In Part 1 of this article I wrote about the importance of regression in an exercise program. Now regression on its own is pretty pointless as if you do not progress off the back of regression then you really are just moving backwards. In the last article and video I described how and when to make exercises and exercise programs easier for clients to help them with weight loss, bulking up, and also in establishing much more efficient movement patterns. In today’s article I’m going to move on to progression of exercises beyond the original to get truly amazing performance improvements but also touch upon how this can improve injury prevention and rehabilitation.
For me injury rehabilitation and sports performance enhancement are one and the same just at opposite ends of the spectrum. With both issues you are looking to increase function in a particular joint or muscle group, but in injury rehab, the end result is to get out of pain, and in sports performance it is to go faster or lift heavier. In this article, along with the video, I am going to look at the lunge again, start to increase the intensity again and then come back to the original lunge with the same weight and see if the clients technique has improved any.
In the video in Part 1 we regressed the lunge by lowering the weight, reducing the height, changing the angles of the feet, taking further pressure off using a suspension kit and on the whole just getting the client much more comfortable with the lunge in general. Again the list of modifications I have provided is not exhaustive – it just gives you an idea of where to go. The beauty of this process is that every trainer will do it slightly differently and no one is wrong – it’s just that better trainers hit the right exercises at the right time.
How to progress an exercise
Now, the best way to progress an exercise is to start with something that is easily achievable – this builds confidence and begins to get the muscles used to different movements…
(i) In the video above I have begun with some 3D lunges with extra emphasis on the frontal and transverse planes.
(ii) Next I start to bring some extra weight back in with the dumbbells.
(iii) I also extend the lunge far beyond the original (I really work the extension of the back hip and force the front hip to deal with a greater load) – this movement pattern allows the hip flexors to become much more influential in the movement and allows the back leg to generate power and thus spread the load of the exercise over both legs rather than a front leg dominant exercise.
(iv) Next I start to add arm drivers to the lunge, for me this is important as it elicits a reaction within “the core” to help stabilise the body, as the core has to deal with forces driving in many different directions to keep the client standing up. Arm drivers also exaggerate the effect on the hip – driving the arms forward and down exaggerates hip flexion, overhead emphasizes hip extension, to the side exaggerates rotation and so on. Arm drivers are a great way of changing what is happening in the hip whilst keeping the exercise as close to the original as possible. For truly effective ‘functional training’ the exercise should look as similar as possible to the original exercise or movement in order to allow the brain believe it is the same and so enforce the movement pattern whilst still creating very different feelings within the joints. It may sound a bit far-fetched but as you can see from the results it’s very effective.
(v) Finally I have brought in some ‘Jops’ (a jump from both feet to one foot, and then a hop from one foot back to two) with different arm drivers. This is where the intensity starts to really increase. This particular type of training is very effective for field or court sport athletes as it teaches the feet, hips and spine to load with impact and speed. In another earlier article on functional football I talked about training muscles as pumps and springs and this comes into play here:
‘Pumps’: when we go through a greater range of motion we work the muscle as a pump. Think of the quads in this case – in the original lunge they extend as the knee bends and then pump the body back to the original position.
‘Springs’: In contrast, with a Jop, the quads hit the ground, react very quickly and ‘spring’ the body back. This type of movement is much more applicable to pitch and court sports.
As can be seen here, there is a little cross over between pumps and springs, and both can be used to train the other. (I’ll go into this in further depth in my next article!)
And so to the finished product….
I don’t feel I need to say too much – the before and after in the video says it all! The first lunge was performed after a typical five minute warm up. I then videoed pretty much my entire workout of regression and progression and the whole thing took about 35 mins and massive improvements can clearly be seen in even that short time.
Hopefully you can see that the videos in these two articles show that changing movement patterns and improving performance can and should be monitored on a minute by minute basis rather than on a month by month basis! As a trainer if your not doing this then I think you should reconsider your training methods and if you have a trainer and they aren’t doing this then maybe you should reconsider your trainer.