Exercise Progressions and Modifications


  • It’s ok to modify your workouts, it’s inevitable you’ll have to, but try not to modify anything unless you understand the cause and effect.
  • Try not to modify programs because it may not work as intended. In other words, keep the program the program.
  • You can substitute workouts, but try to sub with the same type of workout.
  • You can supplement workouts by adding more to your program. Extra work has an impact too, so ensure you are getting the proper recovery between workouts.
  • Blocks can be mixed or started in a different order, but A thru C are priority so don’t skip them.
  • It’s ok to modify exercises, including the order and variation of it, but ideally have a good reason to and only change if you have to.
  • Any exercise can be made harder (progressions) or easier (regressions).
  • If swapping exercises, swap with the same type of movement (e.g. a squat for a squat).
  • Equipment can be substituted.
  • Prioritize exercises by their benefit. Don’t go big on small exercises.

Whenever possible, follow your training as closely as possible. However, it’s inevitable you will have to modify your workouts because of crowded gyms, unavailable equipment, limited space, time restraints, mood swings, fatigue, soreness, difficulty, and plenty of other legit reasons. There are many right ways to approach exercise with gives you a lot of options for making changes. Before making changes to your program, workout, or an exercise, consider the following.

Program Modifications

Ideally, keep the program the program. Modifying it is no longer the program as intended, but it’s ok, you can supplement or substitute workouts within a program. Try to swap out for a similar type of workout (i.e. replace a Total Body workout with a Total Body workout).

If you’re the type of person who doesn’t want to follow a program then you could just do each workout once and move rapidly thru all of our workouts. You won’t see the best results overall, but doing that is much better than burning out from boredom. We want you to have fun even if that means sacrificing certain benefits.

Workout Modifications

Changing Blocks

Note: This applies to our workouts.

Not preferred but it’s ok to skip around keeping in mind that Blocks A thru C are priority. Block A is designed to better prepare you for Block B and C. Block B and C are both pretty intense so swapping those may even have it’s advantages. It’s ok if you have to occasionally start at a different block or even mix and match exercises from different blocks.

Exercise Order

Every order within our programs and workouts is done for good reason, but you may have to jump around. Stick to the order as best you can. Some reasons for this are because we want to work some muscles while other muscles are resting, overload some muscles more than others, avoid too much rest between muscles working, and create a balance among the entire body, to name a few.

Exercise Modifications

  • Progressions - increasing the difficulty.
  • Regressions - decreasing the difficulty.
  • Substitutions - changing the exercise or equipment.

Be careful not to change an exercise just because you want to. You have to find the balance of doing what you want to do, what you’re good at, and what you need to do more of (likely because you’re not good at it). All we ask is that you stick to the reps unless you understand how changing reps will affect your results.

As we build out our Exercise Library, we will include progressions, regressions, and alternatives for every exercise.

Exercise Progressions

To improve adaptation by giving you a different stimulus or to challenge you in new ways, there is always a harder version of an exercise.

Here are some common progressions:

  • The easiest way is to increase the load or reps.
  • Change the tempo (speed), both slow and fast can make it harder or easier.
  • Shorten your rest.
  • Using only a single arm or single leg.
  • Hold weights in different positions.
  • Elevate the feet.
  • Use less stable surfaces.
  • Change the grip.
  • Use a different piece of equipment.
  • Alternate left and right.
  • Change body positions (e.g. sitting to standing).
  • Pair with certain exercises (e.g. Push Ups followed by Dips, Chin Ups followed by Bicep Curls).

Exercise Regressions

To improve adaptation by giving you a different stimulus or to challenge you in new ways, there is always a harder version of an exercise. As we build out our Exercise Library, we will include progressions, regressions, and alternatives for every exercise (it takes time to add our 1500+ and growing exercises).

Here are some common regressions:

  • Decrease the load or reps.
  • Use a TRX or bands to reduce the resistance of your bodyweight.
  • Slow down (can also make it harder).
  • Take longer rest.
  • Elevate the hands.
  • Use a different piece of equipment.
  • Use more stable surfaces.
  • Change the grip.
  • Support your body (e.g. sitting, lying, inclines)
  • Use machines.

Substituting Exercises

A callback to Movements Over Muscles, when you know what movement an exercise is you can substitute another exercise in the same category. Replace a squat with a squat, a push with a push, a pull with a pull (e.g. Pull-Ups for Lat Pulldown, Back Squat for DB Goblet Squat, Bench Press for Push Ups). In other words, do something that looks the same. Easy day!

Exercise Prioritization

If you’ve gone completely rogue and are just choosing exercises or maybe you’re advanced enough to start writing your own workouts (i.e. you’re a certified professional), consider the following priorities for exercises:

  • Big muscles before small muscles.
  • Multi-joint before single-joint.
  • Free weights over machines.
  • Pulling over pushing.
  • Balanced before unbalanced.
  • Slow before fast.
  • Strength before conditioning.
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