To Rx or Not Rx

Published April 9, 2015

RX: Can You Versus Should You

Written by Hall Sebren, Crossfit Level 1 Trainer

The Misawa CrossFit community is alive and well with people working hard everyday to make themselves more fit.  As a coach, I see people making gains everyday in all 10 CrossFit fundamentals.  In case you don’t recall what they all are, here’s the list:  Cardiovascular/respiratory endurance, stamina, strength, flexibility, agility, balance, coordination, accuracy, power, and speed.  


In our programming we make sure to cover all of them, although we can’t work on them all at the same time.  We will focus on a few for a while then switch to others.  For the runners, this means you’re going to have to suffer through the heavy weights…we’re trying to help you with your strength.  For the power lifters, you’re going to have to suffer through the running…we’re trying to help you with speed and cardiovascular endurance.  Not doing a WOD because you don’t like what’s programmed for the day not only cheats yourself but your fellow athletes in your chosen class.  Someone there is counting on you for mutual support (read that as, someone wants you there to help them suffer through the cruelty the programmer has created).


We’ve covered the fundamentals; let’s discuss how to get through what those heartless programmers come up with.  So you know there is usually a 4 to 8 week program developed ahead of time, even though you might not be able to see it. We…I mean ‘they’, have a plan!  So what happens when you show up to your class and you see a movement or weight you’re not sure about?  Well, that depends.  Let’s use the benchmark WOD ‘Fran’ as an example.  For those not in the know, ‘Fran’ has a 21-15-9 rep scheme of thrusters then pull-ups:  21 Thrusters then 21 pull-ups, then 15 thrusters, etc.  The weight is set at 95 pounds for men and 65 pounds for women.  How hard can it be?  The answer is REALLY hard.  When completed by an advanced athlete using the prescribed weight, it should take no more than 4 minutes, and at the end, the athlete will usually be lying on the floor drenched in sweat, chest heaving, and lungs burning in an attempt to recover.  But wait a minute, what if you can’t push 95/65 pounds that many times at that kind of speed?


All is not lost!  There are a couple of things you can do.  What you’re trying to accomplish for the day factors in as well.  First, who says you have to go that fast?  If you’re a beginner it is probably better for you to go slower and make sure your form is perfect.  Second, who says you have to use the prescribed weight?  Maybe your form is great but your strength is just not there yet.  Using your great form, try increasing your speed.  If you’re form is solid and your speed is up to par, today might be your day to put some more weight on the bar and see what happens.  As a coach, I would be perfectly happy to see my entire class of athletes knock out ‘Fran’ doing air squats and jumping pull-ups using perfect form…hmmm this gives me an idea!  Since I can’t track all athlete over time maybe that will be a good way to reset some clocks.


While I can’t track everyone’s progress you should be tracking your own.  Hopefully you’ve been keeping a log (if not you need to start.  Just go to the BX, and get a plain little spiral notebook for a couple of bucks. No need to spend $30 bucks on some fancy thing that’s probably not going to meet all your needs anyway, I digress). Since ‘Fran’ is a benchmark WOD you should be able to look back and see what you chose to do for this WOD last time.  Maybe this time you should add weight or maybe switch from jumping pull-ups to regular pull-ups.  If the last time you completed it in 8 minutes, this might be a great time to see how it feels to go as hard as you can for 3-4 minutes, meaning strip the weight and switching to jumping pull-ups.  Whichever way you chose to complete the WOD, you’ll be working on one or more of the 10 Fundamentals listed above.


As I close out this article, I want to talk about egos.  I’m talking about yours, yup, you!  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen people who believe they are in great shape (but are really just strong), confidently load up a bar with the prescribed weight and then in the middle of a WOD have to take time to strip off weights because after a few reps their form goes to crap, and their lungs are on fire because the last time they ran was last year during their mandatory PT test.  That is a recipe for injuring yourself.  Check your ego at the door and choose a correct weight for your skill level—your coach can help you.  My last bit on ego is this:  don’t let your ego get in the way of you putting up your equipment and maybe helping someone else put up theirs at the end of class.  No one is too good or too cool to have someone else clean up their stuff.  And while you’re putting the weights back, put them in the right place.  Conveniently, there are labels saying where each weight goes!  Imagine that.  


We look forward to seeing you in class each day.  Show up ready to focus on getting more fit, have a positive attitude, and work with your fellow athletes as a team to get through the workout of the day.  3, 2, 1…..GO!


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