FreeFit WOD – Scaling Appropriately

It’s been a while since I’ve written a workout post, so today I want to share with you a WOD a couple of my clients did this week, and the thought-process behind it. A little bit of background:  both clients are female, and are in the middle of their “building towards a pull-up” mesocycle.  The goal of the WOD was to challenge them to maintain QUALITY reps (full-ROM, moving under control) using the highest-level scaling possible (i.e. most difficult). Once ROM or control started to suffer, we backed them out to a movement that they could handle but was still challenging, and kept them moving.  I also included an opposing movement (push-ups) as well as some general core and posterior chain work (V-ups and walking lunges) for maintenance of past work.  Here’s the WOD, complete with warm-up and post-workout assistance exercises.


  • Samson stretch, 30 sec. each leg
  • 10 banded pull-ups (this is a nice way to start training the motor pattern for the pull-up.)
  • 10 perfect push-ups (to review form)
  • 10 tuck jumps (elevates HR and warms up hips)
  • DROM (Dynamic Range of Motion)  Arm swings.  (Check out the Spealler warm-up from the CrossFit Journal for some fun ones for this.)

WOD  3-4? RFTQ (Rounds for Time & QUALITY)

  • 7 Inverted Ring Body Rows (feet up on object).  Here I’m looking for full ROM, a tight core, and control of the shoulder.  If they can’t close out at the top or start bouncing down in the bottom, it’s over, and we go from inverted – normal – 45 degrees as needed.  7 reps is the goal, so if this is too easy for you, try Dead Hang Pull-ups, or throw on a dip belt for some extra poundage.
  • 7 Perfect Push-ups.  Tons of ways to modify this one.  From knees, incline, decline, clapping, one hand up on an odd-object, rings – you can’t get bored doing push-ups.  If that still isn’t hard enough, you might have to program more reps.  This is where programming for the individual is key.
  • 7 V-ups.  Again, scale as needed.  Too easy – do more, or try ab roll outs, or hollow rocks, on anything that gets it done for you. Personally, I like V-ups because they challenge the client to keep a tight, controlled core throughout the exercise, and work the lower abs (something that many are missing because of the popularity of crunches).
  • 50m walking lunge.  Make sure clients keep their backs up-and-down (not hyper-extended) and that they are stepping out far enough that their shin is vertical and they can drive through their heels, activating the posterior chain.

So what’s up with the variable rounds? This is where my philosophy diverges a bit from some.  You need to push the intensity and your comfort-zone in order to make gains, but pushing it so hard that you’re sick just doesn’t make sense.  Especially when working outdoors in the heat, injury, dehydration, and rhabdo are things every trainer needs to be aware of.  You need to know your clients well enough to know when to push them, and when to back off.  This doesn’t mean you have to be a mind-reader!  Ask.  Involve them in the process. One of my clients completed all 4 rounds, while one only did 3.  And they both worked their tails off.  I was a very happy trainer.

Post-Workout Assistance Exercises

First time being introduced, so my clients are doing 2 sets of 12 reps of the following:

  • External rotator-cuff work with a light dumbbell.
  • YTI shoulder series.
  • Corner-press, or “door jam pinch”, a nice upper back stability exercises that can be done wherever a corner can be found.

Bottom line:  go into your workout/session with a plan, but don’t be blinded by prescription.

Note:  by “perfect push-ups”, I’m not referring to the home-gym device.  I’m just re-emphasizing the need for good form.  Don’t slack off on this, it’ll just hurt you or your clients in the long run.

Site Updates

Look for an exercise video library to be rearing its head on FreeFit Guy in the near future, and also be sure to check out my Facebook page where I’m posting recipe ideas, inspirational quotes, workout ideas, and all the other stuff that doesn’t warrant a full-posting.


-To your health.