Rudy Thomas by Rudy Thomas

Clients come in all shapes and sizes, with a wide range of abilities and goals. For this reason, understanding how to progress and regress specific exercises is a crucial skill that all health and fitness professionals must acquire. It is your job to provide your clients with stepping-stones that will allow them to advance or progress to their specific health and fitness goals.

This article outlines logical progressions (which can also be reversed to provide regressions) for some common exercises that feature the five essential or basic human movements that everyone should be able to exhibit at any point in time. This includes squatting, hinging, pushing, pulling and carrying a load.


TRX assisted squats--->BW Squat--->Landmine Lumberjack Squat--->DB or KB Goblet Squat--->2KB Front Squat---BB Front Squat--->BB Back Squat (mobility may be a limiting factor here)

Hinge (2 options): Tapping the hips back to a wall is a great way to provide tactile feedback for new exercisers.

Assisted BW Hinge (hold onto a squat rack or TRX)--->Band-resisted Hinge--->BW Hinge--->KB Deadlift---->2KB Deadlift--->KB Swing

Assisted BW Hinge (hold onto a squat rack or TRX)--->Band-resisted Hinge--->BW Hinge--->KB Deadlift---->BB RDL---> BB Deadlift

Push: Push-up

Plank--->Push-up Position Plank--->Incline Push-up (continually lower the incline)---->Band-assisted Push-ups (pulling up from the bottom)--->Eccentric-only Push-ups---->Bottom-up Push-ups--->BW Push-ups---->Weighted Push-up

Pull: Pull-up

Hollow Hold (horizontal pull-up position)--->Straight-arm Hang--->Flexed-arm Hang--->Eccentric-only Pull-ups--->Partial Pull-ups (working the bottom to halfway and top down to halfway)--->Band-assisted pull-ups--->BW Pull-ups---->Weighted Pull-ups

Loaded Carry: Farmer’s Carry

Bent-leg Side Plank--->Straight-leg Side Plank---->Suitcase March (in place)---->Farmer’s Walk--->Suitcase Carry (increase weight or distance, but not both at the same time)--->Heavy Farmers walk

It’s worth noting that these are merely examples of possible progressions—you will have to determine what works best with each individual client based on his or her fitness level and goals.

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