Why do we scale?
Scaling is a fundamental tool for safe, effective, and appropriate exercise prescription. It enables coaches to adapt an exercise according to the functional level of the class, without detracting from the stimulus of the session/workout. It is not and should never be viewed as a mechanism to make something easier but rather, a tool to match the functional capabilities of the athlete.
So, what is scaling?
Scaling is the process of changing or adapting an exercise according to individual need. We may adapt an exercise due to range of motion deficits, injury, level of function, strength, or fitness ability. Scaling allows coaches to maintain the intensity or stimulus of the session, whilst providing a session that is equitable and inclusive. For example, athlete A and athlete B have both been asked to complete 10 lunges. Athlete A can complete 10 lunges and has sufficient range of motion to bring the back knee to the floor. Athlete B has some issues with balance due to a long-term illness and has additional movement limitations. Athlete B completes the lunge with a block under the back knee and uses a rig or wall for support. Both complete 10 repetitions.
Why does scaling promote inclusivity?
Scaling allows us the opportunity to provide the same class experience, and the same training stimulus to all those involved. The beauty of functional fitness is that all movements are adaptable, and we can take a simple exercise and manipulate the basic principles so everyone is benefitting from the activity. It also allows us to maintain the community environment, without isolating or separating individuals from the group.
For those who don’t feel confident, or fear “looking stupid” (we hear this a lot), scaling gives them an option which is achievable and can help increase confidence, which is a fantastic tool for retention and adherence. Importantly, our scaling options can continuously change in a progressive manner as the athlete improves. This can, in turn, facilitate confidence and growth in your groups.
There is not a “one-size fits all” approach to scaling. Most new clients/athletes arrive with a good understanding of their functional capacity without the need for extensive testing. For example, if a new athlete tells you they find it hard to remove objects from a high cupboard, they may be indicating they have range of motion issues at the shoulder. Thus, we know that overhead movements may need to be scaled. Or they may indicate they can’t bend down to put a shoe on, therefore hinge movements should be a focussed area for scaling.
Scaling is an important feature of our FiiT for Life classes. It means that our classes remain accessible, and we can continue to fight chronic disease with CrossFit.