Understanding “Prescribed”

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The term prescribed when it comes to workouts has become a badge of honor and a way of validating a person's performance.  The weights prescribed are geared toward having a high power output and a theoretical "maximum" cyclic rate. If Fran is thought of as 45 thrusters at #95 and 45 pull ups and let's say the "best" time is 2:00 (120 seconds) which results in each rep in 1.33 seconds per with no time loss for transition. Add transition time between stations and then the cyclic rate is faster. We seem to hold performances like this as the standard. It is far from it. How many people can do a 2:00 Fran? Very very few. A 2:00 minute Fran is a mixture of genetic potential, training and a god like tolerance for discomfort. How many people can really move that fast?


People often frame their success in terms of the extreme. The all or none relationship between, train for the 2:00 Fran or Boston Marathon or be top 10 in the CrossFit Games or Hawaii Ironman or make it to the platform in the Olympics or why bother?. All of these are worthy goals and attainable by about the same percentage of people who have 2:00 Frans. Success and failure is often measured by people in terms of how close they are to the super elite performances and not on an accurate assessment of their current and true abilities. Your ultimate success depends on being there and getting better all the time.

Should a person feel "bad" about their performance doing Fran in 7:00 with #45 and jumping pull ups. Depends. If the last time the individual did Fran was with a #15 training bar in 12:00 then no - it is an absolute success. If the person is coming off of a car accident and inconsistent training as a results, they should have a lot of pride for toughing it out. If your last time you did Fran was 5:00 and your slow down is from a drinking and taco bell bender then you might want to rethink your life. Ultimately framing your performance in terms of you of yesterday is better than comparing to elite performers. (Though comparing to the best out there is cool from time to time.)


Prescribed weights are guidelines. Guidelines dependent on several factors. Everyone who attends a CrossFit level 1 hears the mantra: Mechanics, Consistency, Intensity. Poor mechanics are a recipe for bad things. People who cannot have good mechanics in a movement needs to devote time to scaling the load and practicing the movements.  Consistent training is the pathway to intensity. Training often enough to make good movement a habit and taking time develop the strength base to handle higher levels of intensity is essential to good training. Intensity is where all the good things come in. Working toward high levels of work capacity decreases body fat, increases lean muscle mass and tend to move health measurements in the right direction. Intensity without mechanics and consistency is like giving a 4 year old loaded gun.


The "right" prescription for each individual. First check your ego at the door. Second, take time to learn how before you blast off. Your ego boost should come from doing it right, then doing it fast. Understand fast is relative. Fast relative to Graham Holmberg or fast relative to what you did the last time? You know the answer. Enjoy the journey: Being better all the time is the quest. A life long journey of good health and quality of life does not happen in 2 months. It happens from a commitment to being better all the time. Consistently better all the time.


Your prescribed weight makes you better. Your prescribed is what you need to pull you along the journey of excellence.  Your prescribed weight is what is right for you!


  • Couldn’t have said it better myself. I hope you don’t mind If I post this on my page for my people? Giving you credit of course.
    P.S.- I did a 3:03 Fran after a drinking and “take-n-bake pizza” binge a year ago. Never felt worse in my life.. def makes you reevaluate your lifestyle hahaha!
    -AJ (OKM/Columbus CrossFit)

  • No problem Aaron. Glad you like it.

  • Here, Here!! Well said. This material needs to be preached more often. Affiliates striving for Integrity, Technique, and Consistency.

  • steve

    great post.
    I’m Steve Loeding- Owner of Top Gun CrossFit – Minneapolis, MN. Would it be possible for me to borrow this ?
    Thanks !!!
    Steve Loeding

  • Steve, go ahead. Thanks.

  • Nice post, it’s exactly what every CFter should to remember before each WOD.
    Usually I teach the newbies on the very first day a bit on scaling and individual intensity, however once in a while I’ve got to remind them these concepts.
    Love this whole article, might I use it (translated) in one of my post this week? And the same of the above, credits for you.
    CrossFit Brasil

  • Keefa Earls

    Woooowww, this was so well said. I am very hard on myself and my performances. Although improvement is as you said relative, its great to read this article as a reminder. with the forging elite fitness motto, mantra it is sometimes easy to feel like what we do is not elite enuff if it isnt a 2 minute FRAN…. this was great and like the other posts said, i would like to use this with proper credit of course. thanks buddy

  • Another great post Douglas. Can I just copy and paste it onto my site, put my name on it after Tara proof reads it and Crush Fran in 1:30.

  • Davie, as always copy, claim and circulate without acknowledgement. If you are offering Tara’s services, I will accept as grammar and spelling often miss the mark. As far as the 1:30 fran, a video would be acceptable, not you and Tara, the Fran.
    Miss you guys.

  • This is outstanding and what every new CrossFitter needs to hear when they walk into the door to start. And it’s what every seasoned CrossFitter needs to hear from time to time to keep perspective. If you don’t mind would I be able to copy it and post it on our site? Ryan from CrossFit Lynchburg.

  • I’d like to use this excellent post also at CrossFit Lithium!

  • Amber R

    I’m relatively new to CrossFit and have been training regularly at CrossFit Charlotte for about 8 weeks. I needed to hear this SO badly! I tend to measure my success in a workout relative to the elite females at our gym and I never measure up. I rarely give myself credit for the extreme improvements I have made over the past 8 weeks. This was so inspirational for me and a great reminder of what my ultimate goal through this whole experience is – a healthy lifestyle and continued improvement.

  • Go ahead and repost as you like.

  • Brilliant article, cheers! Have reposted article on my journal.

  • Also reposting (if OK) as this is a fantastic article. Thanks, Doug.