One of the key components of CrossFit is its complete scalability. Scaling up, or usually down, enables people of all fitness and strength levels to perform the same workout.
With weightlifting, scaling is easy. Simply add or take off weight from the bar. The movement itself can also be scaled. For example, if the snatch is called for, but not all the athletes doing the WOD are proficient with a full snatch, other movements can be substituted. The power snatch, the overhead squat, the sumo deadlift high pull, even a snatch grip deadlift, perhaps with a jump shrug, all preserve the character of the original movement and are integral parts of the snatch itself.
Monostructural exercises such as running or rowing are also pretty simple to scale up or down. A fitter stronger person could run faster or farther while a less fit athlete would simply go slower, perhaps a jog or brisk walking pace, or shorter distances.
Bodyweight movements are more difficult to scale, but a good coach will have plenty of experience in this department. Let’s look at an example.
The handstand pushup (hspu) is one of the more challenging bodyweight exercises commonly seen in CrossFit. In decreasing order of difficulty–full ROM handstand pushups, partial range hspu, hspu assisted by the feet drapped over a horizontal bar, handstand kickups, parallette pushups with the feet elevated, parallete pushups, pushups, knee pushups. External aids, such as bands, can be employed as well.
Most of the time scaling is on the down side, but movements can also be scaled up. Using the handstand pushup as an example again, the range of motion (ROM) can be increased by using blocks and then parallettes. Freestanding hspu performed without any balancing aid such as the wall is another way to scale the movement up. The ultimate hspu is performed freestanding on parallettes to enable full ROM. Furthermore, the hspu can even be scaled up further with clapping handstand pushups. Well…yeah, I am not quite there yet.
Scaling is integral to CrossFit and its claim to elite general physical preparedness. It is also one of the ingredients that make CrossFfit so fun. Everyone can do the same workout.
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Row 500m for time. Try to make it a PR. Guys-shoot for sub 1:30; gals-shoot for sub 1:50.
Work your way up to a 3 rep max in the deadlift.
Work your way up to a 1 rep max in the power clean. Do the weight several times with plenty of rest.
Skill work. Whatever you want. My favorite is playing around on the rings-levers, muscle ups, inversions, rolls, etc. Have fun.
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