Progressing and Regressing Exercises

One of the most frustrating and disheartening things we hear as coaches is “this is my score for the metcon but I ONLY did scaled options” or “I ONLY did kneeling push ups, not full ones so my score doesn’t count”. As you have all seen by now, there are often RX and scaled options written on the whiteboard beside some exercises in the metcon. These are there to give a general guide but do not need to be followed strictly to reap the benefits of the workout.

More often than not, there are more clients doing scaled and further regressed exercises than what is written on the board, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with this. For example, a common regression for box jumps is step ups, and anyone who has ever done step ups as part of their workout can tell you that by no means are they any easier than box jumps – in fact I would argue that step ups are the harder option of the two even though they are a ‘regression’!


If there is a movement you struggle with or haven’t quite yet mastered, your coach will often give you a regressed version of the exercise that will still target the same muscle group. Some examples include elevated push ups instead of kneeling / full push ups, jumping or banded chin ups instead of full chin ups, hollow rocks instead of kip swings and many more. Often clients feel they have to pick one option and stick with it for the duration of the workout, but this isn’t the case. If we take the example of push ups, often people find full push ups too hard, but kneeling push ups too easy. In this case, we would suggest pushing yourself to do as many full ones as you can, then drop to kneeling push ups when you can’t do any more. If there are 10 push ups in the work out, and you can do 1 push up, than make sure you push yourself to do that one push up every round for as long as you can, and you can do 9 kneeling push ups to finish the round. Next time push ups come up in a workout, aim for 2 full push ups in every round and so on. The same can be said for further regressions of the exercises; do 1 kneeling push up followed by 9 elevated push ups, and progress to 2 kneeling push ups the next time they come up in a work out.


Any time you complete a workout, you have achieved something. Just because you may not have completed exactly what was written on the board does not mean that what you have done was not worthwhile. So they next time you are putting your score on wodify, the whiteboard or telling a coach / classmate how you got on in the workout, make sure you never use the word only again. Continue to push yourself, be proud of every progression you make and remember that if you feel you have nothing left to learn or progress on to, you are in the wrong place as we ALL have the capacity to learn more if we are willing.

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