Scaling & targeted progress

30 Apr

I can’t quite believe it is already time to blog again, but it is, so here goes!

I am confident I am not the only one who has decided to get fit, found a programme to follow, and then been humbled and overwhelmed by the sheer standard required to complete the workouts. My initial opinion of CrossFit was that many of the movements, let alone WODs, were out of my reach. Olympic lifts, gymnastic movements and holds and simply incredible weights being lifted; many times. It would have been easier to find another way of training at this point, one where success was more easily obtainable. However, with a little further digging, I learnt about the principles of scaling and progression. After all, if you could already do everything, what would be the point?

I have found two main reasons to scale: Inability to complete a movement, move a prescribed weight or complete the prescribed amount of repetitions, or a piece of equipment not being available.

When you are not yet at the required standard to complete a WOD, there are several methods I have employed to still benefit from said WOD:

1. Substitute a movement for one you can do e.g. Replace pull-ups with jumping pull-ups.

2. Reduce the weight being lifted e.g. If 95kg is prescribed for 10 repetitions of clean & jerk, yet your 1RM (1 Rep Max) is 80kg, scale to 60kg. Avoid scaling once you have started if possible.

3. Reduce the number of repetitions e.g. If the workout is ‘Angie’ 100 pull-ups, 100 push-ups, 100 sit-ups, 100 squats, consider scaling to 75, 50, or 25 reps to suit your ability.

4. If the workout is an AMRAP (As Many Rounds/Reps As Possible) consider reducing the time.

5. If a lack of equipment, think of a similar movement e.g. Swap rope climbs for pull-ups on a towel.

Think carefully about scaling, do not use it as an excuse to take it easy, but balance this against not attempting something you cannot complete. Failing to complete your WOD will not make you happy! Through all of this, keep in mind your competition is you, not the power lifter of 10 years next to you or the runner overtaking you on the home stretch. Firstly they are specialising, whereas you are specialising in not specialising, and secondly you will improve, more quickly than you think!

Very similar rules apply to progress; be honest about your weaknesses, set a plan and realistic goals and never be embarrassed to try something outside your comfort zone, and even fail. How many people do you think succeed on their first muscle up, pull-up, double under or handstand push-up? I failed my first (and many more) of all of these, in public! If anything, this motivated me more. I set plans, carried them out and celebrated every little victory. I now have the same guys who once watched me fall over my skipping rope or crumble out of a handstand, and laughed, now ask me how I do these movements. My answer is simple: “by not worrying about how much you laugh at me!”

I have already told you I keep a list of, and routinely practice, my weaknesses. I also have a list of PRs. It’s lengthy as there are such a wide range of movements and distances involved, but I guarantee the rate at which you cross weaknesses of your list, and update PRs will astound you! Don’t be scared of failure, but motivated by the prospect of success, it will work!

Having talked about weaknesses, I’ll now describe today and how I attacked a few, including how I scaled a WOD.

First thing I took my vitamins and ate bacon, eggs and gluten free sausages and as yesterday, added D-Aspartic acid. I had a busy morning at work and topped up with a couple of black coffees. Come lunch break, I took a friend seeking to improve his fitness for a run. This comprised:

Total distance 4.4km

1km steady state
5x 100m hill sprint (100m recovery after each)
3x 300m hill sprint (100m recovery after each)
1.2km pyramid from 50% effort, work up to 90%, then back down to 50%

10-15 minutes stretching.

I used my usual pre workout combination of supplements from PPS Nutrition and refuelled after with Nxtgen 5 in 1 and a prawn salad.

After a busy afternoon, I again prefuelled with PPS products, including SF Xtreme and set off to try the WOD I’d been visualising all afternoon. Before this though I practised double unders. Still on my list of weaknesses, but watch this space! After mobilising, it was WOD time:

King Kong

1 dead lift 455lb
2 muscle ups
3 squat cleans 250lb

The reason I wanted to do this WOD, is I have only recently become able to do Muscle Ups and HSPU and was excited to incorporate them into a WOD for the first time.

I did, however, need to scale the weights for this WOD. For dead lift I used 160kg/352lb and 75kg/165lb for squat cleans.

Despite being happy with completing this WOD for the first time, having struggled with dead lift some weight under my 1RM, I have put it back on my list of weaknesses. I don’t consider this a failure, or even regression, with all the progress I have made recently, this is a small price to pay!

After my WOD, I decided to attempt something I have been visualising but never managed, here is the result…


I also practised some other gymnastic holds before feeding. The standard Nxtgen 5 in 1 was followed by turkey stirfry. A lovely way to end my day, before sharing it with you guys! As for now, time for a bath and some stretching to help me prepare for an athletics competition tomorrow. 1500m and 4x400m relay. I am nervous but excited at the same time, having not competed on the track in 12 years! Results along with maintaining focus tomorrow.


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