Scaling..what did you just call me??

Miscommunication is a killer. Literally.

There are thousands of known instances where miscommunication has lead to senseless tragedy and the loss of lives. Let’s pick a big one.

In world war 2, the Japanese were asked if they would surrender, and they responded with the word “mokusatsu

The literal translation of this was “we withhold comment, pending discussion” but the translation that the United States received was closer to “ we are treating your message with contempt”.

So what happened?

The first and only time in the history of the world that nuclear weapons were used in warfare.

Pretty big miscommunication, right?

So we already know how important communicating our intent and meaning is when we relate to others, especially if they are likely to misinterpret our meaning.

I think I’m pretty good at communication, I mean I talk to people for a living and explain movements and concepts.

And yet….

….the look I get when I am coaching someone in a class or in person setting and I suggest that they scale back a movement or conditioning piece…if looks did have the ability to kill, I would be in real trouble on a regular basis. So how has this come about?

Am I doing such a poor job of miscommunication what it means to scale a workout? Or do we just have scaling all misunderstood?




gerund or present participle: scaling

  1. 1. climb up or over (something high and steep)."thieves scaled a high fence"

  2. 2. represent in proportional dimensions; reduce or increase in size according to a common scale.

  • (of a quantity or property) be variable according to a particular scale.

Maybe these people think I’m asking them to climb something…that would be understandable, that is the first definition of the word that pops up, and I’m not a big fan of heights so I might look at someone with the famous death stare if they suggested I do that instead of a nice fun workout with heavy thrusters and burpees.

But I am pretty sure they understand I am actually referring to the second definition: “reduce or increase in size according to a common scale”

My mum always told me, just because I can do something, doesn’t mean I should.

I can eat a whole box of cereal and then polish off a pack of Pop Tarts..but it probably isn’t good for me to do that.

I can thruster 60 kilograms…but it’s probably not a good idea for me to try to tackle 100 of them in a workout like Kalsu.

I think people have this perception that coaches tell them to scale weights and movements in workouts because we are trying to hold them back…we don’t want you to succeed and we would like it if you never had the ability to lift heavier or to crush workouts at an RX level…I can tell you that’s not the case or most coaches wouldn’t get out of bed at 4:30 in the morning to coach you in the morning classes..I am all about efficiency and if I was really trying to hold you back, I just wouldn’t show up and unlock the gym and that would REALLY hold you back from improving.

The most important thing I look at when I first look over a workout is what is the intention of the workout and what intensity or stimulus is it designed to provide the athlete?

I was given a perfect example to work with today when coaching a workout written as following:

10 rounds for time, with a 20 minute time cap of

15 calorie row

10 handstand pushups

10 toes to bar

Pretty spicy (to use another overused word in functional fitness) no?

To complete this workout within the given time frame you can’t really afford to mess around, and you need to hold under 2 minutes a round.

What does that mean to me?