June 10, 2011
June 15, 2011

Cheers to everyone who made it out Friday night for the CFDC Social, and thanks again to Brendan for organizing (and congrats again on the new job!). If you didn’t/couldn’t make it, don’t worry, we’ll be better about organizing more.

Sunday’s Warm-Up: Gorilla Walk, Carioca Rt, Carioca Lf, Spider Walk, Carioca Lf, Carioca Rt, Bear Crawl, Carioca Rt, Carioca Lf

A serious warm-up usually means a serious class, and seeing as how the warm-up was done on the basketball court, making each exercise a full length, you knew something good was in the mix.

Skill: Kneeling Jumps

On the heels of last weeks seated box jumps comes another explosive iteration. Jumps were to be done from your knees with feet extended.

Make use of a slight stretch-shortening cycle by sitting back onto your feet before exploding up and forward with the hips, landing on your feet. Scale up by jumping on to, or over, plates or boxes.

Strength: 6 x 3 Deadlifts

The 6 working sets could be done either increasing weight each set or remaining at moderately heavy weight. Obviously, the weight you choose should not be your 3 rep max.

Great work with lots of attention to form, including some smart decision making regarding weight (highlighted below in a discussion about scaling).

Met-Con: 20 Blourpees, 40 Sit-Ups, 80 Squats, 40 Sit-Ups, 20 Blourpees

Cheers to Matt and Ethan for the Blourpees; there would’ve been an additional 20 for Brendan, but seeing as he bought everyone drinks at the CFDC Social, he understandably got a pass – we are not beyond bribery!

Core: 3 x 10 Paloff Presses/side

Great work everyone, keep it up! Now read on for a follow up op-ed regarding scaling, especially as it concerns form and intensity.



As a follow-up to last week’s post regarding good form and efficient movement, I thought I would give some quick commentary on scaling. I fear that some of us are attaching a negative connotation to the word “scaling,” as in “oh, I had to scale the _____ today… I’m too weak/I wimped out”. Nothing could be further from the truth! Scaling is about mastering, and thus optimizing, your own progress. That is never a bad thing. Adaptation doesn’t come from continually trying to get through workouts beyond ones scope. Progress is a product of relentlessly hammering the weak links, so you can move up the ladder of difficulty. Keep in mind that progress is often a 2 steps forward, 1 step back type of game. So long as we maintain that general forward trend, we make progress.

Scaling can be done by lowering the weight, lowering the reps, lowering the time, lowering the distance, or by altering or changing the exercise itself. However, scaling is not about lowering the weight, lowering the reps, etc., even though it’s made up of those things. No, scaling is about the amount of work done. Scaling ensures intensity. By this point, I’m assuming we all know that “intensity” in a workout is going to be different for each of us; what may be intense for Tom (800m swim, perhaps) isn’t necessarily true for Salty, and vice versa (say, 5 x 355 box squats with bands and chains).

So what is appropriate scaling? That depends on a whole host of variables, but most of it is pretty obvious (strength, endurance, flexibility, mobility – all the things we’re working on in class, oddly enough…). Let’s use the most recent class as an example.

In a strength session like Sundays, the easiest scaling option would be to work at a sub-optimal weight – i.e., a weight that’s lighter than what you would normally work at. The focus of your work sets then becomes either making each rep as perfect as you possibly can, or making each rep extremely dynamically explosive. In extreme situations, scaling could also include using a different exercise that targets the same muscle groups, say for someone with low back or hip issues. However, scaling in a low volume strength set like Sunday’s does NOT include working heavy for fewer reps than prescribed – that would be numbers chasing. If you can’t lift it for 3, good reps, then you have too much weight on the bar.

To further my example, I’m going to highlight Amelia and Erica, who worked together on Sunday. On Saturday, Amelia and Erica both did a full brick workout (24mile bike ride followed immediately by a 10k run). As such, they decided to scale back on Sunday with their DLs, working at a lighter weight but using the opportunity to perfect their form. This was a great opportunity realized through smart-decision making, and I can guarantee they both got more out of the workout than they would’ve had they pushed themselves to try and workout with their usual weights.

So now we come full circle to the comment that got brought this subject to the forefront, at least to us as coaches: when Dian opted to do regular burpees last week instead of double push-up burpees (which were scaled forms of the clapping-burpees), she was simply scaling the workout another step to help ensure the workout was manageably intense for her. This was absolutely the correct thing to do, and ensured her continued fitness progress. Had she not scaled, it’s likely she would not have finished the met-con, or it would’ve taken far too long, both of which are counter-productive. Neither Dian, nor any of the rest of you, need ever feel that scaling is negative. Remember, it’s not about what’s intense for anyone else, it’s about what is intense for you!

Feel free to sound off in the comments about this and/or the workout (including weight used for the DL).



  1. SBV says:

    Great post on scaling. Most of my scaling comes in the strength department, and sometimes mobility. Back when I was following CrossFit.com, scaling used to be a daily occurence. The issue doesn’t actually arise that often for me anymore because, in class, Tom rarely prescribes a specific weight to be used in a workout. It’s usually “15 dumbbell thrusters” rather than 15 dumbbell thrusters at 40#.”

    I definitely found scaling to be helpful when battling my golfer’s elbow injury.

    Lastly, Mark is ridiculously fit.

  2. Sara says:

    I agree great post on scaling. Yesterdays deadlift felt better than a couple weeks ago. I worked to 245 using small increments. I am pretty sore today from 2 days in a row of really working the lats. My legs are a bit sore too.

  3. Ethan says:

    I am posting just to be safe, since I see myself in the background.

    SBV- you have definitely been getting stronger. I am going to ask MC if you are “clean.” Perhaps “the hammer” shared his secret with you.

    Now that it is hot out, I think I am going to weigh myself pre and post workout to see how much water weight I lose. The over under is set at 1.5lbs.

  4. SBV says:

    I’m clean, dude! But, that’s a good thought for the next Salty blog post: Supplements.

  5. Steph says:

    I sense a little man-crush on Mark from Sebastian 😉

    I also agree that the scaling post is great and I hope helpful to all. I worked with Erica and Amelia on their deadlifts and it was great to see them focusing on form rather than chasing big numbers. They really focused on keeping the bar close and keeping tight through the movement. Well done girls! You guys looked great!

    The metcon sounded simple and easy, but I noticed and heard from a few people after class that it was much harder than they had expected. What was the worst part of that metcon? The 2nd round of sit-ups, the 80 squats, or the 2nd round of blourpees?

    Matt, I’m glad you asked someone before doing an extra 20 burpees after the metcon! Our rule is the entire class does burpees when the non-commenter comes to class, but being the non-commenter you don’t have to do an extra 20 burpees by yourself!

    Hope everyone had fun and drank lots of water after class!

    Sad that I missed the CFDC Social, but hopefully I will make it to the next one!

  6. Amelia says:

    Good class on Sunday. Was happy to focus on form after the bike/run Erica and I did on Saturday. And after Steph reminded me to keep the bar as close as possible to my shins on the deadlifts my last set actually felt the best.

    I actually liked the metcon – hard but in a good way. The quantity of squats and last set of blourpees were the toughest for me.

    I’m feeling those band side pulls in my olbiques today!

    I’m gone the next four Sundays in a row but will try to make it in during the week!

  7. Julia says:

    Loved the warmup! Both the visit to the animal kingdom + the 10′ of jumping on stuff.

    I like to scale in all aspects of my life. This past Saturday, for example, called for (light) reading and (heavy) napping at the beach. And today was a (2)-coffee morning, while Friday – just speaking on behalf of the class – was a (?)-shot night.

  8. Greg says:

    I must have done something right because my quads are sore today. And I liked the kneeling jumps.

  9. Kenna says:

    I love that we’re officially calling them blourpees!

    Friday was so fun! See you guys tomorrow!

  10. Scott says:

    I look absolutely destroyed in the burpee photo.

    Incorporating jumping exercises into the last few workouts has been great. I can feel my legs getting stronger, and I know it is only a matter of time before I am doing windmill 360 dunks in pick-up basketball games.

  11. Dian says:

    Thanks for the scaling discussion. I admit I have felt deflated when I had to scale in the endurance/cardio fitness department which was the major factor in my scaling to regular burpees during last Tuesday’s metcon. Tom did ask me on Thursday how well I would have done the double pushups had I opted to do those….my response, “oh, they would have been awful.” I’m glad I had enough smarts on Tuesday to know that regular burpees were right for me for that metcon. I plan on printing this discussion and stapling it to the reminder board in my office so I can give it a read every so often.

    Sorry to have missed the social. My Friday got out of control. Looking forward to the next one. I hope we see you in class during the week Amelia. I will miss you when you are gone.

    See you all tomorrow.

  12. Brendan says:

    Not sure if that’s a pic of me performing a burpee or collapsing from exhaustion…

  13. Chrissy says:

    I’ll use my comment to enthusiastically co-sign on the scaling discussion. I often have the same dilemma in my head that Dian mentioned as I’m deciding whether to scale something for impact or struggle through for ego. When I do modify, I’m almost always glad I did.

    The squats were the hardest for me, for sure. And Amelia– my obliques are feeling it, too. See you guys next week.

  14. Steph says:

    I think the ability to scale is one of the best things about CrossFit. When I first returned from the injury, I never wanted to scale the movement or the weight, and that resulted in me being reinjured 4-5 more times. Since I couldn’t be trusted to control myself, Chris devised a workout cycle for me where everything is scaled to my new weaker ability. Since starting that, I’ve not been in pain and have seen a slower but steady return of my strength.

    So yay for scaling!!!

  15. TomandAmi says:

    Hear, hear for the scaling. teh fact is that probably 80% or more of CFers have to scale most or at one time or another. Particularly, in the beginning as you’re learning the proper form and figuring out your maxes it just makes sense and is the safer approach. I read something somewhere on another CF Box site that whatever WOD is being done by the class the goal is that everyone finish generally within about certain close range of one another regardless of ability level an dyou achieve thisa by scaling – so if the WOD is Fran say everyone from a Danimal to a rank newbie would be finishing in the 3-6+ range. Dan would be doing it as Rxed and the other would be appropriately scaling to his the WOD’s desired metabolic pathway, etc.

    Here’s some additional thoughts on the topic thta are good that I ran across yesterdayby coincidence – June 12, 2011
    On Sunday, in the middle of a workout a person asked me if it was okay to modify their workout even though they had already started. You never need to ask permission. You need to listen to your body and do what your body tells you to do, not what the trainer of a group session tells you to do. If you are hurting and something doesn’t feel right, you absolutely should modify your workout. Not doing so would simply be stupid. You will never hear a trainer at CrossFit One World tell you, “Suck it up.” Injury is injury. Pain is pain. All the trainers have had some sort of injury and know exactly what you are going through. (Mental discomfort is an entirely different beast that is totally acceptable and should be embraced.)

    Another consideration is that often when you are new and still learning about the level of your physical capacity, you have a tendancy to bite off more than you can chew. You aren’t being a “sissy” if you drop some weight or modify the reps or rounds. You are actually doing exactly what the person programming the workout wants you to do.

    When a workout is planned well, the person programming it always has a goal in mind for the time or amount of reps that they expect a moderately fit person to achieve. The purpose of scaling is to make sure you fall within that goal. If you are taking twice as long as the rest of your training partners to finish, you are going too heavy. If you are finishing wayyyy faster than everyone else, you have scaled too light.

    It takes a few months of CONSISTENT training to learn how to read your body and how to listen to what it is saying. Don’t get caught up by peer pressure and think you have to work through pain or gut out something you aren’t capable of doing. Learn to walk before you run.

  16. Ben says:

    Enjoyed the scaling post, definitely sound advice. Great to see all of you at the social on Friday. Ethan might be onto something, I think a blood test is really the only way to make sure SBV is clean….

  17. Mark Minukas says:

    I hope we get to do burpees, even though I’m posting.

    Nice note on scaling. That’s definitely the right mindset to have. Easier said than done…but the right way to go, regardless.

    SBV – thanks for the shout out. I heart you too.

  18. Erica says:

    I know I’m late in the post and most people have already focused on TONIGHT’S workout which I missed because I’m in NYC for the day, BUT I much prefer Chris and everyone else’s term “scaling ” as opposed to what I call “absolute exhaustion which makes it impossible for me to lift any weights”. I’ve been struggling with hydration lately, even during crossfit workouts and losing my breath so quickly. Boo! Which is why I’ll be doing a lot more “scaling” lately…Really great work everyone!

  19. edgy reggie says:

    Oops, I didn’t realize that I was in the picture (dark person in the background while Sebastian was jumping…enlarge the photo to see). Oh well, time and class have moved on. 🙂

    Great post on scaling (and a great article posted in Tom A.’s comment). Throughout my nearly five years at CrossFit DC, I have had to scale — whether it was due to injury or to just not “feeling it” in the workout — on occasion. Again, all of this goes back to my mantras to “listen to your body” and to “check your ego at the door.”

    I arrived late and missed the warm-up. So I had to get some additional warm-up with the kneeling jumps (once I go the hang of them; my right knee was “talking” to me a bit).

    Deadlifts: One of my favorite exercises. 🙂 I worked up to 358# x 3, and I don’t think that my form was bad. Actually, I can tell when I do deadlifts right: My hamstrings, glutes, and upper back are all sore (as it was in this case).

    Met-con: Twenty “blourpees”? Ugh! Twenty more blourpees? “Sugar-honey-iced-tea!” 🙂 I made it through this workout. How I did is a mystery to me. 🙂

    Post-class: Yoga. What else is there on a Sunday evening? 🙂

    “Not too bad for an old man.” – CFDC’s own ODB