Here’s a great blog post by Carrie Anton regarding RX’ing or not brought by The RX Review.
“Rx” is similar to what you see at your pharmacy because in CrossFit it means “prescribed”. WODs — workouts of the day, for the true newbie — are typically defined with set weights to use, or laps to run, reps to complete etc… If you do the workout exactly as it is written on the whiteboard, then you’ve done it Rx. If you’ve had to lower weight amounts, switch out the running for rowing, or decrease reps to finish, then you’ve scaled the WOD, and thus did not do it Rx.
Know Your Strengths… and Weaknesses
If you have a strong (and recent!) gymnastics background, and the WOD is all about handstands and ring work, it’s safe to say that you might be able to Rx it. However, if that same workout includes deadlifts equal to your bodyweight, and you’ve never put your hands on a barbell, scaling is the safest way to continue.
Get Coach Cues
Your coach is there for a reason — use his or her knowledge to help you get the most out of your WOD without hurting yourself in the process. Talk through your past experience and current concerns and follow his or her advice for how to tackle the work.
Coaches are also great for feedback if you’re not great at pushing your own limits (ahem, like myself). WODs are supposed to feel like a kick to the gut. Scaling the workout to make it easier when you can handle it Rx (just with some intensity), is kind of like cheating. And you only cheat yourself.
Try a Test Run
If you’re questioning part of a WOD, give it a test run. For example, if there’s a back squat weight that you’ve done, but maybe not 20 reps as the WOD is calling for, try three or four before the clock starts to see if you think you can handle it. If it seems doable, go for it, remembering that you could always scale midway through if you misjudged. If you can’t, find a weight that is doable, but again, not easy.
Swallow Your Pride
I don’t consider myself a sexist beyond the fact that women are better than men (kidding…sort of), but this next tip is probably more geared toward the males.
I don’t know what it is about you boys — testosterone, inner cavemen brought on by Paleo diets, or what — but many of you seem to think you have to do as much as the guy standing next to you. It doesn’t seem to matter that that guy has 50 pounds of muscle on you and has been doing CrossFit for two years versus your two weeks. No, why would it (sarcasm)?
In these situations, I beg of you to suck it up and scale. Even if that guy calls you a “Sally” (and if he does, that’s not very CrossFit of him), do not do Rx just because that’s his WOD plan. When you’re lying in a body cast (exaggeration for a reason), you’ll remember this tip and wonder why you didn’t listen to me (much like how my husband feels every day… and no, he really doesn’t read my writing.)