What is Rx?

by Admin | December 31, 1969 | BLOGS | 0 Comment

Written by: Colette Wheeler

As written. As prescribed. RX.

The elusive temptress of any CrossFitter. A sweet siren song luring even the most experienced of athletes into its clutches. For some reason, checking the “RX” box for a workout has become a badge of honor. It seems to represent one’s level of athleticism and “worth” within the gym. If you can click “RX”, then you have arrived.

Arrived at what, though? In a fitness sphere brimming over with data points and objective measures (weight, distance, time) that are always consistent, the label “RX” is anything but consistent or measureable. It is a label that matures as the sport of CrossFit grows and changes. It is a “living” concept that alters in order to meet the needs of its particular, ever-evolving population.

Here’s a perfect example: In the 2009 CrossFit Games, the RX weight for a dumbbell movement was 40# for men and 25# for ladies. Nine years later in 2018, the RX dumbbell weight for the CrossFit Open was 50# for men/35# for ladies; in Regionals it was 70# for men/50# for ladies; and in The Games it is likely to be even heavier. They asked more of all of us in 2018 then they did the fittest in the world in 2009!!  So which of these weights is “RX” then? All of them. You see the problem? They’re all prescribed for particular workouts. We must breakdown and discover what each prescription is all about.

A workout prescription has two (unequal) parts:

1) weight/distance/movement/time

2) INTENDED STIMULUS

In essence, a workout prescription reads: “Manage all the things in #1 IN ORDER TO ACHIEVE #2.” Thing is, “intended stimulus” is a bit abstract compared to the information that precedes it. It takes a serious amount of coachability, reflection, and monitoring to get it right. It’s hard. Wah.

We naturally latch on to the clear, objective quantities given to us in #1.  Ya, it feels pretty cool loading up a heavy barbell, doing the fancy gymnastics, struggle-bussing through a distance -- but without hitting the intended stimulus we’ve missed out on some awesome opportunities for fitness that day. CrossFit is all about adaptation to a stimulus (awesome blog post on that here), so that second part of the prescription is like, THE KEY to your success and your fitness.

Solution? Monitor, reflect, and be coachable. It only takes a little practice to get a hang of this thing. During a workout, objectively monitor how things are going: How are you feeling? Are you hitting the target set/rep/rest goals given to you by the coach? Are you moving with integrity and purpose?

Coach Stan’s programming (as “RX”) is designed to challenge the top five people in the gym. It is actually intended for most athletes to choose a scale (volume, weight, movement etc.) that will allow them to push as hard as the top people in the gym. Without guidance, the novice will rush to the heavier weights and harder gymnastic movements so they can click the RX button more often. While they may get a temporary boost to the ego, their fitness results will slow.  Heavy weights and difficult gymnastics often requires us to rest way more then we should in the typical ten to fifteen minute CrossFit WOD. The magic happens when we choose a version of the workout that allows us to keep our foot on the gas the whole time. **Plot twist**: a properly scaled workout is the fastest route to fitness.

After the workout, reflect on how it all shook out for you: Were you totally crushed at the end? If so, were you supposed to be totally crushed? Coach said a target range for finishing was 10-12 minutes -- did you finish in that range? What would you change or keep the same for the next time a workout like that comes around?

Most importantly (and ultimately this requires the least about of brainpower), be coachable. Coaches want you to be the best, fittest, happiest you. We’re here to take care of all that monitoring and reflecting for you. By making yourself coachable, you put yourself first. It’s your fitness that you’re working for; your goals that you’re striving toward, and your success that you’re recording. It’s all about you. So make it all about you. Not about the other guy/lady/person you’re trying to beat in class or on the leaderboard.

Fitness is this incredibly long, arduous, rewarding journey. It’s not meant to end. There are ups and downs; days when you will click “RX” and other days when you will (proudly, knowingly, shrewdly) not click “RX”. Through your own reflection, monitoring, and coachability you can become a better, stronger, faster, fitter version of you.


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