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But Coach, I want to RX!

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Congratulations to those of you who competed in the CrossFit Open and/or The Dark Horse Open! Whether you competed RX or Scaled, or some combination of the two, hopefully you had fun and were inspired by your fellow Dark Horse community. 

This year’s Open was considered “next level” – the most difficult Open in the history of Opens. This pissed a lot of people off, whether because they struggled with the new RX standards (HSPUs, anyone?) or because it included new RX movements like handstand walking that conventional wisdom dictated would never appear in the Open. I think it’s safe to say that all bets are off and we’ll be seeing more of this in the future, not less. 

When you’re competing in the Open, and your goal is to compete RX, then you’ll do whatever you have to do (safely) to try and complete the workouts as prescribed. It’s part of testing yourself, digging deep, and setting goals for the coming year. 

But on an everyday basis, going RX is not always better. When it comes to your personal development as an athlete, you need to understand when you should and when you should not go RX.

So how do I know if I should go RX or not? The answer is, it depends! It’s going to depend on the intent of the workout, the volume and weights of movements involved, and your current ability. You’ve got to know yourself and be honest about your strengths and weaknesses. 

Take Fran for example. A 21-15-9 combination of thrusters at 95lbs or 65lbs and pull ups. This workout is meant to be light and fast – the best in the world do this workout in under 2 minutes. 

That said, the intent of the workout is for it to be a sprint, causing that metcon burn that leaves you on the ground, gasping for air. There is no point in going RX if you’re going to spend a lot of time staring at the pull up bar or barbell. If you or your coach think this is a likely scenario, then you should scale.

On the other side of the coin, there are times when you need to take the leap of faith and go for it. I have seen athletes take 10 minutes to do Fran, but still achieve the intent of the workout. The truth is, if you’re scaling Fran, and finishing in under 5 minutes, it’s probably time to up the ante a little and scale up.

The other issue you need to consider is safety. Let’s say you’ve just started getting pull ups – say, one or two in practice before class. Nice work! Fran calls for 45 of those babies. Hmmm…

Is it really smart to try and keep throwing yourself up over that bar if you can only do a few reps with good form? CrossFitters can be hard headed, but you may need to check your ego if you’re going to be able to come back tomorrow for more. (Remember our House Rules… Your Ego Is Not Your Amigo!)

Now, it’s normal for an athlete’s form to break down in a workout as they start to get tired. I’m not talking about that. However, doing movements poorly for repeated reps just to say you went RX is asking for trouble and is how injuries happen. 

So be smart about RX! RX should be challenging, but doable. If you aren’t sure about a given workout, talk with your Coach. I promise they will have an opinion as to whether or not you should go for it. 

And be ready to listen, even if you don’t like the answer.

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