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Progression in skill building

Many factors play out in reaching a fitness goal: how often you train, how intensely you workout, what you eat, how – as well as – how fast – you recover, your drive, clarity of goals, what kind of support system (if any) you have, et cetera.

During a training program or cycle one of the most important factors is the training concept of incremental progression.


Most think of progression when performing resistance exercise: incrementally adding weight to an exercise as the fitness enthusiast adapts to it. If, for example, during a cycle of military pressing an athlete adapts to the initial weight chosen, he (or she) would add weight as the reps increased and felt easier. Continuing on until the training goal is met.

There are other aspects to incremental progression however, especially when learning a new movement or motor skill. If you’ve never picked up a bat and hit a ball would you know how to swing it in such a way as to hit a home run? It is very unlikely. In learning to use the bat, you might choke up a bit, and first hit off a T-ball stand, perfecting your grip, stance, and swing before sophisticating the movement by removing the choke, allowing you to hit the ball with the full arc of the bat. Then, when you became comfortable with that, you might have someone pitch slow underhand softball pitches to you so you could begin to learn the timing of hitting a moving object. Continuing on, speeding up the pitches, as you became accustomed to their velocity and trajectory. Eventually you would start using overhand pitches and a smaller baseball to further your growth.


When using incremental progression in learning a new skill you should ask yourself (or a coach): what are your legs doing during the movement? What about your hips, core, spine, shoulders, arms, and grip? All of these are present in every movement you make.

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