by Boone Putney
First let me say that I have a couple main goals when it comes to training you: To make you a stronger, faster, healthier person… and, more importantly, to keep you safe.
Rx is a term from the medical world that stands for “Prescription” we use it in the CrossFit world to mean that you did a workout “as prescribed.” So, the infamous Fran workout is 21-15-9 of 95lb Thrusters and Pull-ups. Any scaling from there would mean the workout was not done Rx.
What must be realized is that the workout “as prescribed” is designed for top-level athletes, and will not and should not be the proper level for most of the people in the gym.
“My goal is to wear the same shoes as Shaquille O’Neal.”
What’s wrong with that statement? Well… forget about Shaq’s horrible taste in footwear, with the noted exception of the neon-blue CO2 auto-pumps of ’94. The shoes are designed to fit his specific feet, U.S. shoe size 23 (You know what that means… he has a REALLY big …bill from the custom shoe store), and even though you can probably get your feet in them and hobble up and down the court, it won’t be pretty and you won’t get much out of it.
First the easy Topic: Safety
We can all understand that in any given movement, there will be a line where a movement becomes unsafe: too much weight, too fast, for too long, etc. Even though you MAY be able to pull a 500lb deadlift doing your constipated dog impression, it probably isn’t the best idea.
How’s my form?
If you really want to sit on the couch for the rest of your life, there are better ways to go about it than attempting to shoot your vertebrae out your ass. If you guys don’t understand this, just ring your call button, and Tommy will come back there and hit you on the head with a tack hammer.
…and now Performance
a.k.a. Results a.k.a Why you guys are in here busting your asses
Wanting to do workouts Rx’d is the same as the Shaq situation. Although our strength and conditioning programming may look more or less Random, there are set stimuli and responses that we’re trying to achieve through thorough and methodical planning. These WODs (and strength sessions, skill sessions, movement preparation, and mobility work) are designed to maximize effective time in the gym, and more importantly… drive results (or as Kelly Starrett would say: “dirty sexy nasty performance increases”).
BEWARE: Science & Graphs follow…
There are three metabolic pathways that provide the energy for our movements. These “metabolic engines” are known as the phosphagen pathway, the glycolytic pathway, and the oxidative pathway. The energy production and time domains are displayed above. The phosphagen pathway dominates intense movements that last less than about ten seconds. The glycolytic pathway, dominates moderate-powered activities that last up to several minutes. The oxidative pathway, dominates low-powered activities, those that last longer than several minutes. Hint: You’re probably in the oxidative pathway right now, unless you’re sitting at your preacher curl station reppin’ out sets of 10 while reading this (in which case you’re probably still in your oxidative pathway). Each one of these metabolic engines will tax different systems and elicit a certain response. We program for these specific responses.
So, if someone does Fran in 4 minutes, they will achieve the desired stimulus and the designed results. If someone is stumbling through Fran for 15 minutes, do you see how they might not be getting the same stimulus? While you will probably still get something out of lifting 95lbs overhead 45 times, if you scale to 65lb thrusters and band pull-ups, to a level where you can get the desired stimulus, you’ll see much better gains in the short and long term.
At the same time, maybe someday we will ask you to do Fran with 95lbs, even though it won’t be easy, and it may take you a little longer, because we’re trying to build your strength and mental capacity that day. We do these things for a reason, not because we love torturing you, or making you look bad on the world wide internet by displaying your time with some scaling next to your name. Chances are good that your grandma, or that cheerleader you dated in middle school, or your dog Duke won’t ever even read the results… but come pool-time, everyone will notice.
…So if someday you want to get to the place where you’re one of those top-level athletes who steals Mikko Salo’s milk-money on his way home from the gym… THAT’S AN AWESOME GOAL. It’s our goal to get you there, but if we want you to do 75lb thrusters so you can stay in the desired metabolic pathways, and generate gains, realize it’s with good reason. Take your 75lbs and run with it. Bust out Fran in 2 minutes with perfect form. Show us you deserve more weight, and keep grinding away. You’ll get there! Just understand if it’s not today.