For the uninitiated, “Going Rx” means completing the workout “as prescribed” or “as written” without any adjustments to weights or movements. There are many athletes out there who pride themselves as being an “Rx Athlete.” But what does this really mean? Is this something we should strive for?
In a word, no. You can absolutely have a long and enjoyable fitness journey and never give two flying fudgesickles if you learn Rx movements like double unders or muscle ups. You can hit the gym, get a good sweat in, chat with your coach about weights they recommend for you, and never worry about Rx.
What I suggest we focus on instead of “Going Rx” is hitting the appropriate stimulus of the workout. The workout stimulus can be defined as the level of intensity athletes should reach in order to get the most benefit from the programmed workout. Is it supposed to feel heavy and done as singles? Or light and unbroken? Should I be able to hit the reps in 2-3 sets?
During the whiteboard chat before that day’s workout, your coach will describe the intended stimulus for the workout to give you a sense of what you should be striving for. They’ll let you know if the weight should feel light, moderate, or heavy, and what kind of rep scheme you should aim for in the workout. After you’ve been training for a while you’ll soon get a sense of where you fall relative to the Rx weight on the board. And of course, if you’re not sure you can absolutely ask the coach for a recommendation of what weight you should choose. They’ll often make a recommendation, ask how it felt, and then we can adjust accordingly.
Let’s take the workout “Isabel” for example. Isabel is 30 snatches for time at 135 lbs for men and 95 lbs for women. Now, my one rep max snatch is 105 lbs. Could I do 30 snatches for time at 95 lbs? I probably could, but it would take me a looooong time because I’d need to rest a while between each rep. “Isabel” is supposed to be a short workout, ideally under 5 minutes. If I were to try and complete “Isabel” as prescribed, I would miss the stimulus of the workout entirely. Therefore, I should scale the weight in order to get the most out of this workout for my individual fitness level.
Now, I’m not saying we should throw out Rx entirely. In competitions it’s crucial that all athletes are meeting the standard for that division and aren’t playing with apples and oranges so to speak. And for those of us drinking the cool-aid, it can be fun to challenge ourselves to get new movements like those pesky double unders. But for your average Joe or Jane just looking to get a workout in, going Rx shouldn’t be the main goal. Hitting the stimulus in the workout is cooler than hitting Rx in SugarWOD.