Scaling - Why and how?


It is absolutely pivotal and something we value hugely at GTF, as is the case throughout many CrossFit boxes in the world, that mechanics and moving well come before putting more weight on the bar or making a movement more complex. Safety, above all is everything, particularly if we are to promote life-long health and fitness, which is ultimately what we are after.

When we scale, as your coaches, we are looking to get the best out of every workout for every athlete. This takes great understanding of abilities, limitations and programming purpose. We are looking to 'preserve the intended stimuli' of every workout despite some limitations, be that due to strength, range of motion, injury or the like.

Heavy, fast or other such measures are relative to each and every person so the reason that we modify workouts for different individuals every day in the box is to keep the intensity personal to you. We hope that one day everybody that passes through the door has the goal of performing each workout as prescribed, but until then we work together so that you can get the best out of every workout in order to progress.

Our workouts at GTF are programmed to target a specific adaptation and proper scaling ensures these adaptations are met despite limitations.

When considering scaling options it is important that we consider what the purpose of the workout is supposed to be, there is no use going too heavy on a workout that is supposed to be performed fast if it means standing around for minutes at a time between reps. In order to get the scaling options correct there are a number of things that ought to be considered. Namely; what energy (metabolic) pathways we are intending to train, which links back primarily to the time domain of the workout, the movement patterns at play, for example, are we all supposed to be undertaking an upper body push involving shoulder extension, and the complexity of the movements programmed. Simplified complexity is no good all the time otherwise progress in achieving all points of performance in more complex movements, particularly gymnastics movements in CrossFit, are unlikely to ever be achieved. The balance of these considerations is an art.

We can scale by volume (repetition numbers), often used with those less trained individuals, loads, often used in order to preserve proper and full range of motion in a movement, but also we will scale by range of motion if needs be, in pursuit of long-term athlete development, maybe as a result of non-optimal motor control or mobility impingement. This allows athletes to consistently achieve the points of performance of a specific movement even if not necessarily working to the full range of motion on that given day.

We recognise, and you will see, that every so often, provided it is safe, athletes in the box will work through a movement or load they find especially challenging, this is pivotal to reach a threshold whereby progress can be made, however, most often it is important to match the workout stimulus first and foremost for the most effective workouts, to enable athletes to feel a sense of accomplishment and belonging in amongst their peers and long-term health, fitness and happiness, which is, of course, the end goal for us all.

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