But I Scaled…

It is something coaches hear way too often from members who feel like they didn’t accomplish anything with their workout just because they didn’t go RX. One of the biggest things that we are taught with fitness is that the goal is to increase power output and work capacity. Sometimes, this means going scaled. In reality, this means doing scaled really often.

I think there are a couple of things that are making this happen more and more, as the sport gets more popular – people are comparing themselves to other athletes and the thought process of ‘More is more’. It is great to have goals and to have a role model to look up to, but people get misguided and think that they should be doing the things just because they see these role models doing. If you have not trained up to it, you’re either going to get hurt, burned out, or severely disappointed when you cannot do it (and potentially set yourself up to fall off completely).

I want to take a step back and look at the workouts and the potential for power output. There are slight changes that can make a huge difference. When doing this obviously you have to think of the time domain and energy system you want to be working, aka the result you want to get out of the workout. Power output can be a complicated thing to figure out. So, I will try to simplify it as much as possible.

Work = Force x Distance

Example: 6 ft male deadlifts 315 lbs

315 x 3 ft (roughly distance from ground to hips) = 315 x 3 = 945 ft/lbs of work.

Power = (force x distance)/time (aka work/time)

An easy workout to use an example is Isabel, 30 snatches for time at 135 for guys and 95 for girls. We can figure out how much power is being generated by how long the workout takes.

WORK= 135 x 7ft (est barbell to overhead is 7ft) = 945 ft/lbs (x 30 reps) = 28,350 ft/lbs

Power = 28350 ft/lbs/time

If the workout takes 1:30, the average power output is 315 ft/lbs per second.

If the workout takes 3:00, the average power output is 157.5 ft/lbs per second.

If the workout takes 5:00, the average power output is 94.5 ft/lbs per second.

Power = Intensity = Results

Now, let’s take a look at scaling .

If someone does this workout RX and it takes them 10 min, this would mean their average power output was 47.25 ft/lbs per second.

The stimulus from a power output of 315 ft/lbs per second and 47.25 ft/lbs per second will have a very different effect on the body and how it adapts.

Let’s say this individual comes back and redoes the workout with 95 lbs.

WORK= 95x7ft = 665

665 ft/lbs(x 30 reps) = 19,950 ft/lbs

Power = 19950 ft/lbs /time

If their time goes from 10 min to 5 min with lighter weight, their average power output goes from 47.25 per second to 66.5 (which is a great improvement). This will provide greater gains in both strength and endurance. Let’s say they get a 3 minute time, their average power output per second would be 110.8 per second. Again, that is a vast improvement over 47.25.

Heavier is not always better.

On the other side of that, most gyms program a strength portion before the metcon and that is where moving more weight should be the focus. There are even times that WODs are meant to be heavier to slow people down, it is important to know when and how to attack those. If you are at a good gym, the coaches will have you scale accordingly.

For us here at JonesN4, I think that is where we set ourselves apart. We take the time necessary to get to know how our athletes perform before we have them push it. We also know what the goal for each workout is or what stimulus we are going for. The more you know your athletes, the easier it is to prescribe the correct weight or movements for them, obviously.

I’m a firm believer that 1-on-1 attention and personal training is the only way to make sure people are doing the movements correctly or have a good basic idea of what they need to be doing. Group on-ramps only seem to perpetuate the comparison of yourself to other athletes, and the thinking process of if they are doing it then I need to be also. It is almost impossible to effectively teach the complicated movements that are involved with CrossFit in a group setting. I’m not talking about a group of athletes or coaches honing their skills for the snatch, muscle up, or clean and jerk. I’m talking about the average Joe walking in off the street that has never heard or seen any of those movements.

Now, put 10-15 of them in a class and teach them the snatch… How’s that going? Not well.

How much did they learn? Not enough.

How much did their movement improve? Again, not enough to do these movements in a workout.

So, why is it that gyms are so anxious to push people into group classes without teaching them any of this stuff? And we wonder why CrossFit gets a bad reputation. If you go to a CrossFit gym and they do not perform an in-depth assessment on you to see how you move and what you are capable of, I would find another gym. They do not have your best interest at heart and most likely don’t know what they are doing. I could ramble on forever but I’ll end it with this.

Know your athletes. Know yourself. Know the goals of the workouts and we will all be better off.

Scaling appropriately = More intensity = Better fitness


Shelby Jones

JonesN4 CrossFit

Educate – Empower – Achieve




CF-Olympic Lifting






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