Why 'RX' Doesn't Matter

What Winning The Workout Really Means

CrossFit is an ever-evolving sport with little boundaries or even rules for how the game is played. The only thing we do know as a CrossFit athlete is to expect the unexpected and always train for the unknown.

If that statement doesn’t send you into a tailspin. . . you are much wiser than I.

‘Expecting the unexpected’ is ironic, but much easier to digest than ‘train for the unknown’. How on earth does one do such a thing . . . . literally, train for EVERYTHING?

OG CrossFit was raw and dirty. There were no fancy programmers, scientific training programs, or case studies to determine what works or what didn’t so we followed a system of benchmarks to aspire to . . . it was called Rx.

When I started CrossFit in 2008, every workout was written with the workout in mind, not the athlete.

What I mean by that is . . . workouts were ideological in a way. It was more about the workout and it’s prescribed (Rx) loads than the athlete completing the workout. Rx was a status symbol, an identity. If you could Rx a workout, you were making it as a CrossFitter.

I am not going to lie. . . I still remember how it felt to be an Rx athlete in the gym. It felt AWESOME! Because not only did I get the recognition of being a badass, but I knew that everyone else knew that I was an Rx Badass (and who doesn’t like that ego stroke?). BUT was Rx really helping me become a better athlete?

The answer is no . . . it was never about me. . . it was about the workout.

Fast forward to today . . . where the focus is on the athlete. To get an athlete better at this sport where you must be good at EVERYTHING, you need a plan, a coach, a program, accountability, and support. Doing a workout that was intended to be aerobically, but was performed anaerobically because I wanted to get that Rx written by my name is not going to cut it.

Think about it. To get good in all of these domains, you need a plan, and unless you have done extensive studies in programming, anatomy, kinesiology, biomechanics, weightlifting, gymnastics, running, swimming, rowing, etc. . . you are probably not equipped to formulate a program. So you need a coach to provide direction.

The times have changed and as an athlete, we are expected to train smart, training hard isn’t enough. This is where ‘Rx’ has become irrelevant in training. Don’t freak out . . . Rx is not dead, it’s just shouldn’t be as important as it once was. Programming to Rx is unnecessary in a day to day training program. It is still important in testing and competition, but let’s face it . . . that is only a few times a year.

Take this for example:

Thruster (95/65)

The workout ‘Fran’ has a prescribed weight, and when used as testing it is a great gauge for improvement, but if this was just a workout programmed in your daily WOD the Rx is irrelevant. We all know Fran is intended to be a very quick workout with fast turnover and little to no rest. If this was not Fran for testing purposes, but just the WOD, then athletes should not focus on the load but rather the intention of the workout.

The reason it was programmed in the WOD was to hit a particular metabolic pathway, intensity, and time domain. Therefore, when choosing a load, you have to put your Rx ego aside, and choose a weight that will allow you to complete the workout with the above intentions . . . Remember we are CrossFit athletes - we must go hard and train even smarter.

Next time you feel the urge to feed the Rx ego, ask yourself, what are you training for? If you can answer this question, you may need to take a big bite of humble pie, choose wisely, then go HAM! If you don’t, your competitor will.

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About the Author

Stephanie McCarthy

Stephanie McCarthy

Stephanie's career in fitness started almost a decade ago after graduating with a degree in Applied Physiology and Kinesiology from the University of Florida. Over the years she's gained invaluable experience as a business owner and dedicated coach to hundreds of athletes. CrossFit has given her the opportunity to compete with incredible athletes around the country at the Regional and Games level.


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