The struggle is real when it comes to the daily battle of “to Rx or not to Rx” when it comes to our CrossFit workouts. I’ve experienced both ends of the spectrum as a Coach and as an Athlete. Although the message coaches and athletes will hopefully learn today, the two are not opposing.
As a Coach, it’s a constant battle to convince athletes they really need to be scaling. And if every Coach (who is also an athlete) will be honest, they’ve struggled with it too. Perhaps they still do and think their title of Coach is a get-out-of-scaling-ever free card.
Well it’s not.
Let’s breakdown why Rx and scaling even exists. Data. Measurable, repeatable data.
How do we know we are getting better? Data. How do we know the intensity and power output a human being is capable of? Data. Why do we use whiteboards? Data. And timers? Data.
Data has (ok SHOULD have) very little to do with motivation. Data is: factual information (such as measurements or statistics) used as a basis for reasoning, discussion, or calculation. As defined by Merriam-Webster.
If Rx is for the purpose of data…
Rx should be replaced with the word understanding.
Rx has an intention of what we are trying to accomplish in a workout. And what is that? Well that depends on your programming, right? Therefore, blindly following the coolest program without a coach or UNDERSTANDING is dangerous. More people care about the Rx by their name than the intention of the program. If the point of “AMRAP Strict Handstand Push Ups in 30 seconds” is to train Stamina vs Hypertrophy (think bodybuilding), then we need to see 12 or more reps, not 6-9 reps. We need to have UNDERSTANDING of what the intention of that workout is so the pursuit can match it.
Why this train of thought doesn’t always get applied: Individualized Affiliate Programming. When I program for our box, I have the power to demoralize every athlete if I choose to. I can make weights so fucking heavy athletes wouldn’t even attempt it because they feared for their lives (this would have to be an insane loading at our box because I am convinced most CrossFit Athletes have Urbach-Wiethe disease.) Look it up, it’s hyperlinked for you. On the other end of the spectrum, participation trophies are prevalent in our culture and sometimes Coaches program so that everyone gets an Rx by their name so they can feel special and accomplished when logging their scores.
It doesn’t matter. Honestly. Be a dick or be a helicopter parent. If “Rx” means “Understanding” then no one can go wrong in their box.
(This is why I LOVE the CrossFit Mainsite. They now coach you through the intention and scaling options of the daily workout. There are a lot of good programmers out there but by and large they’re not dissecting for you the nature of what the desired output of the workout is.)
Programming does not equal Coaching. The best athletes in the world have coaches. If you want to get better as an athlete get yourself a fucking coach who UNDERSTANDS the meaning of Rx for whatever programming you’re implementing at your box. Affiliate owners, don’t blindly follow someone else’s programming if you can’t interpret the DATA for your athletes. If you’re new to it, see the above paragraph. #rantover
Athletes: Unless you attend a CrossFit Kids class, and that would be weird if you did and were reading this, you have a level of accountability for how you go about your workout. If nothing else, where else would you go spend $150-$200 a month to have a trained professional give you their expert opinion and you say “NAAAAAA. I’m gonna do it my way with my limited knowledge and see if my way works out better than yours.” (That’s like hiring a financial advisor and then telling them you’re just gonna play the lottery with your retirement money.)
Every CrossFitter has experienced this on some level. If not, you either haven’t graduated from your “Foundations” class yet or your name is Greg Glassman. I don’t think anyone argues with him.
So then how do we fix the Rx complex? With understanding and virtuosity.
We should stop caring solely about getting from A to B in our workouts and focus on what getting from A to B looks like. What is the intention and what mechanics do we need to have mastered?
If anyone doesn’t think the mechanics of movement comes before intensity, I have a personal story about breaking myself coupled with 18 months of rehab that made me look like a depressed Jane Fonda hiding in the corner of my gym while everyone else got stronger and relearned basic motor skills; but we can discuss that at another time. It’s a lot to breakdown in one blog but if you walk away remembering Rx = Understanding of intention and mechanics of the movement, then your workouts will have personal meaning and allow for personal growth as an athlete.
AND THAT, is all I want for my athletes to understand and my coaches to expect and explain.