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CrossFit “as Rx” vs. Personal Progress

CrossFit evolved out of Greg Glassman’s personal training business.  As part of that evolution CrossFit moved away from individually-programmed weights and movements and towards generic “prescriptions” or “Rx”.  This simplifies the task of programming workouts and allows athletes to make apples-to-apples comparisons.  Unfortunately, it comes at the cost of presenting workouts that may not be best for particular individuals.  The general solution to this problem is to “scale” the prescribed version of a workout to an individual’s level.  Scaling allows a coach to re-personalize the workout.

Related: What Do You DO at a CrossFit Box?

Basic goals for any workout include intensity, volume of work performed, and density (how quickly the work is performed).  At CrossFit Slipstream,  programming a workout starts with one of these as a goal.  Our “scaling” of workouts is informed by this goal so whatever variation of the workout you do achieves the desired goal.  For example, when metabolic intensity is the goal scaling should focus on keeping you moving at a high workload.  You should not have to stop and stare at the bar before another attempt as this causes metabolic intensity to drop.  If the goal is volume, however, you should scale the movement or rest as needed to allow you to complete all repetitions prescribed.

In accord with this philosophy, CrossFit Slipstream normally dispenses with “Rx” weights and instead “prescribes” a percentage of 1 repetition maximum (“1 RM”) for that exercise.  This immediately personalizes the workload to your abilities.  It is not so simple when dealing with bodyweight movements or other aspects of training.  These will typically be programmed “as Rx” and then adjusted individually at the gym.  Obviously you will not know your 1 RM when just starting out or for every exercise, and many other exercises will not be advisable for you at this point in your fitness journey.  You may also have a competitive event coming up, and need to be sure your CrossFit WOD supports, rather than interferes with, your goal.  We work with you individually to customize the workout. We are always ready with modifications, adjustments, or even changes to the WOD so that the workout you do meets your needs.

Related: Why Technique is the Foundation of a Training Philosophy

For example, a WOD may specify deadlifts at 85% of 1RM and chest-to-bar pull-ups.  You may not know your 1 RM so we will help you decide what weight or variation to use based on where you are and the goal of the workout.  Possibly you should do them with kettlebells instead of a barbell.  If you are not yet able to do chest-to-bar pull-ups for reps those can be scaled to regular pull-ups, body rows, or ring rows, or several other ways. This is how we keep the focus on you, your needs, and your goals.

-John Bryant

Founder & Head Trainer