When you're looking at workouts on the whiteboard you'll often see something like this:
Thrusters (45, 30)
L3: (35, 25)
L2: (30, 15) (Band Assisted Pull-ups)
L1: (20, 12) (Ring Rows)
What does it all mean? Well firstly the workout you see up top is what we call the Rx. This is the workout as prescribed for a 95th percentile athlete. I.e. in the top 5% of CrossFit athletes worldwide. It is purely a guide to give coaches and athletes a rough idea of the stimulus of the workout. Once you have trained for a long period of time you'll see different weights and different movements and you'll begin to see which workout is a 'Heavy workout' and which is a 'Fast' workout or somewhere in between.
For this workout 'Fran' - It has a name as it's a benchmark we'll repeat.
You perform 21 - 15 - 9 Thrusters (Squat to press with barbell) and Pull ups. That means you complete 21 of each, then 15 of each etc. etc. 21 Thrusters must be completed before you start pull ups.
A lot of people make the mistake of thinking that completing the workouts Rx is the goal for CrossFit. This is only really the case if you are in a competition and you HAVE to complete it at the Rx.
The reality is that every workout we programme has an intended stimulus. That meaning the type of training effect we are looking to achieve for a given workout.
For example in Fran we are training upper body pulling alongside lower and upper body pressing. The intent is to work these two elements at a sprint pace getting our body working at our limit. The thrusters should be such that we can go unbroken (non-stop) through the round of 15 and the pull ups we be able complete in large sets. Ideally the workout should be tailored so that we can finish in under 5 Minutes with experienced athletes getting time around 3 minutes. This makes for a very challenging high paced workout.
This intent means that scaling the pull ups either in movement (by using bands, jumping pull ups or ring rows) or in volume (lowering to maybe 15,12,9) could be an ideal option. For the thrusters it may mean using lighter weight. If you have certain limitations or injuries it may mean changing to dumbbells or even adapting the movement. (Lower limb injuries may mean we remove the squat element.
The tailoring doesn’t have to be one way either. On some rare occasions it may be that athletes need to scale over the workout. For example the fittest on earth are now so fit that they complete this workout in under 2 minutes. This means they will often scale up to a more advanced gymnastic movement and a heavier barbell to give them the same training effect.
The message is that when you train you listen to the coach and let them help you tailor your workouts so that you get the most out of every session. Rx is a guide and nothing else. Remember we train to get fitter, happier and healthier. The Rx is only in play if/when we decide to compete.