“I’m Addicted To The Whiteboard!”

by Matt O'Brien


In Rugby League it’s called “white line fever”.


The moment when professional footballers lose their minds and all common sense goes out the window because the try line is in front of them.


They make mistakes, break rules and go for glory when they think it’s in reach but... it’s actually beyond them.

In CrossFit...it’s the whiteboard!

People get addicted to what is written on the whiteboard.

In CrossFit a “Prescribed” workout is referred to as “RX”.

Yes, I know...CrossFitters like to speak in their own language!

The belief that the workout is not a real workout unless its done the way it’s written up, is a problem.

A problem for coaches and a problem for the clients fixated on doing workouts RX at all costs.


Enthusiasm, drive and ambition cannot be faulted.

As a coach they are traits we love to see.

So let's look at why this addiction is such a problem...


The intent of a workout should dictate the approach.

What is written on the board is a guide.

There are times workouts get set with the intent for clients to push through movements with as little rest as possible.

Yet the hypnotic powers of the whiteboard seems to whisper in the ears of clients.

“Go heavier”...”Lift more”, it says.

It convinces them to load barbells with weight destined to slow them down or worse...stop them in their tracks with missed lifts.

“What about my goals?” I hear you say.

Well, let's look at that.


There is no doubt, working towards goals of greater strength, muscular endurance and improved performance are what we want.

To RX a workout might is indicate a win when it comes to these.

The problem is when people get so shackled to what is written on the board they don’t get the intended outcome for that workout.

They stop moving towards those goals.

Or worse still...they leave the gym feeling as though the hard work they just put in didn’t count because it wasn’t done RX !

Don’t get me wrong.

I’m not talking about the situation where someone is close to understanding a movement they have been working on.

This might be muscle ups or double unders.

There is nothing better than seeing people battle a workout involving a nemesis movement...and win!

It finally all comes together and ‘bam’!...they get to write “RX” next to their name.



What I’m talking about here is a 9 minute workout where you watch someone (after 2 minutes) stand around for the next 7 minutes to do four lifts.

All because they refuse to scale a workout and shave off a little weight.

Waste of time.

It is often one’s ego that doesn’t let them change the workout.

“I am a firebreather!”

“I have to do the workout exactly how it's written at all cost.”

Ego will see your progress halt, your movement patterns remain poor and injuries occur.

Leave the ego to one side.

I bet you start to progress quicker.

“Are you saying we should take an easier option in workouts Matt?”

Of course not.

What I’m saying is to make a decision appropriate for the workout.


Ask yourself, what is your goal?

You still have to challenge yourself. The challenge though, might be to move faster or do more work.

The challenge might be to replace a movement you are still learning with something allowing you a greater workload.

Practicing a movement so that it can be added to your workout is what before and after class and open gym is for.

Creighton Abrams said, “When eating an elephant, take one bite at a time.”

Play the long game.

Matt O'Brien