Think back to when you attempted your first CrossFit workout. How was it? Awful? Awesome? Both? If your answer is not both, we all know that it was at least the first one, awful. You most likely suffered through it and thought you were going to die. You never thought it was possible to feel pain in certain areas of your body. Multiple trips to the bathroom were probably made. The sick, elderly, and crippled all finished before you. Lets face it; it was the worst day of your life. But guess what? You came back. Sucker.
When I began CrossFit it was both super exciting and very hard. In my first workout I had to squat with just the bar because my form sucked and during the WOD I got beat by two newly teenage girls. Awesome right? Several things pushed me to want become better at the sport, but a big one was the white board and the two letters ‘R’ and ‘x’. To have an ‘Rx’ by name would mean I was the best CrossFitter ever right? No, of course not. But at the same time… Heck yes it would! And I wanted it! So that became the immediate goal, to perform workouts as prescribed. This should be a goal of everyone in the gym. Let me tell you why.
Many would laugh at this notion saying that it would take forever to get to that point, or that it will never happen. And you’re right. For some, getting an ‘Rx’ by your name would take a great amount of time and work and for others it will never happen, but that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be your goal. Striving to get an ‘Rx’ by your name is a mental way to keep you going, keep you coming back to the gym day in and day out. Getting an ‘Rx’ requires a certain level of fitness, and that level takes work to get to. So if you’re constantly trying to get to that level you can do nothing but improve, regardless of whether you actually fully reach that level or not. Following me?
So how do we do that? How do we bridge the gap between scaled and Rx? Well the simple answer is, lots of hard work. But what does that work look like? Among many things it involves going to the gym regularly, it also involves an increase/importance/focus on your strength training, and, in some cases, it involves not worrying about your time. Gasp! How does that help me get an Rx?
I currently know many people in the gym, from coaching and working out alongside with, that always find themselves struggling with the decision whether or not to go prescribed on a workout when they are quite capable of doing it. (You guys know who you are.) From observing these individuals in the gym I have determined that many, not all, don’t go prescribed on a workout because if they did, it would take them a long time to finish the workout (Note: I am focusing on those who are nearly at the Rx level. That being said, for those who aren’t, this concept still applies to you). They are unwilling to sacrifice a longer time for a WOD in order to complete the workout as prescribed. For example, instead of doing the prescribed weight of a 115# push press or OH squat, they do 105#. Instead of doing 50 double unders, one does 150 jump ropes when that person is quite capable of doing double unders fairly consistently (think like able to string at least 10 to 15 together at a time). Instead of putting a medicine ball under your rear and forcing yourself to touch it every time so that you know your hitting the correct depth on an air squat, you simply continue to just squat to parallel and write it off as a full squat.
Many make sacrifices like these, not because they cannot perform the required movement, but because their time will be significantly slower if they did. Everyone puts a lot of significance on the speed in which they complete a WOD, regardless of whether it is Rx or scaled. Which is why many will not go the to the next level and do Rx because they know they will be slower. In addition to this notion comes the simple truth that “upping the weight” (going Rx) will hurt more. This also keeps some from going prescribed, often resulting in push pressing 105# rather than 115# as in the above example. Ten pounds more for someone whose max push press is well beyond 115# is more of a mental weight than a physical one. Yes it is heavier, but that doesn’t mean you can’t do it and doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it just because it will hurt that little bit more or add a minute and a half to your WOD time.
Sometimes, sacrificing your WOD time to go prescribed is necessary in order to get stronger/fitter overall. Say you do two different workouts a few days apart that have 115# push press in them. You man up and do Rx, even though you would rather do 95# or 105#, and it was the hardest thing you have done and you finished among the last people to finish the workout. Now, fast-forward to two weeks down the road, another workout with 115# push press comes up. You sulk, then man up again, and do 115#. As soon as you pick the bar up and begin the WOD you notice that it is fairly easier than the last time you did it and you’re stringing more reps together than you ever had before with that weight (Note: it doesn’t necessarily happen that fast, but you understand where I’m going with it). You never of thought you could of done 115# and would have still been stuck doing 95, 105, 108, or whatever if you had not gone for it and tried it. Sure it might have hurt and kicked your butt, but now you’re accomplishing your goal of getting Rx, which translates into your goal of getting fitter/stronger/healthier.
You will never push the boundaries of what you are capable of if you do not try to push those boundaries. Trying to go “Rx,” or getting as close as possible to “Rx,” is a way to push those boundaries
So next time there is a WOD on the board and you are on the cusp of being able to go Rx, why don’t you just go for it? Take on a little extra pain and another minute on your time; don’t worry about your name on the board and how you rank up to everyone else. Just know that you accomplished your goal of getting an Rx. As you continue to pursue this goal, your name on the board and its standing among others will take care of itself. But more importantly, you’ll be accomplishing your goal of becoming fitter and healthier, which is way more important than an ‘R’ and x’ by your name and should be the most important goal of everyone in the gym.