What's the Rx Weight?

By Don Steinmetz

I recently ran in my 4th Rugged Maniac 5K obstacle race with a group of CFTH athletes and friends.  Near the end of the race, I misjudged one of the obstacles and fell down onto my ribs.  I was having so much fun and was so close to the end that I ignored the pain and kept going to finish the race with our team.  A few hours later the pain started setting in and it was pretty bad, to the point where it hurt to take a deep breath.  After confirming my ribs weren't broken, I decided to take it easy for the next few days so things could heal: no workouts, no strenuous activities.  

After 4 days without a workout, my ribs were feeling a bit better.  I was itching to get back to the gym and I walked in intending to take it easy.  But when I saw the WOD, I knew that a "healthy me" could do the workout Rx, or 'as prescribed', at the suggested weights.  I let my pride take over and foolishly decided to go for it.  The result?  I ignored the discomfort I felt during the WOD and then suffered the rest of the day with intense pain similar to day 1 of my injury.  I clearly wasn't feeling like "healthy me" that day, so why did I even try to Rx the workout?

This led me to wonder: Why do people care so much about what the Rx weight or movement is for a given workout?  Is it to simply to see their score sit atop the Wodify leaderboard at the end of the day? Do they think all of their hard work means any less if it is not Rx?    Now don't get me wrong here.  It is a HUGE accomplishment when you Rx your first workout - something that you should be extremely proud of.  And to Rx workouts on a regular basis is something to aspire to.  But it is no less of an accomplishment to complete a WOD that is scaled it to the level of your current ability.  Much more important than the weight you choose for the WOD is the fact come in and leave it all on the mat.  As a coach, I want to see you moving properly and giving it 100%.  After a WOD, you should look back and be able to say 'I gave everything I had.'  That's much more important than if your name has an 'Rx' next to it on the whiteboard.

Now why did I try to Rx the workout on my first day back from an injury?  I realized that I made a poor decision for myself, as an athlete.  I would never let one of my athletes do that if they told me they had just injured themselves a few days before.  I would have them ease back into it, making sure they were moving properly and pain-free before adding load/intensity to their workout.  This is exactly what I SHOULD have done myself.  When you push yourself past reasonable limits when faced with injury, or even in regards to your current ability level, you're putting the next few weeks or months of your training at risk.  Is it worth re-injuring yourself or turning a minor discomfort into a major injury just have those two little letters next to your name?!

For my next workout, I handled things like I should have in the first place.  I scaled down my back squats by doing 3 light sets without maxing out on the last Wendler set.  I was still doing the movement with full range of motion and some weight on the bar, but without putting a ton of stress on my injury.  Then for the WOD, I scaled the weights down on my kettlebell swings and clean and jerks, but was able to do the same movements..  I still pushed myself and had a great, effective workout.  I gave everything I had that day and lived to Rx another day.