At CrossFit Jai, we have an introductory course called “Elements.” In Elements we teach the basics of CrossFit to folks new to the sport and those returning from a hiatus who need help brushing off the rust. One of my recent Elements students asked me, regarding joining full classes, “What is expected of me?” It’s a great question.
Greg Glassman is the founder and CEO of CrossFit. He said: “Be impressed by intensity, not volume.” Each CrossFit workout has an intended stimulus, whether it be max repetitions of movements in a fixed time period or completing a set amount of work as fast as one can. With the latter, usually there is a time cap or an estimated range of time it should take to finish the work.
I wrote before about the importance of scaling a workout appropriately to achieve the desired stimulus of a workout. (You can read that letter here.) If you spend an entire workout attempting to lift a weight one time, when the workout calls for three rounds of 5 lifts, you are not going to be working very intensely. You’ll probably become intensely frustrated, but that is not the goal of the workout.
Why would someone choose a weight outside his or her comfort zone? It could be because of two little letters that float around the whiteboard at CrossFit gyms: “Rx.” We track the workouts of the week, the members who came in that day, and the score (the reps completed or time used to complete the work) of each member. When an athlete goes “Rx,” it means he or she has used the weights “prescribed” in the workout, moved in the full range the workout contemplates, and completed the full amount of work staying at those weights and those movements. Some see it as a badge of honor, others as a necessity, others as an unnecessary talisman.
Rx may be a laudable goal, something to strive for as your fitness improves over time. But it never should be seen as a necessity for every member. Nor should it be a reason not to finish a workout or entirely miss the intended stimulus. Again, this is why we scale: We want intensity. We want effort. If you’re too focused of the “need to go Rx,” your intensity will suffer, and you won’t progress as an athlete.
So what do we expect of you? To put forth the effort to hit that goal, regardless of the score it elicits to go on the whiteboard. If that means weights or movements other than “Rx,” that’s perfectly fine. If that means your reps or time are different than someone else, but you maintained a certain pace, goal achieved. Not every athlete is the same, not everyone has the same goal, and not every workout will have a universal affect. Impress me with your intensity, with your effort. I could care less about the score on the board.
- Coach Ryan