Scaling 101

Question: “The WOD says ‘100 Burpees for time’, but I can only do 50. What do I do?”

The answer is “scale”.

Scaling is taking the suggested WOD and modifying it to your ability level.

Some Things

Sometimes WODs will automatically scale. For example, if the WOD calls for “Burpee – 5min AMRAP (as many reps as possible)” one athlete may do 100, another may do 25. Both of them worked at their maximum capacity for 5 minutes, they only differed in reps performed.

In modifying the wods, tt will take some honest self-knowledge, thinking, and experience to scale these WODs. Do it to it. Think “what can I accomplish while working at a high intensity?” Scale the WOD so that it challenges you and causes you to be better than the WOD before…but this doesn’t mean attempting 300 pushups when you can only do ten.

The most basic cue to consider when scaling a WOD is “keep moving”.


Ways to Scale

In each example, I’ll be using 4 sets of 25 pushups as a simple example.

Scaling the Movement

To scale the WOD down (make it easier):

a) 25 pushups on a object that places the hands higher than the feet, i.e. pushing off a chair or table
b) 25 pushups from the knees
c) half of the pushups as “strict” pushups and the other half from the knees.
To scale the WOD up (make it harder):

a) 25 pike pushups
b) 25 pushups with the feet on a box (half-handstand pushups)
c) 25 handstand pushups

Scaling the reps

To scale the WOD down, simply decrease the repetitions. If I know that I can only do one set of 25 pushups before I will fall on my face, I might attempt 4 rounds of 15 pushups instead.

To scale the WOD up, simply increase the repetitions.  This will take some thought, too. For example, if an athlete says, “Pssh, I will do 50 pushups for 4 rounds”, but it takes 5 minutes for them to recover  inbetween each round, or they need to break each round up into many smaller sections, the intensity level of the WOD will decrease, even if they feel they are working harder.

Scaling the Rounds

To scale down, decrease the number of rounds. Instead of doing 4 rounds of 25 pushups, consider doing three. Typically, if you need to go less than three rounds, you would be better off scaling the repetitions.


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