceive there’s some sort of social stigma about scaling WODs; you can convince yourself going RX is the right way to go or will impress someone. I can guarantee you’ll earn more respect from the coach, your peers and for yourself if you scale your workout and hit that intensity sweet spot.
Intensity and Virtuosity
Whenever we decide how we’re going to tackle a workout or what weight/movement we’re doing we should think about these two things. Intensity is the name of the game in most workouts. When Greg Glassman create the CrossFit training methodology, he endeavoured to define fitness. Amongst his ideas were that fitness is, “Increased Work Capacity across broad times and modal domains.” In simple terms that means we want to be able to do some stuff in varied time frames and different environments. That brings us onto the more familiar phrase, “Constantly varied, functional movements performed at high intensity.” So the goal is high intensity, if the workout requires 10 cleans @80 and your best ever clean is 82.5 you won’t be able to move with much intensity right? So scale it down, and do so without an ego. This leads us on to virtuosity. This can be tricky on the ego as well. A great example is gymnastics. Let us imagine a workout has 10 chest to bar pull ups in. You can do 10 pull ups with solid form. You can do 1 chest to bar at a time and its messy and you land badly each time. If you chest to bar you’ll get half the rounds and risk hurting our shoulder and not improve with your gymnastics at all…….but you’ll get an RX next to your name and impress all your pals yeah? We all know what the right choice is, and which option will make your fitter and healthier. There’s a time and a place to push the limits and a difference between competition and training.
Each workout is designed with an intended stimulus in mind. We may want to test our heavy lifting under fatigue or move light loads smoothly over a long timeframe. If you’re not sure what to pick, ask a coach, they will be able to let you know what the indented stimulus is and which set up will help you achieve that.
At the end of the day we don’t want you think you’ll be scaling all your live and never push for heavier weights and more complex movements. That’s not the case, stress breads growth. That being said we should always look for the option that will lay the best foundations and help you get what you want out of the workout you’re doing that day.
I have a little challenge for you. Next time you’re in the box, intentionally scale the workout. You’ll be able move well on every rep and won’t waste half of your workout staring at the barbell and grinding out curly deadlifts.
All in all, listen to your body and try your hardest to do what you think is best not what you think will look sexy on the leaderboard or SugarWOD.