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Should I Scale the Workout?

Athlete – “Coach, should I RX this workout, or should I scale the weight so I can keep moving?”

Quality Coach – “It depends.”

Really, though. There is no concrete answer to that question 100% of the time and anyone who tells you there is, is lying to you.

Every workout, strength session, metcon, or EMOM has a specific concept attached to it. We like to call this the “intended stimulus.”

At the beginning of every one of your training sessions, your Coach should be talking to you about the intended stimulus of that day’s training. At fitness Cape Coral, we usually do this after the general warm-up, when we gather around the digital whiteboard for a chat. This is where we always remind everyone, that the goal is NOT always to go all out.

Two things before we go forward: If you’re reading this and you don’t have a coach, fix that first. You can find one here. Then, if you do have a coach, but they’re not filling you in on the goal of your workouts, fix that. We’ll revisit this point soon.

Let’s take a workout and pick it apart:

6 Rounds:

8 Deadlifts @ 225/155

12 Handstand Push-ups

For some athletes, the deadlift at that weight will be cake. For most of us, they’d need to be broken up into 4s, 3s, or maybe even singles.

For the Handstand Push-ups, most people won’t be able to complete 12 unbroken each round. Hell, lots of us can’t do 3 per round, let alone 12 (yet)!

If I’m a male with a 500lb deadlift, then it’s safe to assume that I could perform the 8 deadlifts unbroken for most rounds. But if my current 1 Rep Max is 315, then those sets at 225 would absolutely wreck me, and I probably shouldn’t use that weight.

If I can’t do 10 Handstand Push-ups unbroken, then it’s probably a terrible idea to attempt (6×12) 72 of them in a workout with a bunch of other movements. Some people (who weigh less than 225 lbs) might look at that volume of HSPU and laugh at how easy it is (not this guy).

But the most important concept is still: What is the intended stimulus? What is the recommended RPE (Rate of Perceived Exertion)? Is this a workout that’s supposed to be completed extremely fast? Am I supposed to be working at a pace where I’m able to talk to my neighbor throughout? Is the goal to use an extremely heavy load on the deadlifts, while flying through a scaled version of the handstand pushups (or vice versa)?

You’re not expected to know the answers to all of these, that’s why we all have a coach! Next time you’re getting ready for a workout, make sure to ask your coach questions like, “How should I be feeling during this workout?” or “How long should this take?” or the golden question “What’s the intended stimulus for this workout?” The athletes at fitness Cape Coral get this information every single day, before every single training session, and you deserve this as well.

Now back to the original question: “Coach, should I scale?”

And I’ll say it again, “It depends.”

If you’re looking for a quality Coach, book a free No Sweat Intro to sit down with us and find out what you’re missing.

 Photo: Patrick’O Photos
Photo: Patrick’O Photos

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