Rx’d or Not quite? A gentle reminder of that definition…

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Rx or, “as prescribed,” does not only refer to the weights used in a workout, it also refers to movement standards. 

As a person who truly loves the sport of CrossFit and understands what it takes to be an athlete at the top of this sport, I take the  term “Rx” extremely seriously. It’s actually sacred to me. Yep, sacred. Rx or, “as prescribed,” does not only refer to the weights used in a workout, it also refers to movement standards, i.e. hips below parallel on every type of squat; every wallball making contact with its intended target, every pullup showing the chin above the bar and full elbow extension at the bottom; every handstand pushup showing control and balance at the top of the movement, every Jerk stood completely up before the bar is dropped from overhead lockout…I could write an entire article on standards alone (not a bad idea), but you get my point. When someone comes up to the board and says “Rx” when clearly I know that their workout was not done completely “Rx,” I do my best to not make that person feel badly but still to inform them of what was NOT Rx about their workout. If this has ever been you, do not take offense to this. It is my job as your coach to instill good habits in you, and it is also my job to protect the man or woman working very hard next to you who DID do a fully Rx workout. Just because you did the Rx weight but couldn’t get your hips below parallel on your back squats means that you in fact, did not do an Rx workout. So keep this in mind before you give your coach your WOD score – and in choosing your appropriate weight for the workout.

These movement standards fully apply to those who “scale” the workout, as well.  Scaling is not shortening the movement standards – it is looking at the workout as it’s written on the board and evaluating weights and volume for each individual’s capacity at the same level of effort and intended time domain.  To take shortcuts is cheating the purpose of the movement and the musculature that is involved in it.  If someone is given an accommodation to range of motion in a movement due to injury, that is a modification made that has temporary intent and the coach will work with that athlete over time to get them to a full movement standard as they are able.  The expectation is set and the athlete meets what they and the coach have established – and it should be noted on the board and in the athlete’s workout journal.

A great blog post about this was written by Dawn Fletcher in 2011 called “CrossFit Cheaters Anonymous“.

If this article makes you uncomfortable, there is still good news: you have the ability to change from today forward and start being an athlete with integrity, not an “athlete”.  We will certainly commend you for it.

Another good write up in helping us understand these terms – Rx’d/”ALJ”/Scaled.  Orange text indicates a link.

Defining “Rx’d”

A New Scoring System for CrossFit: Scaled, Rx, and…ALJ?!?

“As Rx’d.” You know what it means. “As prescribed,” per CrossFit Kinnick, “means that we completed the workout as written, with no scaling or modifications, with full range of motion (ROM).” They go on to add:

Perform your movements according to the standards and earn your prescribed status 100%. Let there never be any question that you played a good, clean game.

[M]arking a workout performance “as Rx’d” is something special. It means something. It means that you are a pretty solid athlete. It means you did all of the prescribed reps, with no substitutions or scaling. If you substitute an exercise, or scale the workout somehow, it is NOT “as Rx’d”. It also means that you demonstrated solid form throughout the effort.

Some of your very last reps might not have been absolutely perfect and beautiful, but 97% of them should be. It means that your ROM was complete on EVERY rep. In order to do a WOD as Rx’d, you must redo reps that were not complete. I know its hard to go all the way down to floor on each push-up, especially towards the end of a workout. But if you don’t, you didn’t do it Rx’d, period.

Remember that CrossFit is the sport of fitness, and sports have rules and standards. Triangle CrossFit summarizes it well:

[J]ust like the sport of basketball, baseball, etc., there are standards associated with the game. A strike is a strike. The ball through the hoop, not the ball hitting the backboard, gets you two points.

Perform your movements according to the standards and earn your prescribed status 100%. Let there never be any question that you played a good, clean game.

Being Smart Before Going “Rx”

Be smart!

Certainly you should care about the rules and integrity of the sport as practiced in your box. But you also put your health and longevity as an athlete in jeopardy if you push too hard to a do a workout Rx’d when you should not, as CrossFit Hollywood explains:

Most injuries are caused by your own over-tension and technique faults rep after rep after rep. It likely wasn’t the 1RM bench press attempt that tweaked your shoulder, it was the months prior of lifting with poor form. And looking back, you probably know it.

Like that rough bumpy part of the road that wakes you up before you drive off the highway, most injuries will give you warning signs before the final straw. Learn to pay attention to those signs and heed them.

… The “Rx” weight is kind of misnamed. It is merely a suggestion. The prescription for a workout is whatever is suitable for you on that given day at that given time. It’s not imperative that you thrustered 135 pounds a week ago. Maybe last night you didn’t get much sleep. Or maybe you’ve been in your car all day and your hips are tight. Or any other reason you may not be operating at 100% today. If a 95-pound bar is your Rx TODAY, so be it.

Is it worth sitting on the sidelines for two months while your shoulder heals from bursitis because you wanted a star next to your name on the whiteboard? Do you think you’ll get any less of a workout if you scale down to ensure proper form and protect a nagging joint?

Read our article on “Scaling with a Purpose” for more on this topic.

Not Quite Rx’d = “A Lil’ Janky”

Not quite RX'd

So what is the solution? Freddy Camacho of CrossFit One World has come up with an updated scoring system for their whiteboard results to reflect the middle ground between “scaled” and “Rx’d”:

[T]he “Rx” weight is kind of misnamed. It is merely a suggestion. The prescription for a workout is whatever is suitable for you on that given day at that given time.

[W]e still see people miss lots of reps and the first thing they say when we write their result on the whiteboard is “I did it as RX!”

I don’t really make a big deal about it. I came from a bodybuilding background. I relate people thinking that they do workouts “as RX’d” to those guys who were spotting me on a bench press and telling me, “It’s all you!!!” We tend to turn a blind eye to the truth so we don’t discourage valiant efforts. I love it when peeps work their ass off and get excited about accomplishing something they didn’t think they could do. BUT…….

THE KING HAS NO CLOTHES!!! Let’s call a spade a spade, but encourage hard work. We write “RX” next to performances that meet the criteria for RX’d. We don’t write anything next to a performance that is scaled. I propose a third measurement. I used it the other night when a person doing the 150 push-up/shuttle run workout had more than a few reps that were definitely not legit. When he told me his time, I wrote “A LIL’ JANKY.” He was cool with it, and we both laughed.

Over the long term, by reserving the term “Rx” for truly Rx-worthy efforts, you will hold yourself to a higher standard and you will see the best gains.

“ALJ”- You used the RX’d weight, and you did the required amount of reps, but in all honestly, it wasn’t quite RX’d. Good work. You need to work harder and get stronger. Your result was ALJ, but you will work harder and do it RX’d next time.

A lil’ janky. Love it.

Over the long term, by reserving the term “Rx” for truly Rx-worthy efforts, you will hold yourself to a higher standard and you will see the best gains. But enjoy the journey and start celebrating your progress along the way from scaled to Rx’d by using Freddy‘s intermediate designation of “ALJ” on the whiteboard!

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