Progression and Regression

Fitness Training with Nicky Holland

If you ask most people “why do you exercise?”, you will get a similar answer from everyone.

We like to improve, we like to see positive changes to our fitness or physique. We also like to see some rewards for the hard work and effort we put in. You don’t need me to state the obvious as we all know, if we do the same exercises, lift the same weight and run the same distance, for the same amount of times per week, we will probably stay the same. There will be no improvement and no positive change. This is where progression comes in to play.

There are many ways to add progression into your programme or training routine. I’ll use myself as an example. If I was to exercise for one hour for x3 times a week I would develop a basic level of fitness. Some would argue that x3 times a week working at the right intensity would be enough to improve my fitness level and that purely depends on the variables that affect your training. Below is a list of variables:

  • Sets
  • Repetitions
  • Rest period between sets
  • Load or weight lifted
  • Measured Heart Rate
  • Time or duration of session

Now you know what the variables are, you can play around with them to progress or regress. It is worth noting that progression takes time and should be implemented and scaled in a structured way. For example, you wouldn’t run a 5k this week then next week progress to running a marathon. The same applies in the gym, you wouldn’t bench press 50kg this week for 5 reps then try 100kg next week.

Having a personal trainer or a coach to help programme this for you, can be really effective. There is an art to programming and if done correctly can speed up results. There are also times where you might need to regress your training. If I was exercising at high intensity and I had been lifting heavy for a period of time, I might programme a de-load week into my routine, where I work at a lower intensity, lift less and go lighter to allow my body (muscles and joints) to recover. If you pick up an injury from training, you would also need to regress your training, so you can give your body time to recover and repair.

Take a moment to think about your fitness goal. Whether your goal is weight loss, muscle building, reducing body fat %, improving flexibility or just being generally fitter, we need to establish in our own minds, what we want and what we need to do to get there. Ask yourself questions like:

  • How many times can I exercise this week?
  • What type of exercise will I do?
  • What weight will I lift?
  • How many sets and reps should I do?
  • What distance will I run?
  • Then use the list of variables above to scale and progress your training.

Another way to get results and train smart is to Specifically Adapt to Imposed Demands, also known as the SAID principle. What this means is, if you want to get stronger legs you wouldn’t focus on bench press exercises or upper body work, you would focus on squats, deadlifts, lunges, leg press etc. You need to condition your body (muscular system, nervous system, skeletal system, endorcrine system) to adapt to the training you are doing. You’ll be amazed in 12 week what you can achieve if you do this correctly.

Get in touch if you need my help.

Instagram: @nicky__fitness / Website: for more information.


All Articles