RX or Scaled?


The Open is drawing to a close this week... This means that this is the last week, us mere mortals, must ask ourselves… RX or Scaled? 

Whether you just started CrossFit or you’ve done it for years, your fitness level might not be to the point of RX’ing everything. Maybe you can do most movements but those pesky ring muscle ups haven’t come. Maybe those Double Unders are still hit or miss or you haven”t found the right jump rope yet.  Maybe the RX weight is still just around your PR weight. Either way, you are in that limbo of: should I RX or Scale this workout?

I’ll be the first to admit that things happen during The Open that don’t happen all year long. There’s something about the adrenaline rush of all your friends cheering for you or the rush we get from the pressure of competition. Either way, that tension helps us to achieve more than we though could be possible, and it happens often in The Open. 

I’ve been doing CrossFit for almost four years now. I still struggle with gymnastic movements. Half of the reason is weight and the other half is strength. One day, body weight movements won’t be an issue for me, but today I still am limited. When I started CrossFit, I learned one the core principles: leave your ego at the door! I think this is one of the principles that sets CrossFit apart from other things. Ego doesn’t have a place here.

The difference between leaving your Ego at the door and competing in the Open is that Competition requires ego. Competition requires us to think that we will win, we should win, and that we must win! 

All that intro to bring us to the topic of today’s blog: To Scale or Not to Scale… that is the question! (My hope is that we will be able to get some feed back on this topic, so feel free to comment below after you finish reading.) 

Every year, in The Open, the tensions get tight with those of us who are mere mortal on wether or not to scale. This year is no different. This year, in 18.3 we had ring muscle ups and bar muscle ups in the RX workout. Talk about a game changer! This means that you had people get 100 double under, 20 over head squats, 100 double under, and then attempt ring muscle ups. What I noticed was that the majority of RX scores where 220. Why? Because people can’t do Ring Muscle Ups! 

It’s one thing for the persons who are really close to getting a Ring Muscle Up, but it’s a completely other thing for people who aren’t even close to being able to turn over at the top to try, with their remaining time, to pray to the gods of CrossFit for one stroke of luck to get their first Ring Muscle Up. This is the place where pride and ego collide with potential disastrous consequences. On the practical side, this is where injuries come from: us trying to do things that we have neither trained for, nor practiced. The other side is that tension within ourselves that tells us that it’s beneath us to do a scaled workout… which we wouldn’t potentially finish either. If you can do the scaled and smoke it… I mean really smoke it, then absolutely try RX.  No questions asked. However, I’m willing to bet that most who are in this category won’t smoke the scaled version either. 

In the middle of the pride and ego doing battle within us, we also are reminded that this IS a competition. The difference is that this competition isn’t a real test of you as an athlete unless you can actually do the workouts. Just because you do all the workouts RX, yet are unable to complete any, doesn’t make you competitive, it makes you stubborn and prideful. It’s like showing up to a sword fight with nunchucks. Sure, you will be able to move around and use what you have, but if you don’t have a sword nor know how to use it, then you’re out matched, out of luck, and dead. It’s not a competition, it’s a shit show. 

Maybe we forget that, for the most part, we aren’t going to regionals or the games. (Those few of you that might, won’t be phased by that last comment.)  We have to remember that competition is fun and should be competitive. Anything less is a shit show… so have fun with it! Leave the pride at the door and work your hardest at what you can do and what you can potentially finish. Working hard for a few minutes only to stop and pray to the gods of CrossFit isn’t competition, it’s only a few minute workout that was supposed to be 18 minutes. 

Let me end with a reminder. This is written about the mortals, not the CrossFit Athletes who actually compete and do those movements and weights that others dream of… this is about those of us who still dream to be you when we grow up. 

I think the question goes deeper than just scaled or RX… It might be more about how we view ourselves or how we need others to view us. 

What are your thoughts? Ask yourself deeply why you Scale or go RX? Is it, deep down, about pride and ego or even your own need to be placed above others? After all, CrossFit has always been about more than just exercise. All of us are trying to beat back the demons in our lives.