To scale or not to scale, that is the question. I’m sure if you are like me, that question runs through your mind when you see the prescribed WOD.
“Can I do this and sustain it for the whole workout?” is the question that always runs through my mind before a workout.
For a long time, I have had this mindset that if I scaled a workout then I was weak or that I would be seen as cheating my way through the workout. I would look see other athletes doing the prescribed workout with the prescribed weight and would feel bad about how I had to scale the workout to do what I could do. Don’t do what I did, because scaling is not a negative thing. In fact, it is built into CrossFit for a reason. We are all at different levels in our fitness and that is okay. It is nothing to be ashamed of. You are still getting a great workout in if you scale. You are allowing your body to progress towards a certain movement in a way that you can get through a workout and do so safely.
For me, I have had knee injuries for years. Box jumps begin to hurt after a while and so I choose to do box step-ups to safely get through the workout and not reinjure my knees. For some, maybe you can’t do pull-ups yet. (Let’s be honest those are hard!) So, scale back and do jumping pull-ups. You will still be getting that pull motion and working those muscles. For others, maybe you can’t lift a certain weight! Scale back to a weight you can lift! Be safe and don’t lift weight you can’t lift safely! That will only cause injury if you try to lift something your body isn’t ready for yet!
Let me be the first to tell you no one is going to judge you or think any less of you if you scale a movement. Even the most experienced CrossFitters have to scale from time to time!
With all that being said, don’t scale just because a workout looks tough. If you know you can do the movements or lift the prescribed weight then do it! MIND OVER MATTER! Don’t use scaling as a way to cheat yourself out of pushing yourself and accomplishing something great! You will never regret getting through a tough workout but you will regret knowing you could have done more.
So to scale or not to scale? Use scaling as a way to progress your body towards a movement or a weight safely! We all are progressing and we all have the areas we need to work on and that is okay! Eventually you will be able to do those pull-ups or lift that prescribed weight! Continue to progress and work hard. Don’t cheat yourself when it gets tough! Swallow your pride, scale when needed and know: “some quit due to slow progress. Never grasping the fact slow progress…is progress.” (author unknown)
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March is the founder of the Barbell Beauties. Her goal is simple… Empower every woman to grab a barbell and LIFT. She’s been an active CrossFitter for 7 years and credits that sport for turning her into a true athlete.