Regression and Progression

For the sake of working out and describing exercise intensity (which is always a matter of the individual’s perception, skills and abilities!), here is a simplified description of the words regression and progression, followed by a few key points to keep in mind on how these natural phenomenon can benefit you.

Regression = Decrease, easier, to go/move backward, less

Progress = Increase, harder, to go/move forward, more

If you really wanna trip out, just Google “regression progression” images. I’ve no idea who or what Derpibooru is, or how this is related to either word.wtfunicornImage credits are all yours, Derp.

Important points to consider when it comes to your health, wellness and fitness protocols in relation to regression and progression:

  1. Understand that when you need to progress or regress, you will experience change in one form or another. The golden rule here is of course, being consistent in following that progression or regression.
  2. When you progress or regress, is your form compromised? Is there not enough or too much challenge? Are you bored with the change? Do you understand why you’ve made this change or the need behind it? Does it hurt (exercise)? Does it feel good?
  3. Before going for progression, especially if adding volume (sets/reps) or load (weight/resistance) or time (time under tension/working), go after and solidify the movement itself. Safe, controlled and deliberate movement will help your brain (central nervous system) develop good habits and great form.


Be open to different ways of regressing or progressing. Change or remove:

  • The angle.
  • The speed.
  • The lever length (your own body’s levers or the equipment being used).
  • The depth.
  • The range of motion (ROM).
  • The base of support, developmental position.
  • The position of the load, altering the center of gravity.
  • The load, weight or resistance.
  • Your body’s senses: sight (one or both eyes closed), hearing (music, verbal commands), tactile (using different equipment).


When to progress or regress?

Be aware of several things: Sore all time, never sore, bored, mindless workouts (not present/distracted), frustration, disinterest, change in strength/endurance/recovery, poor sleep and of course, injury.

Become aware of what your neural edge is. That is the breaking point when the brain pieces things together, and can then build out from/on that movement pattern (exercise).

Think of something super easy for most of us, like brushing your teeth. You could do it with your eyes closed, standing on one leg while humming your favorite Christmas carol. This is a movement pattern that your brain has mastered, using muscles that are totally familiar with how to get the job done. Therefore, progressing this movement pattern should be easy.

As opposed to your body having to compensate or find compromising, ineffective or even dangerous movement patters. There are little if no benefits to someone who’s barely able to hinge correctly at their hips to tie their own shoe laces, taking on an advanced movement such as a heavy, strait-leg dead lift.

Use your best judgement, listen to your body and consult with an experienced fitness professional for further discussion on healthy ways of regressing and progressing your exercise program. When it comes to Unicorns in diapers, I’m still unsure what they have to do with any of it. Let me know if you figure it out, eh?

Live, train, eat and rest HEALTHFULLY! Oh and hey… thanks for reading. 😉




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