7 Reasons why women should train at the men’s weight – one Rx weight only!

Girls-RxDI have learned many things from Darren Coughlan, Brendon Walsh, Pip Malone and the coaches at Reebok CrossFit GCS and CrossFit Newcastle. The one thing I want to talk about today is what Rx is in the world of Give’m Cold Steel…and how it can change the way you think and change your results.

Give'm Cold Steel - Different Workouts for Different Goals

Give’m Cold Steel – Different Workouts for Different Goals

This year, I started seeing clients from a room at Reebok CrossFit GCS. I sold my practice and left there in March 2013 and started at GCS (and later at CrossFit Bodi Complete and most recently at CrossFit Scorch as well). During those early, quiet days, I got to train and watch the athletes at GCS and learn how Darren Coughlan, head honcho of the Give’m Cold Steel programs, thinks. This is the program that has seen Michele Letendre make it to the CrossFit Games 3 times, Pip Malone make it to the Games in 2013 in her first year as an individual, and team and individuals make it to the Regionals from CrossFit Newcastle and Reebok CrossFit GCS and other gyms around the world. I got a chance to observe seasoned athletes and beginners alike and have been able to watch their progress all year.

I think one of the things that has impressed me the most has been what “Rx” is.

did-i-mention-i-rx-d-it-black-text-women-s-aa_designYou see, in the CrossFit world, the usual way to write weights next to a workout is to write “(guys’ weight/girls’ weight)”. If you can complete the workout at the prescribed weight (hence the “Rx”…it is latin shorthand for “recipe” and used by medical professions as “treatment” or “prescription”), then you can write “Rx” next to your time or reps…for a beginner in CrossFit, it is one of the short to medium term goals to have – to be able to write “Rx” next to your time…you tend to remember the feeling of your first “Rx’d” workout 🙂

In the Give’m Cold Steel world, Rx is just one weight…the prescribed weight. There is no “girls” weight. Girls are expected to do the same weights. The following is **MY** interpretation of why this is good – if you want to know what Darren’s thoughts are, ask him yourself – I won’t speak for him!)

Why I think one Rx weight is best:

  1. If you can’t do “Rx”, you are scaling. The goal for athletes training in CrossFit is to train at Rx with good Mechanics, Consistency, Intensity. You work on your technique until it is sound and reproducible and then you increase the weights until you can do the workouts Rx’d. Therefore, the expectation for doing Fran Rx is actually 43kg, not 30kg for girls.
  2. If you train this way, the expectation is simply that you will have to keep getting stronger to be able to do it Rx’d. Expectations are strong things. Obviously you should train to the level of your ability. But now, your expectation is that will eventually become strong enough to do the workout at Rx – become stronger and doing it heavier than most girls are training for. I used to suck at 24kg kettlebell swings (KBS). I wanted to do 21 unbroken KBS during a workout called “Helen”. Guess how I achieved it? I started swinging a 32kg kettlebell! I figured that if I could do 21x32kg KBS then 3 rounds of 21kg KBS at 24kg would feel pretty easy…and it was! It wasn’t overnight, I just started with 5 reps of 32kg KBS until I got to 10, 15, 21 etc 🙂
  3. Guys and girls are equal – they might have some physical differences but why limit the training? We have competitions and a female category to test the women. If you want an edge and better results, set your expectations and your training at a level higher than your competitors and you will find that the “girls'” weight will be quite easy compared to training – thank me (and Darren) later! I have the good fortune to watch some good athletes training – nothing inspires awe and fear when watching someone half your size doing overhead squats or snatch or clean and jerk at weights heavier than you…it doesn’t matter if you are a guy or a girl. Everyone is respected because they are trying their best. The top level athletes are being watched by the “average” people…the attitude of the girls and watching them keep increasing their weights over time inspires others to keep training hard and increase their weights as well.
  4. You can be a big fish in a small pond…why not be a big fish in a big pond? Most girls are training in gyms where they only train up to Rx for the girls weight. Then they try to go faster at that Rx weight. Why not increase the weight a little and NOT come first for a little while…when you get to a competition, those lighter weights will feel quite comfortable and a smaller % of your total strength and that should translate into better local competition results.
  5. I would love to try an experiment… here it is – if you do this, let me know what the results are… Do something like “Grace” or “Isabel” (30 clean and jerk/30 snatches for time) at whatever weight you currently do that workout at. Now, if you can, try do the workout at a weight a bit heavier – 5kg? 10kg? Do that a couple of times a week for 6 weeks then retry your Grace/Isabel workout at the original weight… It should feel a helluva lot easier and you should have a faster time.
  6. Training so your total strength is increased can only occur if you keep putting the weights up… After a while, this will become hard to do and there are other aspects of training to consider – what good is a 135lbs Fran time of 15mins – it is meant to be a sprint, not a chipper! So make sure you understand the purpose of a workout…just increase the weights a little bit because you expect you will be able to!
  7. As my friend Al Howard is fond of telling me, sometimes the limitation is not physical but mental. If the culture and expectation around you is that you will keep putting the weights up and everyone around you is doing that, then you will also do that too (safely and in consultation with your coach of course!). So mentally move the goal posts. You can do it. I know you can. And when you can do it and you have a world class Fran time, then consider doing it heavier than 95lbs – go for “fat Fran” and do it at a heavier weight.

Mechanism-of-challenge-page-imageMy challenge to you for 2014

My challenge for you girls that can already train at the girl’s Rx weight…start progressing towards the guy’s weight – you will be surprised at how much better you will get. You trained hard to get to that magical moment when you could write “Rx” next to your name…take that same motivation and train for the men’s Rx weight. I know it works – go get some!

For the girls still training to get the girl’s Rx weight – that is simply a medium term goal…the long-term goal is to get the men’s Rx weight as your workout weight!

For the guys who are training Rx – just go a bit heavier. You have been trying to go faster for a while now and not making much progress? Maybe you just need to change your training up and go heavier and a bit slower and build your speed up with the heavier weight.

If you have any stories or personal experiences to share, please leave a comment below – thank you!

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About Antony Lo
Antony Lo is an APA Musculoskeletal Physiotherapist based in Sydney. His website is www.MyPhysios.com.au. He specializes in the management, treatment and prevention of pain and dysfunction, particularly of the pelvis and ribcage. His sub-specialties include Crossfit and Exercise Performance Optimization, Ante-Natal and Post-Natal Care and difficult cases that have failed treatment elsewhere.

One Response to 7 Reasons why women should train at the men’s weight – one Rx weight only!

  1. Pingback: Tuesday 12/31/13 - 15 Things I Wish I Knew When I Started CrossFit

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