Scale Today, Rx Tomorrow

How can scaling your athletes help them?No one understands the importance of scaling a WOD more than this writer. I’ve had my fair share of WOD evaluations where I jump in to Rx, but the weight is too heavy. It’s made me realize that you’d think your members are in-tune to their bodies well enough to know when to scale, but they really don’t. What you’ll find more than not is that it’s hard to check egos at the door, especially when members are making gains. Therefore, it’s on the Coach to help guide scaling practices for all members.

We recently interviewed Scott Keyser, the owner and lead Coach for CrossFit Stevens Point, to discuss how scaling is essential to success in your Box:

Box Pro: How do you instruct scaling for your members?

Scott Keyser: Scaling is so important. We emphasize and correct form so that our athletes can approach CrossFit as a lifelong sport. For example, most athletes cannot start off doing handstand push-ups. So, we scale. We’ll get them into correct form for push-ups using a box, V push-ups on the floor, wall walks with a press at the top and progress to scaled handstand push-ups with ab-mats stacked under the head. We keep the end goal in mind and show athletes how to develop strength to form to get there safely.

BP: As you get closer to the Open, what exercises do you encourage scaling, and what others may you push to do outright?

SK: We always encourage double-unders. We regularly schedule double-under practice as part of our warm-up or pre-WOD. As the Open approaches, we will keep a vigilant eye on the weights. We don’t want our athletes going too heavy and risking serious injury. So, reducing the weight is probably our biggest scale. We shorten long WODs for newer athletes or athletes recovering from injury. When it comes to body weight movements, we do encourage our athletes to push themselves as long as form is not compromised.

BP: How do you use scaling to help members progress at certain areas?

SK: As I mentioned earlier, we always use scaling as an opportunity to show our athletes how they use the scaled movement to develop the strength and correct form to progress to the movement standard. Pull-ups are a great example. We allow our athletes to use bands for assisted pull-ups only if the athlete can do a strict pull-up with a negative going down on the band. If an athlete cannot perform this movement, then our Coaches will move the athlete to rings to build strength and progress to an assisted pull-up with a band. We watch athletes and switch them to less resistant bands when appropriate, keeping in mind the ultimate goal is a strict pull-up with no assistance.

Tyler is a former editor of Box Pro Magazine.