Monday, October 29, 2012

Regressed Progressions

This is a topic that I've thought about writing about for a pretty long time now, but just recently came up with the name that I've now assigned to it. Regressed Progressions are exercises that you'll seen used by bad personal trainers in commercial gyms everywhere.

Not a Regressed Progression: Still stupid
These are exercises that trainers use with that clients that are so advanced beyond the capabilities of the client that the trainer needs to add in a bunch of extra assistance.

No, I dont mean things like pull-ups with resistance bands or plate-elevated deadlifts. I mean things like TRX bulgarian split squats with the client holding the trainers hands; squats on a bosu ball with the client holding the TRX; or pushups with both hands on medicine balls with the client can't keep their core up or get their chest all the way to the ground. 

Every exercise has a progression and a regression: you need to find the appropriate variation for your client and their particular situation. One of the marks of a good trainer is to be able to apply the correct level of difficulty to the client. 

I once saw the TRX Bulgarian Split Squat with hand-holding and a half-range of motion performed by a trainer during their first workout with a client. I think this is often a clear sign of a trainer who isn't confident enough in their ability to explain to a client why a particular exercise is appropriate for them and will help make them better. Instead, it's much easier to give someone a super difficult exercise that they can't do and say "Well, this is why you need to train with me. You can't even do an single-leg overhead squat on a stability ball with one eye closed and me throwing tennis balls at you!"

The other reason that a bad trainer will use an exercise like this is because they feel that they have to give a client a show; they need to impress them by showing off variations and exercises that the client has never done before. This way the client will know how awesome the trainer is because they are doing something so hard that they can't even complete the exercise!

Stick to the basics: make sure that your client is able to do a basic exercise with proper form through a full range of motion before you progress them to the next harder variation. They will get a MUCH better training effect from this than they will from limited ROM exercises that are too difficult to actually perform. Have confidence in your exercise selection and your ability to explain why this is the appropriate variation for the client.

Have a great day, and go lift something heavy!

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