Modify, Progressions & Substitutions

When you start crossfit, it can be overwhelming and sometimes daunting. You might look at the whiteboard and not understand some of the “lingo” you might see workouts or movements and think “I can’t do that”

Good news, you can! Three words you will hear a lot in crossfit that will make “ I cant do that”, into “I can do that” are; Modify, progression and substitution

We can modify the workouts to suit your fitness level, we can give you progressions to work on, for any movement you cannot yet do and we can give you substitutions for movements that might be affected by injury or skill set. 

All 3 of these options can allow you to do the workout that you felt like you weren’t be able to do. 

Modify: Change some parts, but not all. To make minor changes in. 

Progression: The process of developing over a period of time, a continuous and connected series of actions and events. 

Substitution: the act of substituting or replacing a person or thing ( In this case, movement) with another

Another word you will hear often, is “scaling” which is what you are doing if we modify the original workout in any way. When modifying a workout, we might change the rep scheme eg from 20 box jumps to 10, we might reduce the number of rounds from 5 to 3, We might modify the distance of your run from 200m to 100m. Something else we might modify is the weight that you use, eg, instead of a 16kg Kettlebell, we’d ask you to use 12kg. Scaling, loading and intensity are important. We don’t want you to RX a workout and finish 20min after everyone else. Especially as a new member, we want you to feel comfortable, included and not out of your depth. 

Progressions are what we use, to break a complex movement down. For example, Ring muscle ups, Handstand pushups or toes to bar. The progressions are like building blocks , working on one part of the movement at a time, then putting them all together. 

If your goal is getting a toes to bar, we would work on building lat strength, with some straight arm banded pull downs. Another progression we would focus on is the kipping swing, getting a smooth rhythm, then add a knee raise to the kip. We would work on v-ups on the floor, getting that core strength and getting used to that hip flexion. Once you have mastered all of these progressions, you should be a great position to put them all together and be a toes to bar master! Viola!

Substitutions are often used if an athlete has an injury, or limitation, or if a member is unable to do  a prescribed movement, such as a pull up. If a pull up is something you have not yet mastered, you might be asked to do ring rows instead. They use similar muscle groups , can still be made to be very challenging, and will help build up strength to get your first pull up.  If you have a shoulder injury and hanging from the bar isn’t an option for toes to bar, you might be given v-ups as a substitute. Substitutions keep the same focus, for example when running is programed, and you have a calf injury, you’d be given another cardio exercise, like bike or ski erg.

As a coach its really important for us to understand what your objective is, then apply one of either , “modify”, “progression” or “substitution” to help you in the best way possible. As a member, knowing the difference between these options will hopefully help you understand any changes we make to your workout, or weekly programming. 

If you have any questions or concerns, all coaches are here to help and to make your crossfit experience the best and most enjoyable it can be.

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