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Time Caps, Scaling and Why They Matter.

You’ve torn a callus and pushed through the pain. You’re drenched in sweat and, despite it all, feel mentally strong. There’s two minutes left and two rounds to go. You’re invested. You’re going to finish this workout, to hell with the time cap!

As a guy who loves to test his limits and compete, I get this. I understand what it’s like to grind to the end of an epic workout. I appreciate the strange mix of pain, euphoria and accomplishment. It’s something that’s uniquely CrossFit and something that keeps us coming back for more. But is grinding along, regardless of intent, the right thing to do?

My desires aside, I understand that every workout we do has an objective. Every workout is programmed with certain factors in mind: task vs time priority, loading, movements and how much rest – if any – an athlete should have. This all contributes to the response we are trying to elicit. This is the intent. If I disregard a time cap just to say I finished a workout, did I meet the intent or am I simply feeding my ego? If anything, I compromised the objective and robbed myself of an opportunity to get more fit.

I know it’s easy to get caught up in the heat of the moment – I’ve been there – but understand that we have a long-term plan when it comes to programming. The time cap is in place for a reason and it’s not a black mark on your record if you don’t complete a workout. It’s a snapshot of where you’re at on a given day and nothing to be discouraged by. Use it as motivation. Respect the process.

Slow your roll Steve, today’s workout doesn’t have a time cap. I’ve looked at the weights, the movements and they are all in my wheelhouse. I’ll likely be working when everyone else is done but I want that challenge. I want to go Rx.

Let me just say that whether it’s a chipper, 5 rounds for time or a classic CrossFit benchmark there is a desired training response and we still need to be mindful of how we approach these WODs. If it’s taking you 12 minutes to do 21-15-9 thrusters and pull-ups, chances are you’re resting as much as you’re working. Intensity has gone out the window and we’re missing the intent of that particular workout.

It’s a rite of passage to go Rx and I want you to challenge yourself. I want to high five you and cheer after you’ve collapsed in a quivering, sweating mess under the pull-up rig. I really do. More than anything, however, I want to see you train smartly. I want to see you reach your goals.

Instead of going Rx for the sake of it, ask how a WOD should feel and make choices that will allow you to work toward the prescribed intensity. It may be jumping pull-ups and empty bar thrusters. Embrace that. Push the pace and attack the workout. The intensity will be there, I guarantee it. In the end, making those choices will keep you healthy and do more for your overall fitness than a 12 minute Fran time.

Remember, scaling isn’t a dirty word. It’s one way that we can help you achieve tangible, meaningful results. It’s a tool to use in your quest to be the best version of you.

To any of you reading this, I put out this challenge: consider the intent of your workout each day and make thoughtful decisions. Then, at the end of your workout, as yourself how you felt. Was it a grind or was it a fun, competitive experience that has you eager for more?


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