To “Rx” or not to “Rx”

Written by: Stephanie Nickitas

What is the Rx anyways and why is it there?

Rx is another way to say, “As Prescribed”. The Rx is a way for the programmer to provide a context for the stimulus of a workout. (more on this later) Just because there is a suggested Rx for a workout, it doesn’t mean that everyone should be attempting it. But, many people are competitive in nature which drives them to make certain decisions that may not be in their best interest. They may also see other people doing it and say to themselves, “I should be able to do that as well.” This way of thinking can hinder a person’s development and in the worst case, it can lead to injury.

Some gyms have completely done away with having an Rx for workouts in order to avoid some of the scenarios above. While I find that idea to have some merit, I’m not at the point of completely eliminating the Rx at CFWP. But, what you will see and hear, is our staff educating you on what works for YOU and what is the best choice for YOU in regards to your fitness level and goals.

Let’s analyze this a bit more in depth.

Workouts are written with a certain goal and stimulus in mind. Some workouts are meant to be short and fast while others might be long and slow. There are a variety of ways to make a workout more difficult, such as using a higher skill movement (think chest to bar pull-up vs chin over bar pull-up) or stating that a certain weight “should” be used on the barbell or dumbbells.

Let’s look at the classic workout, Diane. It’s 21-15-9 reps of deadlifts and handstand push-ups, for time, as fast as possible. To complete this workout as “Rx” one must be able to do 45 reps of deadlifts at 225lbs for men and 155lbs for ladies and 45 total reps of handstand push-ups. It is meant to be done relatively unbroken without rest between movements. Many top athletes can complete it in 3 minutes or less.

For advanced athletes, 225/155 is around 50-60% of their one rep max deadlift and they can move that weight easily through the sets. If 225/155 is closer to 70-90% of your one rep max, then yes, you can probably lift that weight a few times safely. But, it’s absolutely not a good idea to try to lift it 45 times with speed in mind.

And, maybe you have just developed a few kipping handstand push-ups or can do a few small sets of strict handstand push-ups. This does not mean you should be attempting 45 reps in a workout for time. You will be much better served doing decline push-ups or hand release push-ups. This will help save your cervical spine AND keep you moving at an efficient pace.

So, if your coach suggests going with 165/115 on the barbell and hand release push-ups, please listen! The goal is to be able to keep the proper level of intensity and reach the desired stimulus and time domain. More importantly this will help you avoid injury.

It is important NOT to define yourself or your workout based on whether or not you clicked the Rx button. Rule number one on the CFWP Top Ten list references this point.

Leave Your Ego at the Door – “The ego is the single biggest obstruction to the achievement of anything.” -Richard Rose. Our aim is to ensure that you’re perfecting the movements before increasing the intensity. We ask all members to respect our judgment – we are not trying to hold you back; we just want you to progress in the most safe and efficient way. Scaling back a workout when necessary is intelligent, not weak.

We want you to set goals and have something you are working towards. We are here to help you achieve those goals, but we do not want you to sacrifice mechanics, technique, and safety for the wrong reasons.

Fitness is a lifelong journey and isn’t defined by one or two workouts. Keep the big picture in mind and think about how you want to look and feel 10, 20, 30 years from now. Will Rx-ing a workout today really matter if you can’t pick up your grandkids when you are 80 years old because you blew your back out pulling an overly heavy deadlift?

Keep things in perspective, enjoy the process, work hard, have fun and come back again tomorrow, then next day, and the next day after that.

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