The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly #3

Do you feel that? That sense of accomplishment? You just did a workout as prescribed! You went Rx! You hear the crowd cheering and popping bottles of champagne. It’s everything you ever dreamed of. Don’t celebrate quite yet though; although it can be quite a feat to do, going RX isn’t always a good thing. Let’s see what’s good, bad, and just downright hideous about RX’ing a workout.

The Good

Going RX on a workout isn’t always an easy task, especially early on in our CrossFit journey. So it’s pretty normal to hear people say that going RX on a workout is a goal of theirs. It may not be today or even in the near future, but one day they will. That is one of the purposes to putting prescribed movements, weights, and even reps to workouts: to challenge people in different ways for each workout. When you see Handstand Push-Ups in the workout, we scale the movement and work on progressions, in the hope to one day do an actual Handstand Push-Up as prescribed. When that day comes and you are able to RX every movement in a workout, you will have accomplished a great goal, and have become a better athlete and a more experienced person by doing so.

When you take the time to progress and put in the work on certain movements and weights, you get a feeling and sense of accomplishment. You’ve accomplished something that you couldn’t do beforehand, and more importantly you didn’t rush it. You did so by being patient and diligent in your work. This, of course, is not always the easiest. Depending on where you are, it can take years to finally perform a prescribed movement. How many still can’t get double-unders mastered? When you are finally able to do a workout Rx with a certain movement that you’ve had to put in lots of work on, be proud. You’ve accomplished and conquered a challenge. Job well done!

The Bad

Unfortunately, we sometimes see that RX label as the only sign of greatness or accomplishment in CrossFit, and if we don’t go RX on a workout then we think of ourselves as failures. This is a ridiculous thought. Effort and progress, these are the only labels that should show accomplishment. Someone who comes in and does less than half of the prescribed weight on the workout, but grinds it out and finishes strong, is just as victorious as the one going RX.

We just talked about how it takes time and diligence in order to progress on movements and performance. People who come in and dedicate time to progress those movements show amazing character. It’s not easy coming in and working on things you aren’t particularly good at. Most of the time, it’s just downright frustrating. Regardless, they grind away, getting better and better each day. So what if they don’t get to say they went RX on today’s workout? They are just as victorious and hard working as the person going RX.

The Ugly

Some of us are in too much of a rush to get to where we do workouts RX. When that happens, things can get ugly really quick. It’s important for us to be honest with ourselves and to realize where we’re at. If we do, then we’ll be more likely to RX a workout at the appropriate time. If not? Then we will probably get in the habit of basically changing the workout on a regular basis without even realizing it; using much too heavy of a weight and slowing down the workout. When we decide we HAVE to go RX for a 10 to 15 minute workout and load our bar up to a one-rep max power clean for 10 reps each round and then take over 5 minutes to get through the first set, and finally finish the workout 30 minutes later, we’ve missed the entire purpose of the workout. Turning a sprint workout into a marathon isn’t always good. You will gain more overall from scaling the weight back and staying within the actual intended timeframe of the workout.

I admit that I fall guilty to this at times. Not because of going too heavy, but because of my years and years of weightlifting; my wind is currently below average at best. So, on longer workouts with crazy amount of reps I gas out quickly and badly. There have been times that I have more than doubled the intended workout time. Yes, they’re supposed to be longer workouts, but to take a 20 minute workout and to turn it into a 40-plus minute workout is not the idea we’re going for. It would be more beneficial for me to actually scale back repetitions in order for me to finish within the intended timeframe. If myself and others could just swallow our pride and actually scale back in certain areas of workouts and put in the actual work to better ourselves, we would actually find ourselves doing those workouts RX in the intended fashion and timeframe we are hoping for. It just takes some honesty with oneself and patience.

The Ugly

A time cap on a workout is a helpful tool that coaches use in order to help athletes know what timeframe they should be in. Let’s say that we have a 15 minute time cap on today’s workout, and that the movement in question is double-unders. There’s 5 exercises with 50 double-unders between each one. An athlete looks at it and says, “I know I’m not that good at double-unders yet, but I’ll just grind it out till I hit the cap so I can say I did it RX”. They then proceed to only get through half of the work load in the allotted time. Guess what? They’ve again missed the purpose of the workout and the time cap. Oh, and they didn’t even go RX. You have to finish the workout in order to say you did it RX, seeing how anyone can just stand around for 15 minutes and technically say, “I went RX, I just hit the time cap”. If they would just scale the double-unders back by cutting the reps in half, they not only would have gotten the full benefits and experience of the workout, but they also would have probably gained more on their double-unders as well! Again, swallow your pride and put in the proper work.

The Wrap-Up

I’ll say it again, going RX isn’t always an easy task. It is, however, a good goal to shoot for. That is, it’s a good goal after we’ve taken the proper steps progress to prescribed movements and workouts. It takes time; it takes hard work. We’ll have to stay humble and be diligent in our work, so that when we are able to properly RX a workout, we will have earned it.


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