The Progression Principle

I came across this video while reading a great post over at, but I wanted to highlight it here because it’s not just applicable to running. In fact, it’s applicable to weight training, weight loss, diet, or any sort of situation where you are developing a new habit or skill. Check it out.

In the video, Jason describes using a long-term, staggered approach to training. This approach assumes that there will be plateaus in achievement, but more importantly, also assumes rest periods where negative progress occurs. In the context of this approach these plateaus and negative progress periods are actually desirable, because they allow the body to rest and heal. This is important, because it allows the body to adapt.

Most people plan for a perfectly linear progression when they’re trying to do something — move straight from A to B, without deviation — because that seems like the shortest route to get there. The problem is that that strategy allows for no mistakes; it requires perfection. And nobody is perfect. Training or developing a skill using the progression principle, on the other hand, might take longer, but it’s more resilient; it takes rest and recovery into account, and allows the average person to continue even when the inevitable breaks in routine, or the other demands of life, intrude.

For example, I’ve been off training all week due to a non-fitness related medical issue. Rather than stress about it, however, I’m viewing this as an opportunity; a good chance for my body to recover and rest, and get ready for another 5 weeks of hard weight training.

The progression principle, as outlined above, is a useful way to think about breaks, whether they’re by choice or not. Planning your training (or weight-loss, or diet changes) with the progression principle in mind gets you out of the “never-fail” mindset, and can keep your motivation and progress up. Worth thinking about.

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3 thoughts on “The Progression Principle

  1. […] plan; one that takes into account unexpected events and things you can’t control (remember, the Progression Principle applies). Suddenly, you’ll begin to be able to see your progress as it happens. It […]

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