CrossFit is renowned for its intense and varied workouts, often pushing athletes to their limits. However, for many newcomers and even experienced athletes, the perception of CrossFit as overly demanding can be really intimidating. 

This is where the concept of scaling comes into play. Scaling workouts ensures that CrossFit remains inclusive and accessible to individuals of all fitness levels.

If you’re unsure whether CrossFit is for you, hopefully this guide will help to show all the options available to scale any workout, to make joining a CrossFit gym seem less daunting.


What is Scaling in CrossFit?

Scaling in CrossFit involves modifying the intensity, volume, or movements of a workout to suit an individual’s current fitness level and abilities. It ensures that workouts are challenging yet achievable, promoting progression and reducing the risk of injury. Whether you’re a beginner, recovering from an injury, or simply working around time constraints, scaling allows you to participate fully and safely.


Why Scale Workouts?

Inclusivity – Scaling makes CrossFit accessible to everyone, from beginners to elite athletes, ensuring that everyone can benefit from the workout.

Safety – Adjusting workouts to match your fitness level helps prevent injuries, allowing you to progress at a sustainable pace that’s right for you!.

Progression – Scaling allows you to build strength, endurance, and technique gradually, leading to consistent and long-term improvement.

Motivation – Successfully completing a scaled workout can boost your confidence and keep you motivated to continue training.


Who Should Scale Workouts?

EVERYONE!  Speak to your CF Coach.


Key Principles of Scaling

Scaling workouts involves several key principles to ensure they are tailored to individual needs and goals. 

Individualisation is essential, as it allows workouts to be customised to suit personal capabilities and objectives. Understanding what works for one person may not be suitable for another is one of the core principles of CrossFit. 

Intensity must be adjusted to match the individual’s fitness level, encouraging them to push their limits safely. 

Volume involves modifying the number of repetitions, sets, or duration to align with the individual’s current capacity. 

Movement Modifications are crucial, substituting complex movements with simpler ones that achieve the same workout intent and target the appropriate muscle groups. 

All of these modifications can be made but need to be inline with the key focus or goal to make sure that they fit with the workout aim, whether that’s to improve cardiovascular fitness or strength.


How to Scale Different Workouts

Gymnastics Workouts – Build strength first. Start with movements that you can perform with good form for multiple repetitions. Gradually progress to more challenging variations.

Example: If you’re working on pull-ups, start with ring rows or band-assisted pull-ups and progress to strict pull-ups over time.

Strength Workouts – Adjust the weight to ensure you can perform the movements safely and effectively. The goal is to build strength progressively adding more load as the technique is properly performed .

Example: For a workout like “Isabel” (30 snatches for time), if the prescribed weight is too heavy, reduce the load to a weight that allows you to maintain proper form and complete the workout within a reasonable time frame. 

Metabolic Conditioning (MetCon) Workouts – Scale the intensity and volume to match your endurance level. Focus on maintaining a steady pace throughout the workout.

Example: For a workout involving running, deadlifts, and press ups, you might shorten the run distance, reduce the deadlift weight, or perform press ups on an elevated surface or on your knees.


Knowing when to progressively scale

While scaling is crucial, there are times when challenging yourself with higher intensity can be really beneficial. This is known as progressive scaling. If you’ve mastered the movements and feel confident, try performing the workout as prescribed (Rx) occasionally to test your limits. Remember, to listen to your body and avoid pushing to the point of compromising form or risking injury.


There will be movements and workout types which you will be performing better at, and as everyone is different this is something only the athlete can know when the right time is. If you don’t push yourself however, you will find yourself not progressing as much as you would like (something to bear in mind!)


Scaling workouts is what makes CrossFit inclusive, ensuring that everyone can participate and benefit from the program. By understanding scaling and applying it to your workouts you can safely progress and build confidence all whilst actually enjoying CrossFit


Remember, the goal is not just to complete the workout but to do it in a way that promotes long-term health and fitness. CrossFit is for everyone, and with scaling, you can make it your own.


Join Us and Get Started

So no matter what fitness or ability level you are at, you’ll be able to join CrossFit!


If you want to try it, our community is here to support you every step of the way. Come and try a free trial session to see how you can get started and start progressing!