The Power of Regression


Do you have a regression and progression for every exercise that you do with your clients? If you want to distinguish yourself from all the other trainers in our field and have a successful business, the ability to make an exercise easier or harder is one key skill you need to have!

With the future of the fitness industry moving towards more group training, whether it be 2-4 people training together with their own individual program or large metabolic ass kicking’s and bootcamps, you better make sure your programming is tight. And this means knowing how to regress or progress every exercise in that program

We’ve all Trained Bob Before

So here’s the situation. Bob, one of your normal Tuesday 6am clients, comes in and you’ve got the perfect program all ready for him. But during the warm up he tells you that his backs been bugging him since Friday. Oh oh…… Still think doing those deadlifts and bent over rows is going to be a good idea? Hopefully you know what you’re going to regress these to. Even worse, imagine if Bob doesn’t tell you during the warm up, he tells you during his first set. Now the pressure’s on to come up with an alternative and quick!

Now I’m not saying this to sound all high and mighty, I’m telling you because I’ve been in that situation before. And had to um and ah while I tried to think of what exercise I should give instead. It was thru the stress of that moment that I realized I better know how to change things based on a well thought out process, as opposed to just going with the first thing I could think of in the pressure of the moment. But it could have been even worse had I been training numerous clients at the same time! And that’s what I see far too often in gyms today.

It’s Imperative to Your Business

Not only should we have a plan or system of regressing all our exercises so that we are not reinforcing poor movement patterns or potentially injuring our clients, but we should also know how we can progress exercises for variety of clients we have. Because with these clients it’s not a case of poor movement patterns or injury, it’s a case of losing them as a paying member. If I’m paying you to train and it’s not challenging me then I’m not going to stick around too long. The worse thing about this client is they’ll just leave and you’ll probably never know why they stopped training with you.

The Crossfit Conundrum

What’s the biggest criticism that we in the fitness industry make or hear about Crossfit? It’s unsafe or too many people get hurt. And now I agree with this (to a certain degree) the reason for this all comes down to one thing. Not having smart regressions and progressions. Now let me make myself clear, I’m not cutting down Crossfit, because there are other bad trainers out there, but with Crossfit we are able to tar them all with the same brush. So just like the rest of the industry, there are good ones and bad ones out there. And the great Crossfit boxes out there are the one’s that have their programming down, but the ones that just throw the same exercises at all their members without altering them based on the individual’s capabilities are the ones that we hear about. So this is a prime example of the need to know your regressions and progressions!

They’ll Think I Don’t Know

There is nothing wrong to have a list of all your progressions and regressions in your pocket or on a clipboard you carry around the gym. I’ve heard way too many trainers tell me they don’t want to do that because they think their clients will think they don’t know what they are doing if they pull out a list from their pocket. My response is “Are you kidding me!? Your client is thinking, my trainer is so prepared he had already marked down what they want me to do next.” You will stand out to your client, because you’re not just winging it like so many other trainers out there do.

We Are Professionals

So don’t use this as an excuse to be less prepared than you should be. Our clients pay us a lot of money for the service we provide and I like to consider our profession to be filled with professionals. So if we want to be looked at as professionals we need to start acting like it. And it’s ok if you don’t have a list because I’ve put together a 7 level regression/progression list together for the 5 major movement patterns (push, pull, hinge, squat, lunge) to help you get started. You can download it below and then print it off and start using it today.