Load/Resistance – Movement – Range Of Motion

Scaling a workout is tough and sometimes you have to be pretty creative all dependent upon the situation you and your athlete find yourself.

The goal of this post is to give you more of a template or system to follow when you need to scale a workout, for you or your athletes. There are so many limiting factors that can come up at any point, and having a system to address scaling a workout has helped me coach and train my athletes successfully.

Before we get started, I am going to make an assumption, although dangerous, that there is a FULL understanding behind the design of any given workout. You need to have an idea how long a “task” oriented workout is going to take and how many reps/rounds you are shooting for in a “time” oriented workout.

Task Workouts = Any workout where the amount of work is controlled and score is time – “Complete X Rounds of ABC for Time”

Time Workouts = Any workout where the time is controlled and the score is reps or rounds. AMRAPs, tabatas, intervals etc.

As long as you know Fran is supposed to be 6 minutes-ish or less and Fight Gone Bad should be 210+ish the system I’m about to share should translate very quickly and easily into your day to day.

Load/Resistance – Movement – Range of Motion

Your first scaling option – Load or Resistance.

This one is the obvious one and most common. Lighten the load so you can safely perform the workout as it is designed.

The battle  is always ego. People like heavy. People like the RX next to their name. Can the athlete safely execute the movement in the time domain of the workout? If yes, then you have scaled perfectly.

This goes for ALL movements including running and rowing! Hint: scale the distance

Your second scaling option – Movement

This one is where creativity will help. Thinking about the movement that needs to be changed your goal is to keep the range of motion, keep the joint action.

Example Hand Stand Push Ups –  The HSPU is a high skill movement so its important to have a number of scaling options. Only one AbMat is allowed in my class so I hit my athletes with a number of options. Inverted with their legs on a box, down to pike push ups. There are a few options in between, but the action remains the same.

Now keeping that last sentence in mind, what if an athlete can’t or is not comfortable being inverted? Change the movement keep the action. Flip the athlete upright and what are they doing? Strict Press. Give them a few kettle bells, dumbells or even a barbell. Choose an appropriate weight (they should finish their Strict Press around the same time as the HSPU-ers).

Ask yourself the same question… Is the athlete safely executing the movement in the time domain of the workout? Excellent.

And last, The Range-of-Motion.

This is your last resort. And there is no simple solution to scaling this one.

Generally, the masses can maintain full range of motion using the first two scales, but there will absolutely be a day where you need to scale the range of motion. This includes athletes who are hyper-mobile, not mobile at all, have injuries, have been injured, or simply body make up.

I have seen wrists that literally will not flex because the bones in the wrist were over developed and full wrist flexion was a fraction of “normal.” (Also common with people who have broken their wrists.) Look up frozen shoulder, I work with a guy on the daily with this. My girlfriend has a torn labrum in her hip and can’t squat. The list goes on, and its your responsibility to keep the athlete safe, but also get them moving.

Establish their limitations and scale the workout accordingly. The scales can vary just as much as the work outs… see what I did there?

There you go… that is the system I like to use when coaching and training. Hopefully it gives you a new idea today. Ask Questions!

Leave a Reply