Regress to Progress

Chris planks

You may have heard me talking about this in recent sessions. The need to regress to progress.

It’s something I’m thinking about more and more recently. It’s not just about doing the harder moves, lifting the heavier weights.

You have to earn the right to do the hard moves and to lift the heavier weights.

I like to give lots of options to my clients in our sessions: because there is a wide range of skills in a typical session. But sometimes I find people are jumping up to the harder moves when they’re perhaps not quite ready for them yet.

The thing is this: you don’t get better results by doing the harder option. Especially if you’re not ready for them yet. In fact, it will likely backfire. You might get injured or you might find you’re simply not executing the harder option well enough for it to benefit you.

It’s too easy to get wrapped up into harder and heavier – I’m certainly prone to doing that! But it’s not always the right approach!

Instead during an exercise, think about what you’re feeling rather than just getting through it. Are you squeezing where you’re supposed to be squeezing? Are you tight in the places you should be? Have you got the right posture and alignment? Chin? Shoulders? Upper body? Have you got the right range of motion? Or are you cutting it short?

Here’s some examples:

  • If you’re struggling to hold a side plank: drop to your knee. Make sure you can actually feel your sides working in this position. Rather than shifting uncomfortably several times in the block of time and feeling nothing.
  • If you can’t lunge without wobbling and getting your knee right down to the ground, you have no business lifting the heavier weights during the lunges. Drop the weight. Or regress to a stationary lunge.
  • If you can’t press up to a full range, regress this movement. There is no point in bashing out lots of half reps. Work on the decline / eccentric  section only or move it to an incline press.

It’s about finding a balance between stalling your progress and actually earning the right to progress. And rest assured, if you’re stalling your own progress, I will call you out on it! You can be sure I’ll let you know if you’re taking the easy option, and you shouldn’t be!

But remember this: we’re never better than the basics. I have been working out for 20+ years and I still do basic squats and lunges. And I still record myself to critique my form and check where everything is compared to where it should be. There will always be improvements to be made.