Scaling Is Smart

Feels freeing to say that (well, type it at least). As I prepare to turn the page on my 30s, I’m learning some important lessons

“My name is Jamie, and sometimes I scale workouts, even in competitions.”

Feels freeing to say that (well, type it at least). As I prepare to turn the page on my 30s, I’m learning some important lessons in terms of continuing my fitness-focused journey. One of them is that sometimes you need to tuck the ego away and lift a weight, complete a rep scheme or modify a movement so that it can be done in a safer and more effective way.

I learned a great deal two months ago in Chicago when I completed my Level 1 trainer certification. Besides becoming more effective in instruction and execution of movements and training techniques, I took away from this experience the notion that just because an athlete can do a workout as prescribed (commonly known as Rx’d) doesn’t mean that he or she necessarily has to do it at that level or should.

Part of it is being better aware of what my body does and does not respond well to. Scaling a workout or competition should not be used as an excuse for athletes to dodge areas of their training that they aren’t good at. For example, if you’ve been scaling double-unders for two years by doing singles simply because you don’t want to practice them and get better at them, eventually you should probably continue to work on doubles until you are more efficient at them.

This past weekend, my fellow grinders and I took the court of competitive exercising and had a good time doing it. I think it’s important to work out, train and compete if you are able. But knowing your own limits is extremely helpful when you and your team are going to be completing as many as three separate competition workouts in a matter of hours. Pacing is always key, but being a part of a competition that lists the max weights, movement standards and expectations for bodyweight-based movements should help athletes find the level they are comfortable competing at.


The author in front.

We (the grinders) have similar mindsets and goals when it comes to our training and competitions. It’s difficult sometimes to take a group of adult males (or any of the overly competitive women) and get them to put ego and vanity aside to do the smart thing instead of signing up for something that we could potentially get hurt doing.

It’s easy to be in the box with your friends who you compete with day in and day out and just grab the bar and try to be the tough guy (or girl) so that you get the “Rx” next to your name, but sometimes it’s smart to back off if you’re going to risk injury. I’m not suggesting to not push yourselves or to try to shortcut the workout so that you can just post a fast time without working to get better, faster or stronger. However, knowing the difference can make a big impact on your long-term fitness journey.

When my grinder team competes, we always follow this motto: “Don’t get hurt, don’t finish last and have fun.” This creed has gotten us through a lot of difficult competitions, and so far, we’ve been able to stick to all three parts.

What are your thoughts about scaling workouts and competitions? When is it the right thing to do as opposed to chasing after an “Rx” score? Share your stories and thoughts to our Facebook page.

Stay on the Grind.

Jamie Toland (JTol)
Twitter @JTolgrinder