The Other Side of the CrossFit Rx Fallacy

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The #CrossFit Rx Fallacy

The #CrossFit Rx Fallacy
A friend of mine, Tyrell Mara, recently published a really good post —  “The #Crossfit RX Fallacy and 30 Ways to Train Better” – that addressed an important issue in the CrossFit community:

…our tendency to sacrifice everything (technique and form, safety, range of motion etc) just to see those two letters beside our names on the whiteboard: ‘Rx’.

And Tyrell’s post was dead on. We’ve all seen it (or done it) and in the end this does more harm than good because we’re more likely to get injured and develop bad habits/incorrect movement patterns by training like this.

However, those two letters, which can tempt us into throwing common sense out the window, also have the ability to “hurt” us in another way: by allowing us to become content to sit at “Rx” and restrict our growth as a result.

Allow Me to Explain: “Rx” May Hold You Back…

When I first started CrossFit, I couldn’t get a 14-lb ball to hit the 10′ target to save my life (or a 12-lb ball either, for that matter), and so I scaled my workouts, telling myself that one day I was going to be strong enough/badass enough to Rx my wall balls.

[T]hose same two letters that once motivated me are enabling me to justify using the same weight, despite the fact that I know I am much stronger now…
Somewhere during that first summer (not sure exactly when), I finally got to a point where I was able to use a 14-lb ball and hit the 10′ target (most of the time), which was great; but at the same time I feel as though I have let myself become a little bit complacent, because I reached the Rx requirements.

Every now and then (If there are wall balls and I’m feeling super motivated), I decide that substituting a 16-lb ball sounds like a great idea (a decision I almost always regret rather quickly and don’t make again for quite some time), but most of the time I’ll admit that I’m content to stick with the “Rx” weight.

And now, those same two letters that once motivated me are enabling me to justify using the same weight, despite the fact that I know I am much stronger now than I was that first summer.

“Rx” as a Guideline

Yes, it is important to have prescribed weights and established standards that give us something to shoot for and a means of measuring our performance and improvement. However, that does not mean there is no more room to grow once we reach the Rx weight; in the end they are only guidelines.

The most important thing we can do as athletes is learn to listen to our bodies and listen to our coaches. Why? Because unless we are competing, what really matters each day is that we are doing our workouts so that they hit us the way they were intended.

Grace in Cali

There is a big difference between training and competing, and there is a lot to be learned and gained from training above the Rx when safe and appropriate.
If a workout calls for 30 clean and jerks at 135/95 (aka Grace) and you struggle with those weights to the point where you’re doing singles right off the start, scale the weight back so the workout is difficult but doable. On the other hand, if you can easily C&J more than the prescribed weights, then challenge yourself and up the weight a little rather than coasting and getting a top score score every time. There is a big difference between training and competing, and there is a lot to be learned and gained from training above the Rx when safe and appropriate.

Although it might be tempting to live by the Rx, just keep in mind that Rx is a guideline, nothing more — except in competition, where the prescribed weights are required. Whether we train above or below that benchmark does not affect our legitimacy as CrossFitters at all. Being a good athlete is about more than doing the right weights; rather, it is about getting to know and listening to our bodies when training so that we maximize our improvements and minimize our risk of injury.

Visit Taryn Haggerstone’s blog, Go Hard Get Strong, for more of her thoughts on training. Follow her on Twitter @TarynHaggerston.

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