“Rx” is Arbitrary, empty and meaningless

Jeroen van Duijn

“Rx” is Arbitrary, empty and meaningless

In my years as a coach, I have seen countless athletes list their goal as: “To be able to do all of the workouts Rx.”

Because of this, I have witnessed many of these same athletes then stubbornly and forcefully attempt workouts as prescribed when they had no business doing so.

The result: These athletes end up lifting loads and attempting skills (usually during conditioning workouts) before they have achieved the prerequisite skill or strength, or at the very least, they end up missing the mark on the intended stimulus of the day. Either way, their performance and long-term fitness suffer because of their sentimental desire to try a workout as prescribed.

(Be warned: I’m about to break your heart):

Repeat after me: “Rx is arbitrary, empty and meaningless!”

…Rx is arbitrary, empty and meaningless. Rx is arbitrary, empty and meaningless…OK, you get the point.

So… stop using the Rx version of the workout to guide your decisions!

Where did Rx come from anyway?

Essentially “Rx” was created so workouts could be measurable and repeatable, and basically, so people could compete head-to-head against each other in CrossFit workouts.  But as the Sport of Fitness has evolved over the last decade and a half, so too has the Rx line.

A workout like “Amanda,” for example—9-7-5 of 61/43 kg squat snatches and ring muscle-ups—was considered heavy and high-skilled when it was first introduced at the CrossFit Games in 2010. Hardly any athlete, man or woman, finished the workout in the very generous time cap. Today, top athletes can easily sprint through Amanda unbroken in three minutes or less.

And here’s the other thing: I could create a workout that even the fittest athletes in the world would have to scale: Let’s say a version of Diane—21-15-9 of deadlifts and handstand push-ups—but increased to 250 kg deadlifts for men and 160kg for women. Insane to even consider it, yes, but even Katrin Davidsdottir wouldn’t be foolish enough to try it (I don’t think).

So the next time you get all sentimental about doing workouts “as prescribed,”—and you feel tempted to pout when we tell you to reduce the load on your bar—consider the idea that this “Rx goal” you’re chasing isn’t a real goal at all. It’s an arbitrary and constantly changing line that’s going to keep changing as the best athletes in the world become more fit.

Isn’t it better to stop comparing yourself to the best in the world and focus instead on your own fitness?

In doing this, you’re more likely to select appropriate movements and loads that will help you continue to move forward on your personal fitness journey.