We’ve all been there: show up to the gym on Wednesday morning, lower back and hamstrings smoked from all those kettlebell swings you did on Monday, and now you see heavy deadlifts and high volume power cleans on the board for today. But you’re just too sore to put your body through that so you ask your coach about scaling options.

Of course, that’s what coaches are here for, but scaling isn’t always the best option. Sometimes it’s actually the worst option, especially if you’re so sore that we have to fundamentally change the nature of the workout and abandon the intended stimulus. Scaling isn’t meant to work around soreness but to find alternatives to movements you are unable to execute safely or to accommodate injuries.

We have the distinct advantage over other gyms in DC because the vast majority of the time there is another class on the other side of the wall of boxes that could be a better fit on any given day. It’s not always a hard rule, but it’s pretty close to it: if there are a lot of overhead movements that your shoulders just can’t take in CrossFit then FastFit will probably be more squats or rowing.

There’s another maybe even better solution though: take a rest day. If you’re so sore that you can’t get your arms overhead or bend over to tie your shoes, take that as your body telling you that it needs a break. Soreness in itself is not a good evaluator for how good your workout was or the effectiveness of your program. And if you’re sore enough that you have a hard time doing routine tasks, it’s unlikely that you’ll get much out of your workout that day anyways.

So take that unplanned rest day once in a while, your body will thank you for it.