By: Matthew LeBaron

Movement standards– a set of points of performance on a movement or lift that must be met. In a scored workout these standards must be met for that movement to count as “RX”.

RX – when a workout or “WOD” is performed “RX’d”, that means the athlete performs all modalities using the prescribed weight and reps. And usually means a star at our gym.

If you’ve taken a class with me, you know I rarely let you get away with crummy reps. The standards are what matter. I don’t care if you can back squat 300lbs, if you can’t do an air squat in the met con and hit below parallel every time – what’s the point? Mobility and injuries or impingements aside of course.

When I walk in each day and look at the board and see the days scores for the workout, sometimes there are blanks, but very rarely. You know we’re big on tracking your progress at Brick. More often there are some scores that simply don’t make no sense, seem impossible, or give the impression that standards were/are being compromised. What many people don’t realize, however, is that your score is a combination of not only what weight or movements (prescribed “RX” or not) you chose to do or scale – but HOW you do them also known as – the Movement Standards.

I know you may not want to hear this guys and gals, but scores are taking importance over the very standards they are supposed to be based on. It is my goal to get us to start taking the standards more seriously then our scores.

So put the ego in your pocket, if you choose to read on.

Let’s start with why we post scores up in the first place.

From a COACHING point-of-view:

It gives us an understanding of the average times, weight loads, and general effect of the workout on the athletes throughout the class(es), giving us more knowledge on approach and RPE (rate of perceived effort) intended. It also helps us understand appropriate scaling as well as giving other coaches context for how to coach their class.

As an ATHLETE:

Our scores help us gain perspective on our growth, from day to day, week to week, and so on.  It allows us to understand where we need to put in more work on technique and strength, and where we excel – helping us strike a balance between speed, power, endurance and skill.

Then the COMMUNITY aspect:

How did our fellow athletes approach and accomplish the workout? Seeing our peer’s score helps us understand and give us insight into how to approach the workout while also giving us something to chase/strive for. This is usually that last little push we need to get out of our comfort zone.

Next, let’s discuss what doing the workout “RX’d” means. Not just the definition, but what does it mean to you – and why?

From the moment a new athlete steps foot into a CrossFit or BFit (our strength + conditioning class minus the Olympic lifts), they see that word “RX” and the people doing it and ask “what does that mean?”.

As coaches, we explain that this is simply a suggested prescription on weight and movements meant to give a specific stimulus to the athlete. Those weight numbers seem intimidating and I’ve heard a million times – “that is not going to be me any time soon” — and that is okay. Actually I prefer it. I don’t want you just jumping in and doing the RX weights because the board says it.

Any good coach will encourage you to get the movement standards down before hitting it RX.

But often times, the community aspect breeds a competitiveness that can deter athletes from taking the (often long) steps needed to get to the point of performing RX. You start kipping before you have a strict pull up – just to do the workout RX. You do a 135/115 lb Power Clean + Jerk before your mechanics/technique are strong – just to do the workout RX.

This is where things get muddy. Athletes put the movements/weights as the thing to strive for, not the standard. All for a star next to a score… because we’re putting the score over the standard.

I’m not sure when we got so lost in the importance of these scores and whether we’re doing it RX, but its compromised the foundation of what we are doing. To conclude, I have some thoughts on how you can be more mindful of your movement standards in class and put a score up that matches those standards.

    1. When you get to class, put your phone away and listen to the coach explain the movements, even if you “know them perfectly.” Not only for the strength/WOD. Pay close attention to the warm up. Because if you’re not going to warm up with purpose and a focus on standards, chances are the rest of your workout will be the same. Make every movement count.
    2. Ask yourself: am I doing what is written? For example, I see athletes told to do a deadlift at 50% of their 1RM, and there is 275 on the bar. I don’t know many folks with a 500 lb+ deadlift. Why do you suppose they are doing that? Again, because the motivation is coming from the ego, plain and simple.
    3. Should I be doing RX? Not can you, but should you? What I mean by this is similar to my example above. Just because you can manage 185/155lbs from the ground into a clean and jerk, doesn’t mean you should. Can you do it properly, move efficiently and at the same time keep the integrity of the lift and you’re body safe.

I could go on, but I think this is a good place to start.

Next time you consider doing the RX movement, ask yourself these questions, and see what matters more to you: scores or standards? You may surprise yourself. Or, if you’re nearing the end of a workout and you’re two reps shy of beating that swole mate, but don’t hit those standards – don’t count the rep. Don’t count any that you miss. It will build integrity in and outside the gym.

And don’t get me wrong, this is being written from a place of experience on both sides of the equation. I hope my perspective can save you from mediocrity and/or injury.