RX or Nah?

When choosing to scale a workout or complete it as prescribed, what do you base your decision on? Do you copy your workout buddy? Do you ask your coach for advice? Do you go for it and see what happens? When attempting to RX a workout, these questions always come up wether they are voiced or not. However, they should never be the deciding factor.

“Going RX,” is a proud term used in the CrossFit community. Completing the workout in this way means to complete every movement and meet every standard as it is written on the board. “He went RX, good for him!” or “Wow, RX, what a badass!” are comments whispered by athletes who have yet to complete an RX WOD. They want to, and may even be riding the line between scaled and RX in terms of their capabilities and strength. But when is the best time to make that transition?

Like most things in CrossFit, the answer is simple: when it’s safe and makes sense. If you’ve been doing CrossFit for two months, you are in no position to be attempting RX WODs. Even if you are the strongest athlete in the gym and have been an athlete your entire life, this is a new workout structure and you do not yet have the skills necessary to complete movements under heavy loads, for multiple reps, safely. Chances are, you could get through the workout. However, the risk of injury is incredibly high and attempting a workout you aren’t ready for doesn’t make any sense. If anything, you’ll have those on the sidelines shaking their heads and whispering, “He went RX, how stupid.”

The building blocks of CrossFit follow a step by step procedure - learn the basics first, then tackle the fancy stuff. You can think of it like a pyramid. At the bottom, you have the basics which involve learning how to move safely and efficiently. As you move up, movements become more and more complicated. At the very top, you have the most difficult and complicated movements, a short list that requires efficiency and a unique blend of skills, mobility, and strength. Jumping from the basics right to the top doesn’t work, just like attempting a ring muscle up on your first day of CrossFit doesn’t work. You must first learn how to pull, how to control the movement of your shoulders and your body’s momentum, and so much more in order to perform that movement safely. There are steps to be followed, and completing them out of order will likely provoke injury and disappointment.

Everyone likes to say they completed a workout RX. It’s fun to test yourself and compete with your friends, and it’s always a good idea to ask your coach for advice. But a good coach will take your current abilities into consideration and tell you to do the same. If you’re not ready, you’re not ready, and no amount of enthusiasm will get you there. Banging your head against a wall you’re not ready to knock down is much more frustrating than backing up to the basics. So do yourself a favor and wait until it makes sense. Don’t risk your safety trying to impress anyone.