Let’s talk about progression and the purpose of properly progressing yourself into heavier weights and faster & more complicated movements.
No matter what sport, fitness regiment or exercise you are participating in the lack of a well thought out progression is going to cause problems.
Look at that picture above, I know all my fellow Marines know exactly what that is…
I also know that a LOT of time, that probably seemed wasted at the time, went into staring at that barrel.
Crawl, Walk, Run
This shouldn’t be a new phenomena for any of you.
It’s the very essence of learning any new skill.
If you can’t verbally talk someone through the procedures (of any skill), then your chances of performing that skill well are slim to none.
Can’t recite your weapons safety rules?
What are the chances you’re going to handle that weapon correctly then?
Working out is no different
First: You need to first understand the mechanics of a movement.
Second: You need to be able to perform those mechanics
Third: You need to be able to perform those mechanics consistently each and every time.
Without those three things, you have no business adding more weight to the bar or trying to move that weight faster or for more reps.
Proper, consistent, mechanics is one of the keys to long-term progress
You may think CrossFitters are stupid because ”Those aren’t real pull-ups” or “high-rep Olympic Weightlifting is dangerous”
But every Level One CrossFit coach out there has been taught:
(Yea, I know there are jackass CrossFit coaches and athletes out there… But it’s just because they are shitty people, not because they were never taught correctly…)
Consistent mechanics IS the foundation of any exercise practice…
Without that, you’re SIGNIFICANTLY more likely to end up injured.
And the goal here is to actually be strong AND healthy (i.e. Able to perform the hardest aspects of your job without a problem) right?
What does “proper progression” look like?
Well, it really depends on the skill you are trying to master, but I generally like to break it down like this:
- Proper technique & mechanics?
- Ability to perform those mechanics consistently?
- Ability to perform the mechanics consistently under fatigue (aerobic)?
- Ability to perform the mechanics consistently under fatigue (anaerobic)?
- Ability to perform the mechanics consistently under load?
If you evaluate yourself here you may find that you are able to check all the boxes for the more common movements you might see pop up in a workout but also identify a few movements/exercises that don’t pass that screen.
This is one of the reasons we spend 8-hours teaching you and drilling running mechanics at the CrossFit Endurance seminar and then ask you to perform a short workout that includes some shorter runs (usually 200m) and a bunch of burpees.
The point is to see if you are able to still implement those new mechanics.
If you’ve done an urban terrain training or CQB then you’ve seen this whole process in action.
Starting with ‘tape houses’ and little to no equipment and moving up to fully kitted up, night time, live fire room clearing.
The situation and the movement patterns may be different but…
The principles are exactly the same.
But here is the BIG problem
Most of you (yea, you) want your sweet gainz right now and don’t have the patients to focus on the long game.
Progression and skill development is a long game…
Which means you can’t just take a Klokov seminar, ask him how he trains, and then just do what he does and expect to be as good as he is.
He didn’t just wake up one morning and decide to become some freakishly strong Weightlifter…
He is a result of thousands of hours of sacrifice, dedication, and practice.
And you should be too.
Becoming bigger/faster/stronger doesn’t happen overnight and it requires that attention is paid to proper progression and a long-term plan, kinda like the Premium Strength & Conditioning programs we offer.
I’ve talked about this before in my article on The Long-Term Pursuit of Strength
3 Key Takeaways
- Start slow & increase speed (and load) with proficiency
- More weight on the bar is not the answer if you haven’t corrected & practiced the proper movement
- You have to be patient
If you’ve spent time in the military then I’m sure none of these concepts are ground-breaking to you.
If you’ve stalled out your progress then step back and take a look at your mechanics (film yourself) and see if you can spot any weaknesses or compensations occurring.
If you keep getting injured then chances are you are moving incorrectly and you need to stop, dress your mechanical faults, and start again.