It seems that the concept of progressions (to make harder) and regressions (to make easier) of exercises has been lost in an attempt to stand out in a saturated Instagram market of coaches and trainers. This short article intends to provide some informative advice about the need for progressions and regressions of exercises and provide some examples of how I implement these into the training programmes I write.
I like to broadly categorise the exercises that I programme into three main categories:
In doing so, it means that there is a logical sequence to the development of different movement patterns. Most athletes will start with the baseline exercise; however, some athletes due to injury or inexperience may be required to immediately regress . Progressions of exercises are only incorporated once the athlete shows mastery of the baseline exercise. Progression is almost always viewed as simply adding weight on the bar but it can be achieved by making the exercise more complex, or by adjusting any of the acute exercise variables (tempo, rest period, volume etc.).
‘The key is understanding that every exercise must be mastered before progressing, and mastery may entail the use of regressions from the baseline’ 
In an attempt to make exercises stand out on social media it seems that coaches and trainers are using exercise progressions for the sake of it (and to get more likes and views). The quote above cannot be reiterated enough – only use progressions when they are required, not simply to ‘change up the workout’. And certainly, above all, do not use a progression with an athlete who is simply not ready for it and so are at significant risk of injury whilst performing the exercise.
So what are some exercise sequences that I include in the training programmes I write?
The above table is not intended to be exhaustive. And, of course, there are nuances to the way I apply progressions/regressions that cannot be incapsulated in such a table. Nevertheless, it does provide a snapshot of some of the thinking behind exercise selection.
Ultimately, you need to be able to justify everything you put in your programme and ensure the challenge being provided by the exercise is suitable for the athlete. If you don’t know why you’re using a certain exercise for the athlete you are coaching then should you really be using it?
Boyle, M., New Functional Training for Sports.