When I Say “Scaled,” I Don’t Mean Easy

“Hey man, you did great today!”  “Yeah, but I scaled.”

This one is for the CrossFitters out there:  it’s easy to downplay what you did by saying those awful words, “yeah, but I scaled.”  And frankly, the word “scaling” has garnered a bit of a negative connotation to it.  I want to take a couple of minutes to dive into why the “Rx or not at all” mentality is such a terrible idea.


In my experience, here is what you mean when you say, “yeah, but I scaled.”

  • “I did an easier workout”
  • “It wasn’t as hard as what you just did”
  • “I’m not nearly as fit as you are so there’s no need to celebrate it”

You are trying to downplay things for yourself, I get it.  Sometimes it’s hard to brag about the things you accomplish.  But you’re also convincing yourself, “what someone else did is amazing compared to what I just did.”

Don’t do that.

I’ll say it again.

Stop saying, “yeah, but I scaled.”

Here’s why.

What Scaling Actually Does

When it comes to changing the frame with which you see scaling your workout, it’s vital to see why you should do it in the first place…

Better Habit-Building Mindset

If you hit the time cap with a lot left in the workout, that’s a real hit to the ego which leaves you wondering, “am I actually improving?”  Take this and repeat it several times a week and it makes for a poor framework for what would otherwise be a positive habit-building experience.

Stimulus of the Workout

You’ll hear a lot of coaches and trainers throw this around but what does it actually mean?  For me, it means if the workout is supposed to be heavy, make it heavy; if it’s supposed to be fast, make it fast; if it’s supposed to be a grind, make it a grind.

If you turn a sprint workout into a grind, you did it wrong and while you are probably improving your fitness in some capacity, it’s not at the rate you probably want… which brings me to:

Better Results

You should reach just a little bit beyond your capabilities and not well beyond your capabilities.  The point is to reach a little beyond, grow and change, and repeat this cycle until you have made some amazing progress!

Reaching well beyond your capabilities is a recipe for frustration, lackluster results, and injury.

Injury Prevention

Scaling keeps you from overextending yourself in a situation where fatigue is a big factor.  We do sometimes perform higher skilled movements so it’s important to be able to control the pacing, and scaling, of your workout.  The gym is supposed to be a controlled environment, for the record.

It’s also a chance for you to reinforce good movement while you’re fatigued.  Practice and performance are intertwined, after all.

If You Are Injured

If, for whatever reason, you do happen to be injured, scaling allows you to continue to do something for your workout.

Hurt your knee?!  You’ve still got 3 other limbs!

If Not Rx or Scaled…

Intensity is what matters.  Intensity scares people because intensity is uncomfortable.  Unless intensity is not the goal, of course.

…really uncomfortable.

  • If you’re running a 5k, you should finish the 5k thinking, “I don’t think I could have gone any faster”
  • If you’re doing a set of 10 back squats, it should be real heavy, real slow, and a little bit of fire by the time you get to rep 8, 9, and 10
  • If you’re doing an interval workout, your heart should feel like it’s beating out of your chest and you’re breathing fire by the end of the workout

Intensity = Uncomfortable = Results

Once again:  Intensity = Uncomfortable = Results.

Scaling allows you to maintain a level of intensity to help you garner real results.  And, for the record, this does not always mean scaling things ‘down.’  Sometimes scaling means making things more challenging.

But Because Everybody is Different…

An 8 out of 10 intensity for you, and an 8 out of 10 intensity for me, are not going to look the same.  They will feel similar but they will look very different.

If you did Rx, for the sake of hitting that “Rx” button when you record your score, but then you missed the goal completely?  Well, you missed the boat…

…the workout might even have felt like you were drowning.  See what I did there?

My Goal For You

Rx can be driven by ego.  Injury can also be driven by ego.  You could also place lackluster results in this category on occasion.

Give yourself the best chance at winning the health and fitness game by:

  1. Scaling for Intensity
  2. Scaling for injury prevention
  3. Scaling for better results
  4. Scaling to make your workout for you!

For the record, I am a scaled athlete for life!

And are you looking to understand how to better make workouts for you? Click THIS LINK to set up a consult and we’d be happy to help you with your goals!

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