It is important to remember that the prescribed loads and rep schemes in a workout are arbitrary. What I mean is this: the workouts on CrossFit.com are designed to elicit a specific effect, and the loads and reps are chosen to elicit that effect in high level CrossFit athletes. Without scaling, many people will not achieve the desired effect of the workout.
For an example, let's look at "Diane"
21-15-9 reps for time:
The above video showcases one of the fastest times seen on "Diane." It also displays the desired effect: an athlete should be able to move through "Diane" at a fast pace for a potent metabolic hit. The deadlifts are not meant to be heavy, and the handstand pushups should not break down to the point of seriously reducing the metabolic impact of the workout.
How about "Angie"
If you've got a pullup max of 3, 100 is going to take a long time. Too long. In fact, it will result in diminished returns. The desired effect of "Angie" is (for most athletes) in large part muscular endurance, and in smaller part metabolic conditioning. Both goals can be achieved for any athlete by properly scaling the reps and/or movements.
How do I know when I need to scale my workouts?
Simple: When doing the workout as prescribed will result in a failure to achieve the desired effect, scale it! If your max deadlift is 275# and you can't do more than 3 handstand pushups in a set, doing "Diane" as prescribed will not elicit the desired effect. If you've got 3 pullups, 10 pushups, and can't do more than 20 squats without stopping, the reps in "Angie" need to be brought down. Proper scaling will result in higher power output, and as we know, intensity is paramount.
Next post will give a few examples of scaling workouts to certain deficiencies.
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