Don’t fear the mod.


Don’t fear the mod.

Shortness of breath. Palpitations. Tight Chest. COVID symptoms?

Nope…just the way your body reacts when it knows you are going to get a notification from SugarWOD that tomorrow’s WOD has been announced.

Now it is time for analysis. What are the movements? Are they in my wheelhouse? Can I even do them? Or do I have to …. don’t say it….MODIFY.

How did modification or scaling become so negative? Do we assume that we are all stellar athletes who can easily navigate every workout set forth?

I am a small business owner/ Coach/High School “Uber” Driver/Wife/ Mom/Chef/scheduler of all things needed to be done. I work out in 1 class a day and have not carved out time in my schedule to train my weaknesses. I don’t have to count sheep at night…I am counting my goats. HSPU, muscle ups, that weird jump you do going from on your knees to a squat. Why aren’t I RX’ing every WOD?

What does modification mean anyway? Is there a better word? If I am modifying something that means I am not doing it as prescribed. It is not done EXACTLY as it is written on the board. With this idea, I have modified EVERY single online recipe I have ever made. Many times, it still comes out delicious. Or, my family doesn’t seem to know the difference. I am not switching out apples for onions, or ground beef for broccoli. I am adjusting to what I have on hand to get the intended result.

What I have on hand could be an injury, an overuse issue, and even a bad attitude (don’t take this the wrong way – more on this later.)

You might have an injury from movement, from sports years ago, or just a random accident. They happen. That doesn’t mean the other 95% of your body is on vacation. We can modify movement to compliment the body parts that you do have working. For example, one of our athletes is recovering from ACL surgery. Once she was cleared, her upper body started getting back into the swing of things – lots of pressing, core work and of course the physical therapy recommended by her medical team. A week or two ago we added in some rowing. Propping up her leg on the seat of another rower allowed her to keep her leg straight and be able to row at the same time. This is a modification.

If your job tends to be very physical, your repetitive movements might be causing some overuse issues that can be compounded when you get to the gym. Make sure you communicate with your coach what is going on. Hanging on the bar for toes to bar doesn’t feel great, so maybe the supine leg lift is a better option. For today. Then we can see how tomorrow feels. I will tell you how tomorrow feels – SORE ABS! Supine leg lifts aren’t necessarily an easier movement and modified doesn’t mean easier.

The word modification is not interchangeable with “easier movement,” so get that out of your head. It is another training movement. Training to create forward motion towards other training movements.

Workouts don’t always fly to us on the wings of angels, perfect in time domain and structure. They are well thought out, balanced and challenging in different ways. If you are new to CrossFit or exercising in general, most modifications will follow the steps of the progression for the movement. Each step, used in warmups, lets you (and your coach) see what level of the movement you are at. Not everyone can bang out a pull-up on their first try, much less throw 59 more in there for a workout. Progressions should help you gain strength and technique to master the movement down the road.

Modifications should keep the intended stimulus of the workout. Pushups might seem like the best modification for a burpee, same movement-ish. But the heart rate might not be the same when the workout is done. But BALL SLAMS…still working the posterior chain (backside) core and upper body while driving the heart rate through the roof. Great modification while keeping the intended stimulus of the workout.

FYI – intended stimulus – this is how we want the workout to go/feel. Should it be fast and intense or grindy and long? However it is modified, you should be finishing around the same time as everyone else. Not fun hanging out finishing under 5 minutes when the rest of the group has 15 more to go. And just because you’re new to CrossFit, or took a break, does not mean you should be finishing up 10 minutes after everyone else. Our job is to help you find your best path to achieve that intended stimulus. The best workouts are often the ones when everyone is doing something a little different, but we all finish at the same time.

Bad attitude – It is ok to come to the gym with a bad attitude. The 45 minutes you spend here should dissolve what has happened in your day. Communication is key in this situation. Once of my favorite things is when people respond to “Hey, how are you?” with an “I am here.” Clearly stating it was not the day they dreamed of, but they didn’t go home to drown their sorrows. Modifying a movement here for a win, without changing the stimulus of the workout, is absolutely fine. Just remember, this is like your celebrity hall pass. You don’t get to use the “bad attitude card” every day.

And on the bad attitude thing – try to look at your problem/issue immediately after you finish that workout. As you are laying on the ground, sweat pooling in your eyes, catching your breath, feeling your heartbeat come back to normal, take a look at that conversation with your boss or your spouse, your work issue, whatever. How does it look in the post workout bliss?

Last but not least, modifying the workout doesn’t mean you are not doing CrossFit. It does not make you less than anyone else, and it sure as hell doesn’t mean your name doesn’t deserve to be on the board with whatever score you got. The scoreboard is data, not your worth. It lets us see how we progress. Maybe today you did supine leg lifts. 2 months from now you are rocking that hollow/arch and have moved on to knees up. That is progress, baby and you don’t get that from skipping a WOD because you can’t go RX.

You are still getting fit.

You are still doing CrossFit.