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Defining “Level 1” and Scaling
In order for the system that is “CrossFit” to function it must be able to be modified, adjusted and “scaled” to any level with relative ease. What we find is that scaling in the sense of regressing an exercise that closely mimics the prescribed movement works for between 80-90% of the CrossFit population. This could mean taking something like a handstand pushup and scaling it with a number of mats, down to a pushup with the knees on the box. But what happens when people brand new to the program, or individuals with limitations for whatever reason, need further modifications in order to achieve an optimal training stimulus from the session? The goal of this article is to explain more in depth the purpose, execution, and progression within what we are calling our “Level 1” program, as well as review the purpose, methods, and importance of general scaling.
Level 1 Athletes and The Level 1 Program
To begin lets first put some objective definitions to what classifies one as a level 1 athlete (If 2 or more of the following apply this is probably a good fit)
Brand New to weight training/CrossFit (But not always! Many veterans could certainly benefit)
For an athlete of this level certain things take priority over others, in order to set the athlete up for success in the long term. Primarily: The establishment of proper motor patterns in the basic movements, structural balance between all joints and muscle groups, and a general increase of work capacity. In order to focus on certain fundamental attributes, other things become secondary and often postponed, those being largely: Olympic Lifts and high technicality gymnastics movements. These modalities are not bad, just not right at this time for these athletes.
The Level 1 Program participants will always do the warm-ups with the entire class but will frequently separate during the “Strength” and “WOD” portions of the class. This separation will occur only if the movements involved are considered to be complex. The athlete will know when a “Level 1” program will occur because it will be indicated when the workout is posted and the coaches will also describe the Level 1 routine during the class. We want to make it clear that on days where there is no posted level 1 workout, it is up to the athlete to scale the workout to a level that suits them, which is the topic of our next section, and should be viewed by ALL ATHLETES.
General Scaling as it Applies to ALL ATHLETES
In order for our system to be truly effective it is imperative that we maximize our performance within a variety of time and modal domains (words of the CrossFit doctrine). To do this we really need to be cognizant that the loads, movements, and reps we select for a workout match what our current abilities will allow. Let’s look at a brief example. Johnny McHopinscotch is a very strong athlete, and has built up his metabolic conditioning through properly scaling workouts over the years. The workout Fran comes up and he follows the Rx pathway doing all pull-ups and thrusters unbroken with a time of 4 minutes. He has achieved the high intensity, short time domain that is desired. Now his classmate and friend Rory Pidgeonsworth is extremely competitive but not quite as experienced. Despite the coaches recommendations he attempts the workout at an Rx level, and hits the time cap because he couldn’t link more than 2 thrusters at a time, thus failing to achieve the desired training stimulus of a very short intense met-con (WOD), over time Rory gets frustrated at his lack of progress and his nagging injuries and has to retire from CrossFit…. A lose-lose for everyone
The moral of the above story is that regardless of what anyone else is doing it is imperative to your success that you scale the workout to your current fitness level. If you are unclear as to what or how you should scale something, please ask your coaches. We are happy to help with this, as we want you to get the most effective workout possible. During every workout, we will always go through scaling options, but if you ever need anything beyond what is mentioned, do not hesitate to ask.
To summarize the key points on scaling: