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The Rx Designation
The Rx Designation: What it has become, what it SHOULD mean to you, and what to do about it
I write this as the 2016 Opens approach, and in doing so, I hope it gives us all a different lens to view our training through so that we may all find more enjoyment in the process. Becoming a better athlete is a journey of which there is no end (but everyone has a beginning). The journey is a little different for everyone, and the end goals may all vary, but the spirit of why we train is almost always very similar: we value training, we value our health, our capacity to do work, and we find fulfillment in the process. It is with these thoughts in mind I want to broach the topic of defining the term Rx.
The term Rx has evolved into something it shouldn’t, and I’d like to take a moment to discuss it with you all in a way that can hopefully do a lot of good for everyone regarding their purpose as well as everyone’s thought process regarding their training.
In the medical community, what is a prescription, or Rx for short? A quick Google search gives me this one, among others: ‘A recommendation that is authoritatively put forward.’ I think we can do better than that—for our purposes, I like to think of a prescription as a dosage that is specific in type and quantity in order to elicit a particular response for an individual.
In the CrossFit community, what does Rx mean to us? Rather than being a dosage that is specific in TYPE and QUANTITY to elicit a particular response for an INDIVIDUAL, it has instead become a badge of honor that people will gladly renounce receiving the appropriate stimulus for a workout in order to ‘chase’ this particular designation. It is of my opinion as a strength and conditioning coach that this is an outright wrong, sometimes dangerous mindset that can be one of the biggest obstacles in the way of good training.
At CFD, I’d prefer to adopt the former definition, or the one that I suggested above. Sure, when game day comes along, standards are set and we compete. HOWEVER, 99% of the time you’re in the gym, you’re TRAINING. When you’re training, it’s important to elicit the dose response of the workout. It is NOT the time to forsake the quality of your training day so you can have 2 extra letters behind your score for the day—because that score doesn’t mean ANYTHING in the grand scheme of things!
So, listen to your coaches, grasp an understanding of the intent of the training for that day, and modify movements, weights, and quantity to elicit the right stimulus for that day. Many times this will require you to THINK and apply your brains to the decision-making process, but your safety, longevity, and progress will thank you for it! Don’t fall victim to the idea of ‘chasing Rx’ if, in turn, you lose training quality. You all work too hard for that!
As you approach the Open season, keep this concept in mind. I think we do this very well a vast majority of the time here at CFD. Many times, especially with newer athletes, the workouts written ‘as Rx’ are NOT what’s in your best interest. Rather than be discouraged about it, embrace the opportunity to grow OVER TIME, respecting and enjoying the process along the way. It’s ok to make something a goal in the future that you can’t do today—it’s what drives us and is how we progress! After all, if it were such an easy sport that it could be mastered quickly, would it be as fun?