Should You Rx?

What does it mean to Rx a workout and should Rx be your goal?

To Rx a workout is to do the weight prescribed as well as the range of motion of the movement on every single repetition.

The prescribed load is there as a guide to delivering an intended stimulus of the workout.  

Athletes more often than not view RX as a badge of honor vs using it as a guide for decision making.

Being humbly aware of your physical limitations and exercise capacity should be our guide when choosing weights for workouts, scaling options for gymnastics, distances for “cardio” and rep scheme scaling for volume on body-weight calisthenics.

If we can deadlift 225/155lb 5×5 that’s a good thing.  This doesn’t mean that weight is a good choice for you if the workout is 21-15-9 225/155lb deadlifts and Hspu.  The workout is intended to be fast and close to unbroken reps and under 5 minutes.  If 5×5 is heavy for us, we’d have a tough time cranking out 21 deadlifts in a row.  

So how should you choose your weights and reps?  There’s a very large learning curve and some trial and error involved.  The best guide is consistency before intensity.  You should be able to move close to perfection before adding intensity.  In simple terms, don’t go faster or add more weight until you’re technically sound.

Is RX a good goal?  I think goes a bit both ways.  For the beginning athlete, a year or less of Crossfit experience that’s still developing technical proficiency, it’s more often than not a poor decision.  There are some exceptions along the way.  If someone has past lifting experience and they’re really strong, it can happen.  What I’ve witnessed over the last 8-9 years goes the other direction.  Athletes get caught up in the moment and want to participate/compete with others in the class (Sugarwod) and the result is:

  • Poor movement patterns are developed.  Range of motion isn’t achieved, therefore absolute strength isn’t developed, ever.  Athletes choose more weight than they can lift and they rarely progress.
  • Injury. Too much weight too soon will inevitably get you injured.  It takes years-lifetime to get strong. A strained back is often all it takes for an athlete to throw in the towel.
  • Central nervous system fatigue. Repeated exposure to a stimulus too great will result in a decrease in performance.  Poor sleep, extreme soreness, decrease in strength, irritability, and workouts taking you longer than everyone else are done good signs you’re doing too much.

I like to think that strength is achieved during the first portion of our classes.  Sure you can get strong during workouts, but the strength you’re looking for happens at the beginning of class that will transfer to your workouts, eventually.  

A good rule of thumb is this: You control the weight efficiently.  If the weight is controlling you and throwing you out of proper positioning, it’s too heavy. Muscles are working overtime that shouldn’t be.

Don’t turn a conditioning piece into a strength piece.  You know what I’m talking about.  You’ll get in better shape moving lightweight fast vs barely squeezing reps out.

Lift within your capabilities.  Don’t violate this unwritten code.  

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