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It's All About Progression

A Progression Based Approach...

A progression based approach to training introduces movement patterns at the most basic level first. Once mastery of the basics has been demonstrated, more difficult variations may be introduced.

A scaling based approach introduces the movement patterns at the most complex level first and scales back the difficulty of the movement until the athlete finds an option he can perform adequately. This approach leads to slow progress and frustration.

At Trebel, we prefer a progression based approach. Mastery of the basics lays a foundation of proper technique, strength, and mobility. It identifies the roadmap towards high-level movement.

For example, in a progression based approach to the kipping pull-up, a new athlete will not hear the words kipping or pull-up until far along in her journey.

  • She begins by developing the grip strength and mobility to hang on the bar for 30 seconds.
  • Once displayed, the athlete is introduced to horizontal ring rows, which strengthens her ability to retract her shoulder blades.
  • Next comes the scapular pull-up, which allows her to understand how to protect the shoulder and strengthen the shoulder girdle when hanging from the bar (a necessary skill before learning the kip swing).
  • The piked ring row is introduced next to develop pulling strength in the vertical plane.
  • During her workouts, she alternates between piked ring rows and challenging horizontal ring rows (eventually working up to a ring row with her body parallel to the ground) in order to develop pulling strength in both the horizontal and vertical plane.
  • She often incorporates slow eccentric lowering and static holds at the top of the rep to make the rows extra challenging and to build up connective tissue.
  • After 6 months of training, the athlete achieves her first strict pull-up.
  • One to two years into her training, she has built up the strength to perform 5 strict pull-ups.
  • Her coach then asks if she’d like to learn something called “the kip swing.”

If we were to take the same athlete and introduce the kipping pull-up with a scaling based approach – that is, have her attempt a kipping pull-up very on in her training – it’s very possible that she would have been able to flail around enough under the bar to get her chin up and over or worse, she would grab a band to assist her in kipping up to the bar.

The athlete would most likely be encouraged to perform kipping pull-ups regularly and most likely neglect ring rows, scapular pull-ups and all the other progressions I mentioned above.

The athlete would probably feel good about doing “pull-ups.” But sadly, this would set the new athlete up for failure. More likely than not, she will injure her shoulder/elbow because connective tissues in the shoulder and elbow take far longer to develop than regular muscle. She would also likely see strength plateaus and lack of improvement in her pulling strength.

Ok, so I may have exaggerated a bit in those stories but I believe the point was clear. If we focus on progression rather than scaling, strength gains come more consistently while still providing the necessary amount of time for mobility and connective tissue to develop.

At Trebel, we find athletes that have been guided through a progression based approach to training encounter greater success and are less likely to be injured in the long run.

Are you curious about a specific movement and how to progress towards achieving it? Consult the Movement Hierarchies below and ask one of our coaches for help in reaching it.

Group Class Programming for Monday, April 10th:
1. Snatch 3-3-3-3-3

2. "Karen"