Fast versus “Best” – How to appropriately scale up or down your workout


Fast versus “Best”

The ‘Scaling Guide’ is one of the most important tools for getting the most out of your time at the gym. The key is to remember that the goal isn’t to get the fastest time, or the most rounds. The key is to use the ‘best’ progressions to land you right smack dab in the middle of the guide!

Scaling Guide(Time or Rounds).png

Before you start the workout, pick the loads and progressions for each movement that you think you can manage to end up in the middle of the scaling guide. Talk to your coach if you aren’t sure, and make sure you have a ‘back up plan’ if after the first few minutes you start lagging behind the target (this is why we usually post ‘minutes per round’ on most workouts).

It is encouraged to start the workout with loads and progressions (aka ‘scaling’) that may be a bit of a stretch if performed for the entire workout. When you are ‘fresh’, you should be able to maintain good form and intensity at these more difficult loads/progressions. If things are going well, keep going! If you start to slow down, or you can’t maintain great form within the time guide, be ready to scale back the movement to a lighter weight to maintain safety while still moving with intensity. One round of ‘Athletic’ or ‘Performance’ is better in the long run than a really fast workout where every round is scaled!

The biggest mistake we see is folks getting too caught up in their score at the end of the workout. The real ‘winners’ are the people who select the right movements/progressions that are going to get them the BEST results.

If you are a beginner, this means that you need to put your ego in check and do the movements that are going to get you into the middle of (or a tiny bit better than) the middle of the scaling guide. If you crush the scaling guide, it means that you might have made it ‘too easy’. If you struggled to finish within the scaling guide, it means that maybe you went too hard.

Side note: Many folks will ‘err on the side of caution’ and do things they are comfortable with, even if they are capable of more. Not only will this slow total progress, it can also change the stimulus of the workout or even put you at risk for injury!

For example, if you scale back the load of a squat, or do knee push ups instead of challenging ring push ups, you may end up doing TOO MANY rounds of an AMRAP. If you are doing a ‘for time’ workout, you may end up back at another movement without an adequate gap for certain muscles to recover.

Doing too many reps because you did 2 more rounds than the scaling guide or doing sets of repetitive movements too close together (because the movement(s) in-between were too ‘easy’) will cause more soreness and predispose you to tweaks and injuries.

If you are more experienced, you may find yourself crushing, or even beating, the scaling guide, even at the ‘Athletic’ or ‘Performance’ loads/progressions. This is a sign that you need to start thinking about doing heavier loads or more advanced progressions. Look at each movement individually and be honest with yourself about what progression is going to be the right balance between challenge and speed. When in doubt, ask your coach about what you should do. Generally, they’ll know where you should be at, and they’ll make sure you aren’t ‘sandbagging’ or biting off more than you can chew.

If you do end up outside of the scaling guide, learn from your experience and make better decisions for next time.

You aren’t “wrong” when you end up beating the scaling guide or going a minute or two over. It just means that you probably didn’t pick the BEST movement for the workout today (or maybe you didn’t have a good ‘back up plan’ when things went off the rails).

We must remember that we are training for the long game. Going too heavy or too advanced is just as detrimental to your progress as going too light or too easy.

You are investing an hour (or more) of your life at the gym today. Let’s make sure you are getting the most out of it by picking the BEST movements to get the most return on your investment!

Thrive on.

-Jeremy Jones

GOMAD- Weightlifting and My Results

Strength, the pinnacle and building block of Weightlifting. There is no special magic sauce (That is legal), shortcut or way around moving more kilos. You can do one of two things to make this happen, improve mechanics or get stronger!  Of course there are a ton of variables at play here to become a more successful lifter, but one thing is certain if you want to get stronger you have to get under the barbell and move weights several times a week. Another important thing to remember is that Olympic Lifting is a weight class sport, and sometimes the call to move up a weight class is needed to get stronger. Mass moves mass, so if you hit thresholds and want to bust through them then maybe it’s time to try gaining some weight.


In November of 2017 I made a personal decision to jump from the 94 kilo class to the 105 kilos class.  I was competing at 91-93 kilos consistently and felt pretty good actually.  But turning 44 years of age soon and competing as a Master Weightlifter I knew that at some point in the near future I was going to shelf out and my gains would really slow down.  I wanted to make an attempt to put on around 10-15 good lbs of muscle to help me bust through that next threshold.  I decided to give the GOMAD a try for 30 days in January of 2018. What I am going to share is my experience with GOMAD and also my results at the end of the 30 day period.


What is GOMAD?

GOMAD is an old school technique that stands for GALLON OF MILK A DAY.  It is a method used for hard gainers (Like me) to gain size and muscle over a 30 day cycle.  I will tell you from personal experience that if you hear people say that the GOMAD is easy or wasn’t that hard, they aren’t being completely honest with you.  Honestly, GOMAD works for gaining size and strength, but no it isn’t much fun. I will let you decide if this plan might be right for you.  Keep in mind for length of this blog post, I am going over the finer points of this plan, there are pages all over the net you can read additional benefits and how this all works too.  So, what are some of the additional benefits for doing GOMAD?

Here are some benefits you can expect from GOMAD:

  • You will gain weight
  • You will gain strength
  • Milk is a cheap, natural source of ~2400 calories (128g of fat, 176g of carbs and 128g of protein)
  • Your appetite will increase (I found it hard sometimes to eat)

For those of you reading this at home we are talking about Whole Milk too!  2% and 1% milk are not going to yield you the results, you need those saturated fats to help boost your testosterone and aid your muscle gain. Most of the negative press you hear about GOMAD I never experienced, but there are sources out there that discuss these. Now, the claim is that you can gain 25-30lbs of mass in a month using GOMAD.  Well, I didn’t yield those results, but I did gain 14 lbs and saw huge strength gains in the month of January.My starting weight was 209lbs and my ending weight was 223lbs.  Did I eat as much as I normally did before starting?  Yup, I ate just as much if not more.  It helps to have a wife who cooks very healthy meals so that I get good dinners in each day also But, I will say that eating was really hard for me because I always felt so full from drinking milk.  Believe me it isn’t easy carrying a ½ Gallon jug with you all day long while you work.  I tried to take down a half gallon each morning by noon, and then finish the second gallon before I went to bed.  I also drank coffee and water too.  Two things will happen if you attempt this: You will pee almost every 45min to an hour and you will also become very ahem…regular if you know what I mean.


My personal results over a one month duration:

We are finishing a very aggressive 6 week cycle in preparation for the American Open Series 1 and the US Masters Nationals in April.  When I started the cycle my best Snatch was 110 Kilos and my Clean and Jerk was 140 kilos at 93 kilos (209lbs). By the end of the month I was weighing in at 101 kilos and can now snatch 118 kilos (260lbs) and have increased my clean and jerk to 145 kilos (318lbs).  We are also doing a front squat cycle and when we started my front squat max was 161 kilos (355lbs) and now I can perform 2×2 at that weight in 3 min on the clock.  I would guess when we test it again I should finish around 170 kilos (375lbs).  Now, these are real gains.  I want to discuss what happens when you stop drinking one gallon of milk a day now.  As soon as I stopped, I dropped about 6 lbs almost instantly.  But my strength gains remained, which was the goal all along.

Now, for you Crossfitters and whole 30 people trying to lose body fat percentage, this is NOT going to be for you.  I am guessing most women are not going to go for this either, unless they are serious competitive lifters who can’t gain weight easily.  But for skinny guys who are difficult weight gainers, maybe this is an option for you to bust through to that next level. Also remember, you can get plenty of gains eating a balanced healthy diet and following good programming cycles.  But if you need that extra push, give GOMAD a try, you might just find BIG gains right around the corner!

JD Stien

Notch 8 Barbell

USAW-1 Sports Performance Coach