Prescribed: Doing the workout as written to achieve the intended stimulus.
Scaled: modifying the prescribed workout to achieve the intended stimulus.
"OMG I can’t do muscle ups this workouts going to suck" - probably you
"OMG this workout has 275lb deadlifts I’m gonna DIE!" - also you probably...
Have you ever looked at a workout and read that it includes a really high skilled gymnastics movement or a crazy heavy weight and thought "there’s no way in hell I can do that". Well I have good news! You don’t have to!
Don’t let a particular prescribed movement or weight scare you away from a workout. All workouts can be modified in endless ways to make sure everyone can do it and get the same benefits as a person doing it prescribed
Prescribed workouts are written to suit the highest level of fitness with the option to scale down depending on experience/fitness level.
If a workout is designed to be done extremely fast, then likely the weights will be on the lighter side. If the weight that is prescribed for the workout feels heavy for you, then you would simply use less weight so that you can go fast and achieve the intended stimulus.
Not only should you scale weight to achieve a specific time, but also to ensure that you are learning and maintaining good technique.
There are cases where an athlete could have the strength to use the prescribed weight but has yet to nail down the technique. This is a case where you just have to check the ego at the door and keep the weight light.
A lot of CrossFit workouts have high skills. For example: muscle-ups, handstand push-ups, handstand walks, double-unders, butterfly pull-ups, etc.
For a new athlete, these skills can take YEARS to build the strength and technique. It is up to you if you want to put in the time to learn these things and the coach will be glad to help. But it is 100% up to you and even if you have no desire to ever learn these high skills, that is totally fine!
There are plenty of substitutes for these movements that will allow you to work the same muscle groups and get a great workout!
So if you’re already doing CrossFit and are feeling down about always scaling, just know you are among the 99% of CrossFitters who have to modify the workouts. Listen to the coaches, be patient, get a little better everyday and work toward doing the workouts prescribed if you choose to.
You also might be thinking about trying CrossFit for the first time, but are worried because you can’t do the things you’ve seen done on TV or the internet. When you come into the gym, you will be surrounded by people modifying the workouts so you will not be alone. Anyone can start CrossFit at any fitness level and get safe and effective workouts in!