The Case for Masters Rx-Level WODs

Should there be a Masters Rx workout in addition to the men’s and women’s WOD each day?
By Jamie Toland, CF-L1 ,

For several years, when I’ve scaled the weight, movement or reps in a workout, I’ve joked with my coach that I was doing the Masters Rx. But then I got to thinking: Should there be a Masters Rx? Is there any merit in that?

For a long time, I just thought it was a way for me to feel good about not being able to do the workout as prescribed — I was a good enough athlete, it wouldn’t matter what age I was. But if that’s the case, everyone should either be able to do the workout at the Rx level or else you get a scaled score.

I brought the topic up to a group of badass Masters athletes who are part of a CF Masters Facebook group that I recently joined.

Below are some of their responses:

There are definitely merits in this area and will get more attuned to, especially since there’s official CrossFit classes or training for the Masters athlete. I’m not sure how many gyms will take the time to create Masters WODs, apart from just scaling the weights down from the Rx workout. I’ve had this discussion in my gym, but there’s not enough Masters athletes in their mind to do this. If you take a look at the Invictus programming for Masters or the CompTrain Masters from Ben Bergeron, there’s a real value in the age group breakout of the workouts. Too many gyms crank out workouts that are beginning to look more like a global gym for people to get a fast workout rather than focusing on training athletes in the CrossFit methodology.

I like “competing” against the youngsters at my box. I feel like it’s great prep for the Open. I am mindful that if I’m sore or aware of other fatigue issues, I give myself room to scale.

That would kind of mess up how you keep track of your performance on sites like Wodify. If I select “Rx” on Wodify, that means I did the same workout as everyone else who picked “Rx.” There’s no notion in the UI of a “Masters Rx.”

No and hell no. There’s Rx and there’s scaled. Not looking for special treatment.

It’s a worthwhile conversation, but to me, it just adds unnecessary complexity. We all know how and when to scale. Scaling down from Rx and calling it Masters Rx won’t make me feel any better or worse. I’m confident enough to feel good about whatever I choose for a given workout. I don’t need that level of validation.

My best take-away from the Open has been getting a feel for scaling things to something more appropriate for my age (58). I find that I made better progress the last six months by scaling back and pushing harder.

I’m 62 and at one time I probably would’ve said yes to Masters Rx. But my coach loves to push my limits on what I can do safely even if it’s slower. Although I still can’t do a real pull-up, I can use 44 and 53# KB when some of the younger ones don’t. He proved to me over and over I can do more than I think.

My humble opinion is the “Rx” designation is relative to the workout and everyone for that matter. The stimulus is what we are trying to achieve. “Fran” is a fine example. As a coach, it’s easy for me to quickly scale workouts up or down for others. On the flip side as an athlete, often my emotions get the better of me and my eyes are bigger than my stomach. Rx is a competitor’s mindset. Not a bad one. Remember — if it takes you 10 minutes to do Fran at Rx, then we’ll have lost the veracity and intent of the workout.

I like the idea of having a Masters guideline. But what’s more important is having a coach who will give each athlete advice based on the point of that day’s WOD. For example, if it’s a long metcon and the point is to sustain a continuous cardio workout and the Rx weight will cause you to stop for long stretches, your coach can help out with the appropriate weight. I guess what I’m saying is that a good coach who understands his Masters athlete’s abilities is worth far more that a weight guideline on a whiteboard.

The coaches at my box give the 55-and-over athletes an Rx designation for our WODs if we do 70 percent of the prescribed weight. Basically, the usual way it’s done in the Open. It’s nice because it puts us on the same footing as the younger athletes and ranks us on the whiteboard where we should be.

What are your thoughts about this topic? You don’t have to be a Masters athlete to give us your opinion — just leave it in the comments.

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