We all have different abilities or different injuries. But how often do we let those abilities or injuries get in the way of performing workouts, as we should? This blog post will explain the importance of scaling, and how we can apply it appropriately.
CrossFit focuses purely on high intensity. Throughout my coaching experience I have come across many athletes who neglect that factor, and it is often the answer to why goals are not met. Not only is it high intensity, but we are also notorious for brushing off our injuries as not being important. Listen to your body; it may be the answer to achieving your goal.
Let’s look an example of a workout such as Diane. 21-15-9 of deadlifts at 70/100kg, and handstand push-ups (hspu). Obviously the two movements are completely different: strength in a barbell movement and strength in a gymnastics movement. If we are confident in lifting 70kg or 100kg for *multiple reps* (with good technique), then the deadlift is not an issue. If we lack the strength or technique to safely cycle reps, then we need to scale the weight back in order to allow for cycling multiple reps at a time. Singular reps just won’t build the strength or maintain the intensity.
The handstand push-up, on the other hand, is a common factor of frustration for many athletes. It requires body control, strength and shoulder stamina throughout. But, most importantly, it requires a good range-of-motion. We often default to stacking mats on top of each other or on top of plates to ensure this movement becomes easier. Now, don’t get me wrong, I have no problem with one or two mats. But when I see more than two mats stacked, it defeats the purpose of range-of-motion. In simple terms, it is not effective.
So how can we look at scaling this? One option is a barbell push press. It is the same dynamic movement as a hspu created from your legs and finished with the shoulders. Alternatively, if dynamic movement is restricted, the L-seated dumbbell press is a good option as it is a much more ‘strict’ movement, however uses the same mechanics. If we can use these scaling options, then we can create an effective workout for the injured or limited athlete. Practice your hspu with a coach (consider PT sessions to really add value to your practice) you and your coach feel you are able to perform them safely in a workout.
Injuries are a similar topic to neglecting scaling, however it is more the mental side of things when comes to performing an alternative. I personally struggled through a minor shoulder injury for a few months last year. It got to the point where I lost motivation purely because I was not getting anywhere with it. Looking back, I was ignorant to not trust my own knowledge to use an alternative movement to aid in my rehabilitation. Simply by adding in my own accessory work and using an alternative, I was able to reduce and completely eliminate pain from my shoulder. My point is, pushing through an injury never works and only loads more pain upon the area. And it also sucks when you lose motivation due to frustration at not being able to workout because of pain.
For those of you who, perhaps, don’t have the knowledge to be able to scale on your own: always look to your coaches for guidance. Whether it is scaling appropriately for your ability/injury or needing an alternative movement, do not be embarrassed about your abilities. You are unique and will only continue to grow and improve yourselves. Focus on high intensity, and how we can implement that into our workouts. With the knowledge of all our coaches, there will never be time where we cannot help you.