One of the very first things we explain to new members or potential members is that we SCALE workouts.  This is to say that we modify workouts so they are doable for whoever would like to do them.  You are new to working out?  No problem.  We have a version of the workout that will help you adapt and acclimate.  You have an injury?  No problem.  We can work around it.  You’re in a wheelchair?  No problem.  We have trained two individuals that need wheelchairs.  You’re in good condition, but have never crossfitted? No problem.  We have you covered!  You have a bad attitude?  No pr….


You have a what???  Oh my!  Bad Attitudes are a tough disability to overcome.  In fact, a bad attitude is the only disability we cannot modify a workout for.  A bad attitude is usually accompanied by an enormous ego.

For the benefit of the newer people who may not have comprehended my message or who have a Bad Attitude toward SCALING, allow me to explain further.

Workouts are posted on the website and written on the whiteboard as “prescribed” or “RX’d”.  The “as prescribed” workout is written for the experienced or strongest/most conditioned athlete.  SCALING is done for athletes of all levels according to what they are capable of handling.  SCALING is not a “negative” thing.  It isn’t “bad”.  It does not mean you are weak or inferior.  SCALING is absolutely necessary. Everybody scales at some point.  Everybody scales in the beginning of their training.  By “beginning” I mean between one month and 1 year depending on the person.  SCALING is simply reducing the amount of reps/sets or weight or modifying a movement or range of motion in order to “inoculate” you with exercise at a rate that will force your body and central nervous system to make adaptations.  These adaptations lead to getting stronger, getting fitter and making you mentally tougher.  Scaling has to be done in a way that allows you to get used to the workout without the workout leaving you injured or unable to move for 5 days.

Somebody in the gym recently did a workout as prescribed for the first time then stated, “I finally met the minimum requirement of a workout.”  I waited for them to laugh or indicate that they were joking.  They weren’t.  It wasn’t an ego issue at all.  This was caused by me not be clear enough about what scaling means.

Me: WHAT????

Them:  Yeah…I met the minimum requirement today…I get an RX’d next to my name.

Me:  As prescribed isn’t the minimum requirement.  It’s for the top level athletes in the gym.  Everyone else does the same workout, but it’s modified so they can do it safely and in a way that they will benefit from it.  If you are able to do the entire workout as prescribed then it means you are experienced enough and conditioned enough AND strong enough to do the elements of this particular workout.  It doesn’t mean that you will be able to do it everyday, but that is what we are working toward.

Them:  Ohhhhhh!

As for a Bad Attitude/Enormous Ego all I can say is be prepared to not train or get hurt.  Those are your two SELF-IMPOSED options.  You won’t train because if you can’t do an exercise or workout as prescribed you’d rather not lower yourself to that icky scaled level.  You’ll check the website and cherry pick a workout that you believe you can do.  Adaptation will come slowly if it comes at all and you’ll never feel right.  Remember this, the only thing that can make our good programming not work is your better plan.

The option of scaling allows you to learn new skills in a way that will develop your technique while you get used to the intensity level of the workout.  There should never be a negative connotation attached to it unless you have been training for years and have not seen an improved performance.  (We have never observed this, by the way.)

Scale when it is necessary.  Push yourself, but be intelligent about it.  If a coach recommends a modification for you don’t take it as a slight.  Just do it.  Don’t stay out of the gym because it’s necessary for you to scale.  Ask a coach how to scale a workout and it will be done.

What questions do you have?—George


Workout of the Day
7 minute EMOM:
3 Hang Power Snatch
(start with 50% 1 Rep Max and add weight each minute)
10 minute AMRAP:
10 Overhead Squat  45/25# plate
10 Deadlift 225/155#
5 Muscle Ups

(Note: Substitute muscle-ups with ring dips)

Post your scores to the Whiteboard.

6 Responses

  1. Al

    Thanks George. I personally could use some tough love every once in a while. I never cherry pick workouts but sometimes I don’t scale when I clearly should. 40 years old and my ego still gets the best of me.

  2. George

    The people who can acknowledge the issue aren’t usually the problem. The BIG EGO problem-people don’t think there is an issue. Wait….you’re 40????? You look like you’re 30.

  3. Richie G.

    I actually read this whole article that you have written Coach. Ha! Very well written. My experience has been since I started working out in the gym. You’re pretty much 100% right to what I should be doing as far as scaling the workouts to my ability. The instances when I have not listened to you, I have either gotten hurt or could not finish the workouts. You also know, it’s very motivating to me when you yell at me and make me feel bad about myself. HA!!

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