Posted on June 9, 2015

Should I Rx?

Should I Rx?

I've started this blog numerous times but have never really been satisfied with it. The reason for that is probably because I can tell you that the question posed in the title doesn't have an easily reached answer other than “maybe” – at least not without considering a sequence of additional questions.

Getting to the Question:

One of the most common questions in the CrossFit world revolves around doing the workout as prescribed, often referred to as "Rx". Early on, in one’s time at the box it's not so much a question but a wish such as, "I wish I could do that workout Rx" or "one day I'll do the workouts Rx". Then after a while there is a workout for which you do Rx and click the button. There's a feeling of elation and satisfaction to just the simple clicking of that button. As you become stronger, there are some workouts you can't do Rx, and some you can. At that point the questions begin: "Am I ready to do the workout Rx?" or "Can I do the workout Rx?"

To Rx or not, that is the question, right?

The real question that's been there all along, but isn't always asked is one that can produce as many questions as it does answers.

Should you do the workout Rx has a laundry list of questions that go with it. And the answers vary based upon your goals and desired outcomes.

Weights and Standards

Let's assume you started with, "Can I do the workout Rx?", because if you didn't, you should. I'll assume you started there and the answer was yes. You can do the workout Rx -meaning the weights are manageable for multiple reps and you have the movement standards. If a movement has a weight that you can do for a 1 rep max, and there are many repetitions of that movement in said workout, you should probably answer no and scale the workout accordingly.

Intended Result of the Workout

If the intended result of the workout, by design, is a fast and furious burner, and the weights or movements are going to slow you to a crawl, it isn't the day to do Rx. Let the intended result of the workout drive you. If you don’t know the intended result of the workout, your coach does – just ask. For example, Fran is (21-15-9 Thrusters & Pull-ups), is prescribed at 95 for men and 65 for women. Greg Glassman, CrossFit Founder, says this should give you the feeling of a few minutes of nonstop wide open max effort push to your limit. If the weights are at the top end of your spectrum, or you have pull-ups but they are singles and you have to rest between each one, you will not get the intended result of the workout. If you want the intended workout, scale the movements and go hard.


One of the most important questions to ask yourself is, "Can I do the workout prescribed with good form?”. There is no reason to sacrifice form and risk potential injury just to Rx a workout. Stick with something you can do that is still a good challenge and the next time you see the workout, you'll probably be ready to Rx it. (Note, that CHC coaches won't let you continue with the weights you've chosen if you can't maintain good form). Form might be off for more reasons than that the weight is heavy - it might be because you've had a stressful week at work or the kids kept you up all night. Know your situation and be willing to make adjustments to what you want to get out of a given workout. Some days it pays to show up, do a workout, sweat it out and walk back out of the box ready to tackle the world. Crawford Miller, one of the original CHC coaches, taught us that this kind of a day at the box is “getting better work”.

During the 2014 East Coast Championships I heard a great conversation about this very topic. "Everyone wants to take the benchmark workouts and make them heavy - like Heavy Grace or Heavy Fran. If you want to make Fran worse do it at 45# and not 95#. You really can't slow down, and it will completely wreck you."

The Transition to Rx

I've asked Pam when she thought we should tackle an Rx workout. Her thoughts were that if you want to push your limits and tackle some heavier weights, you should pick a day when we have an AMRAP. You will have an allotted amount of time to push yourself to do the workout. Even if the heavier weights slow you down, there is a time limit to the work and moving the heavier load is a skill piece that allows you to get stronger / better at a weight and movement you were working on.

Back to maybe. It feels like a cop-out of an answer, but it's not when you take time to digest it. Maybe you should push yourself out of your comfort zone and Rx the WOD today. Maybe you should scale the workout and experience the workout as it was designed.

Be smart so you can be strong. Show up, listen to your coaches, and you'll be clicking Rx without thinking about it quite so much. But if you have questions on any given day, your best resource is your coach.


Blog by Derek Hill

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