Is Scaling Up Your Workout The Easy Way Out?

Is scaling up your workout the easy way out?

Let’s say you see the workout up on the board…

5 Rounds

20 Kettlebell Swings (53/35#)

15 Wall Balls (20/14#)

10 Box Jumps (24/20”)

400M Run

…and you think it looks “easy”. So you decide, “Today I’m scaling up!” Instead of swinging the 53 lb. kettlebell you grab the 70, instead of the 20 lb. medball you grab the 25 and instead of the 24” box you upgrade to the 30”. That’s cool and all but what is your reasoning? What is your rationale for going heavier with the weights and higher with the jumps? Do you want more of a challenge or do you want an excuse to rest more and move slower? Huh?

Hell we’ve all been there in the midst of a brutal workout and have to take a quick second to reevaluate our lives, catch our breath, take a quick swig of water, then get back after it ASAP. Heck I did it on Memorial Day a little over a month ago. I look at it this way; it’s one thing to start to die mid-WOD when you’re going all out, whether you’re doing the workout scaled or Rx, it’s another thing to have to stop because you bit off more than you can chew and you’re now doing 1 rep at a time because you wanted to do Rx+. I’m not ashamed to admit that I’ve done scaled workouts that have broke me off…multiple times. But that’s kinda the point, right?

I had an old boss who would always grill us Graduate Assistants on getting comfortable with the uncomfortable. The rationale was that at some point in our careers there would be a life or death situation that we would be responsible for and he expected us to be the most prepared person in that situation to get the job done. “What the hell does doing Wall Balls have to do with life or death?” Nothing, but it does have to do with comfort.

When you do wall balls, do you always just break them up into sets of 10 when the workout calls for 30 each round? Is 10 reps your comfort zone? Would 11 really kill you? We’ve all hit the wall and had to set that ball down. I know I’m guilty. It happens, but why are you really setting the ball down? Are you just toast and can’t do one more rep or did you just do your normal 10 and drop the ball because that’s what you’re comfortable doing? Why not try for 13? Why not shoot for 15? I know it’s comfortable to just do 10, but you need to push yourself outside of your comfort zone to see the results you want.

Maybe next time before you scale up try to do more reps unbroken of the exercise at the Rx weight. Will it suck, probably, will you die, no, will you be better, yes. Wall balls aren’t life or death. Ok maybe they are death to some people, but they are a good barometer for where you are at. So next time you think about dropping the ball to take a rest because you got to 10, suck it up and do 1 more, actually suck it up and do 3 more or 5 more. Push yourself. I’m fairly confident you won’t die nor will you regret it.

Now I don’t know why everyone that scales up a workout does it. I think some people might do it because they think having the Rx+ next to their name on the whiteboard looks cooler. I mean…it does look cool. I think some people may do it because they don’t know any better and they just think heavier is better. I think some people possibly do it to show off to others. And I think some people perchance do it to have an excuse to take more breaks and now have a reason for being slower.

I’m not saying one way is right and one way is wrong. Sometimes going heavier is a great way to mix up your training. All that I am saying is be honest with yourself the next time you want to go up in weight. If you can’t do the prescribed workout unbroken then you probably shouldn’t be scaling it up.

Oh yeah, and if you want to scale up, are you really running your 400m as fast as you can each round or are you just using that as a way to rest too?

(I have a friend that shale remain nameless that I custom program for and he asked me last week if he could scale up the workout above because it looked “easy”. I told him the choice was his but I told him to just try to do everything unbroken and as fast as possible and not scale it up…he scaled up anyways. His response an hour later, “I made a mistake.” Maybe he dragged both his shins down the box in round 3? And maybe he didn’t. Only him and I know. Well and his wife and his two kids and anyone that sees him in shorts…hehehe. Love ya big guy!)

1 Comment

  1. One armed man | July 3, 2017 at 4:44 pm



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