We had a workout at the gym this week that no one “finished”. It was 22 minutes, or less if you finished the work fast enough.


For time:

100 Double Unders

50 Push-ups

50 Abmat Sit-ups

Rest 60s

75 Double Unders

50 Walking Goblet Lunges (53, 35)

50 KB SDHP (53, 35)

Rest 60s

50 Double Unders

50 Pull-ups

50 Hollow Rocks

Rx+:(150-100-50 Double Unders) (GHD Sit-ups for Abmat Sit-ups) (C2B Pull-ups)
L3: (30 Pull-ups)
L2: (90s of Double Under Attempts each set) (35, 25) (Band Assisted Pull-ups)
L1: (Single Unders) (BW Lunges) (30, 20) (Ring Rows)

22:00 Time Cap


That day during one of the evening classes, people were commenting on how no one had “finished” the full amount of work in the 22 minutes. There was a general consensus that the workout was uncompletable.

I mentioned that if you scaled properly, you should be able to get all the work in under the 22 minute cap. The response I got surprised me…..

What is scaling?

Scaling is the modification of a movement, exercise, or the weight being lifted to accommodate a person’s experience, skill, or fitness level while allowing for an effective workout and improvement in said movement or exercise.

Scaling provides alternatives for people that are still learning new movements to get in a good workout with the rest of the class. An example of a scale is when someone does ring rows instead of pull-ups because they aren’t yet strong enough to hang from the pull-up bar.

Scaling can be used for anyone based on where they have progressed in their ability and fitness or, someone with an injury. Many people with injuries perform scaled movements or less weight in exercises while they rehab and recovery. It is a very effective way to help people work through an injury without losing any progress they’ve attained.

Look at the workout above and see there are 4 level options. Scaling works both ways. There are options to make it more challenging or ways to make it meet someone where it best fits them, whether they are more advanced or just a beginner.

Scaling IS the point

The response I got back was “but scaling isn’t the point!”

That couldn’t be further from the truth. Scaling is what makes CrossFit so special. Without scaling, CrossFit would be just another group fitness program that was one size fits all, with nothing built in to help people improve and get better, safely.

Scaling is what makes each CrossFit class a little bit like Personal Training. It allows the coach to work one-on-one with each member and identify what options will work best for them in every class.

Being able to scale provides each person the tools to adjust the challenge of each workout to fit where they are and be successful in each workout.

Having options to scale and modify has enabled many people with injuries or disabilities to enjoy the experience of self-improvement and see drastic, positive changes in their lives.

But isn’t CrossFit all about going heavy and hard?

CrossFit is about doing things well over time and increasing the intensity as your ability increases. One of the first things a CrossFit coach learns is the concept of Technique performed with Consistency before increasing Intensity.

http://library.crossfit.com/free/pdf/CFJ_English_Level1_TrainingGuide.pdf (Chapter: Scaling CrossFit – Page 79)

The program doesn’t work if people are over-extending their ability. Training isn’t as effective and injuries are higher, no one benefits when this happens.

In a training environment (which is what most of us are in) The goal is to finish the workout. When you finish the workout you know you have hit the target of the exercise and have gotten exactly what you were supposed to get out of it.

Scaling is what allows us to hit the target of each workout. It allows us to adjust the intensity to fit where we are technically so we can perform consistently.

Are there times when it’s not about finishing, absolutely. There are times where going all out and just working your butt off is what matters, whether you finish or not. These times are not the norm for training and development. They are reserved for special occasions, competition, or specific training goals.

For the general person pursuing fitness improvement, a better lifestyle, and more physical freedom. Following the program by utilizing proper scaling is the secret to success.

Here is a little more info on how following the program works and why it’s important to learn how to scale to see greater and faster improvement. 


Things scaling is not

  • Scaling is not a shortcut to finish fast and get high reps in a workout
  • Scaling is not anything to be ashamed of. Too many time I’ve heard people say “Ya, but I scaled” GOOD FOR YOU!! You did it your way and it kicked your butt and you worked hard and you got better at something! Be Proud!!
  • Scaling is not sailing. Don’t scale just because you “aren’t feeling it today”. Sure there are times when you don’t feel like pushing yourself. Unless something is wrong. Push yourself anyway.

The concept of Scaling goes beyond CrossFit. No matter what you’re working towards, take little bites, get good at the little things first and grow into more.

We’ve made available a 5 step guide that you can use to find a program that can help you make all these improvements for years to come. Go here to DOWNLOAD it now.