The Progression of Progression

In Bodyweight Mastery, Strongman Mastery by Logan ChristopherLeave a Comment

I’m always harping on progression because that is ultimately what all of fitness is about.

Challenge your body in some way and it comes back better the next time.

But what that means is that you must continually challenge yourself in a progressive manner to go from where you are at to where you are going. More challenges as you get better.

I just re-codified how I think about progression while I wrote the 2nd edition of The Master Keys to Strength and Fitness.

And, of course, as soon as I set something concretely down in written form, I develop some new key insights. An idea I’ve been playing with is how you can progress in using forms of progression!

To properly understand this you need to get the different forms of progression like intensity, volume, density. And you need to get the differences between single, double and triple systems of progression. All that is covered in the book.

Let’s take a basic exercise such as a deadlift, but this applies to any strength exercise.

At first, you can simply try to lift heavier each and every workout. (Intensity)

This works for a while…and then you’ll hit a plateau.

Next start trying to max out how many reps you can do with each different weight. (Set)

For example, let’s say you can do a single with 315. So how many reps can you manage with 225? 275? From workout to workout, increase the numbers in those sets.

This works for a while…and then you’ll hit a plateau.

Now, start tracking the total volume with each given weight. Not just a single set, but multiple sets. From workout to workout increase this amount. (Volume)

I just had to make this transition with my bent press. I got a bit stuck with a max at 155 lbs for a couple months. I was working on maxing out not just weight, but each of the lower weight sets. Still, doing this I hit a plateau. So what did I do? I started going for more total volume with each weight with multiple sets.

Only a couple weeks after doing this I hit 165 lbs in the bent press. It restarted the gains.

Again, this works for a while…and then you’ll hit a plateau.

Next up you can track that volume in time. (Density) This is what I am doing currently for many of the exercises I’m doing including handstand pushups, pullups, and squats.

Here’s the main point. To do all this from the beginning is not necessary. It really depends on how far you’ve come with a particular exercise.

Of course, this may change depending on all kinds of other factors. It’s most appropriate when training for strength, and not necessarily for endurance, mobility, flexibility, etc, though elements of this progression of progressions might still fit.

There are still more progressive methods that can be used too. But progressing your progression may just be a hidden key that most people haven’t seen.

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