Wednesday 150805

As many reps as possible, of an ascending ladder, in 12 minutes of:
1 Hang power snatch, 95#(65#)
1 Overhead squat, 95#(65#)
1 Burpee over the bar
2 Hang power snatch, 95#(65#)
2 Overhead sqaut, 95#(65#)
2 Burpees over the bar
3 Hang power snatch, 95#(65#)
3 Overhead squat, 95#(65#)
3 Burpees over the bar. . . .

Post reps to comments and BTWB

T Swizzle knows where it's at.

T Swizzle knows where it’s at.


Do you want to do the WOD RX or do you want to get fitter? By Courtney “the Taylor Swift of blog post writing” Shepherd

Taylor Swift is known for once saying, “If you’re horrible to me, I’m going to write a song about it, and you won’t like it. That’s how I operate.”

So why would I even dare to compare myself to the lyrical genius that is T Swift? Because if you are working out at Verve and something is happening that, as a coach, I think might need to be addressed, there’s a good chance I’m going to write a blog post about it. There is also the chance you may not like reading it. But that’s how I operate.

Today I want to address the simple question of, do you want to do the WOD RX or do you want to get fitter*? (*I know the word “fitter” is not grammatically correct. Just go with me on it for a sec.) I’m certain in all of our minds the answer is “yes” because we want both, but unfortunately doing a workout as prescribed is not always the road to getting fitter. In fact, it could actually be what is holding some of us back from ever really progressing. To best illustrate my point I need to throw a numbers bomb at you. I am going to take the numbers from a recent workout at Verve. Here is my real world scenario/ Taylor Swift like moment that I want to lay disclaimer to, there are some athletes out there that my example may hit close to home. However, while I am using this as an example, I am not trying to make an example of anyone, and I hope you will see the difference. Every person who has entered a CrossFit gym and done a WOD, has bitten off more than they can chew. . . probably more than once. I just want us to see why making a habit of doing so, is not doing us any favors.

Here’s the WOD to be discussed:
20 Minutes as many rounds as possible of:
5 Muscle ups
50 Double unders
10 Handstand push ups
Run 100 Meters

There were several “RXs” throughout the day with scores ranging from 3 rounds to 7 rounds. Alright, it’s number crunching time. For the athlete that did 3 rounds that’s 15 muscle-ups, 150 double unders, 30 handstand push-ups, and 300m run. We can easily double those numbers for an athlete that finished 6 rounds. I will start by saying the design and intent of this workout was to get around 5 rounds. So for anyone that got less than 5 rounds I would start by asking, where did you get stuck? Let’s say an athlete is not super efficient at muscle-ups. They have them, consistently, but in single reps only, they are not yet able to link muscle ups. So at the start of every round, it takes this athlete around 3 minutes to chip away at 5 single muscle-ups, a movement that if done unbroken would take :15-:20. That kind of time adds up.

My next question comes after the first round, when we saw the time adding up, why didn’t we change something? Because our goal was to do the workout RX. But. . . . if perhaps our goal was to come to Verve, do an intense workout, and walk away with more fitness out of the deal, what would that workout look like? It would look like doing 3 muscle-ups/ round and getting 5 rounds. Because, after doing some number crunching, that still gives me 15 total muscle-ups, but it also gives me 250 double unders, 50 handstand push-ups, and 500m run. So next week when a workout comes up with somewhere between 200-300 double unders in it, the appropriately scaled, “5 rounds athlete” will be ready, they’ve built a capacity for that number of double unders. The “3 rounds of RX athlete” might end up stuck breaking down somewhere around 150 doubles unders because they have not built a capacity to do more work than that. If I’m really crunching numbers, 5-7 rounds of that workout is genuinely working out for 20 minutes. 3 rounds seems more like working out for 10 minutes with 10 minutes of rest. So what happens to me if I’m trying to build a capacity of stamina and endurance in a 20 minute workout. I simply don’t, and the next 20 minute workout that comes along, even if it has every movement I’m really good at and I can RX that one too. . . it will probably look similar in output, half the intended work. 

I’m with you on the idea that doing workouts RX is pretty cool. That’s why we make it part of our goals and we celebrate it as accomplishments. However, I would encourage a bit of a change in mindset. If we change our goals to being fitter, to doing a workout with the intended stimulus and intensity, if we push ourselves to keep moving and take less breaks, we may find that our level of fitness has risen to a point where doing a WOD RX just happens. If all we do is come into the gym and say to ourselves ” I can do all of this. It might take me a while, I might be pretty slow, or it might be pretty ugly, but I can do it. And I can get my RX.” I hope you all can see that this may be a recipe for not getting better at CrossFit but rather getting better at staring at a bar and resting, or staring at a set of rings and resting. Simply put, not progressing any farther than where I currently am, which is 3 rounds of RX. So my final question is, is that good enough for you? 

My final thoughts on the matter are this: you can always go lighter, do a few less reps, and get done way faster than everyone else AND that would be a better outcome, in my opinion, than doing the heavier weight, all the reps, and taking twice as long to finish the WOD. Why? Because the former option keeps you moving, it builds stamina and endurance. The former can build speed and a capacity for time under tension. The latter builds a puddle of sweat and a time of completion. 

As I said earlier, every single CrossFitter is guilty of overestimating their abilities or underestimating a workout or both. Doing so does not make us bad people, it doesn’t make us guilty of CrossFit heresy. But if we keep doing it over and over and either don’t learn from the experience or don’t care to learn from the experience, we can’t be shocked if 2 years down the road of our CrossFit journey, we are still a 3 rounds of RX kind of athlete. 


  1. Ali :

    Just for you Courtney so that you know that we are reading these…even if we don’t say so…that being said, I love this post.

  2. Linda Kiker :

    Yeah. Good point. Underestimating the workout. This is my challenge. Good post. And in regards to reading these blog posts. I read them every day. 🙂

  3. Charles :

    Bravo, well said.

  4. Sean :

    I can relate to this great post. I used to get bumbed out when I couldn’t do RX. Eventually (and as you point out) I learned that scaling taught me to move better and faster instead of moving crappy and slower.

  5. Mieszka :

    What about not writing rx on the board at all? People can write their accomplishments in their BTWB or on the accomplishments board in the back. It doesn’t push the “ego” to do what your buddy in the morning class did.

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