By Cesar Melgar L1 Coach, CrossFit East Bay
We have addressed what, when and how to scale. Finally we answer the why. Workouts that combine high power, intensity, and speed makes anyone feel a little intimidated. It’s called “fight or flight”. And we want to make sure it is FIGHT! Proper scaling will prepare us to fight, rather than flee. Here are three main reasons why we should scale some workouts.
As you may know CrossFit combines three major categories of movements: cardio, weightlifting, and gymnastics. The goal of CrossFit is to expose you to all of these categories so that you may become competent in all of them. Mixed modal workouts (cardio+weightlifting+gymnastics) may be totally new to you.I played soccer for years but never did much weightlifting and gymnastics even though I was strong and flexible. It was not until I started CrossFit that I was introduced to a barbell and to doing pullups, and it was a big challenge to learn them. But before I could tackle some of these movements I had to scale some workouts that included them because I did not have the necessary competency and experience to do them. This may be the same boat that you are in right now, and that is a good place to be because at least you know what you need to improve on.For that matter, the number one reason that we scale a workout is because you have not been exposed to many of its components and because we need to make sure that you can get a good workout without feeling frustrated that you cannot do all these movements. If, on the other hand, we do not scale the workout and expect you to do what all the experienced athletes are doing, then: a) you would not be able to do the movements; b) you would become frustrated; and c) you won’t get the right stimulus. For this reason, scaling constitutes your way to improve in CrossFit in a planned manner. We can help.
This is part of any sport. Whether you play a violent sport like football or a non aggressive sport like golf, injuries happen and that is just part of sports and for that matter of life.There are athletes who come to CrossFit with some type of condition that has bothered them before. So whether the athlete is dealing with a back, hip, knee, or shoulder injury, we scale a workout so that the athlete can continue to move forward without feeling that her/his life is ruled by this injury. Also, our mantra at CrossFit is “safety, efficiency, and efficacy.” We want our athletes to feel confident that the movements we asked them to do are not going to aggravate an injury. Plus, we want to see our athlete do a workout that she/he can do efficiently and provide the highest rate of return; in other words, we do not want that a workout that is supposed to take 5-10 minutes under normal conditions to take 15-20 minutes because we have an injury that has gone undetected or an injury that the athlete is trying to compensate. Scaling therefore prevents further injuries and in some case it becomes part of the recovery process from prior injuries.
Quality of Life
Last but not least is this idea of quality of life. Most of us join CrossFit because we wanted something different for our fitness lives. We wanted to find a better outlet for us to get healthy in a fun and creative way. Scaling is therefore done to preserve that quality of life that we are after. For new CrossFit athletes we want to scale the workouts so that the athlete can feel good and continue in this journey to better health. We are not here to make anyone feel inadequate or less than just because she/he has to scale a workout. Instead, we scale the workout precisely because we embrace that athlete and her/his own journey, with the hope that in every step of the way this person can feel safe to come to the coach to share her/his own fitness needs and how to accommodate the workout for that particular day. ALL of your coaches scale from time to time.
In essence, we scale workouts because experience needs to be built in order to accomplish certain tasks, because we are dealing or we want to prevent further injuries, and because we want that our athletes have a good quality of life where CrossFit contributes to and does not hinder the progress towards the goal of health.