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Better Group Fitness Progressions

Ultimate Sandbag fitness equipment

The truth is we have probably all done it at some point, I know I did! When I first tried my hand at group fitness coaching I had everyone doing the same exercise. For most of us, this is how we have both seen and been taught to coach group fitness, but it makes  little sense when you sit back and think about it. One of the biggest dilemmas I hear from coaches is that they struggle to have people of different fitness levels train at the same time. A lot of such issues stem from people trying to have everyone perform the same exercise.

We don’t create workouts where one on one or semi-private clients do the exact same thing, so why do we do it in group? The answer is really simple, we haven’t been shown any other way. Sure, you will hear how certain programs “scale” their training but that often has two major issues.

The first is they tend to only scale weight, that sounds reasonable upon first glance, but then reality sets in. Scaling largely upon weight poses a few problems.

-Time intensive! The time it takes for someone to adjust their weights, or go find the right weight can really throw off their training and that of the entire group.

-Expensive! If most of your progressions and regressions are based off of just how much weight you use you are going to end up with a model of training that requires A LOT of equipment. This not only becomes expensive but also tends to eat up one of your most valuable assets, space.

-It often doesn’t work! Maybe this should be point number one, but as logical as it sounds to just change the weight one lifts, the truth is that there are more reasons than just not “strong” enough that one can’t perform an exercise. It could be too complex, require mobility they don’t possess yet, require more movement skills than they currently have, and so forth. As the saying goes, “if all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail!” Same can be said if load is your go to for most regressions and progressions in your group fitness training.

What Should You Do Instead?

I do have to laugh the amount of times I’m told DVRT is complicated. The reason that I laugh is because I’m not smarter than the average coach and all I did with DVRT was try to create solutions to issues I was facing as a coach that wanted to maximize the results and time with clients. There IS a difference between different and complicated, when something is different it takes a little bit to really grasp all its aspects. That is why in DVRT we recommend people start with maybe 1 or 2 of the new variables we introduce to people. So, we are going to do that today!

Instead of relying all on changing the weights used in your group fitness class, altering holding and body position can give you better solutions of regressions and progressions while also solving all the issues we addressed up above.

ultimate sandbag squats

Our general rule of thumb is when we are doing lower body dominant exercises we will change the load position before body position. That is because in such lifts, changing body position creates a much more dramatic impact to the exercise. The above shows 4 of over 7 ways we can change position of the Ultimate Sandbag to make the squat easier or more difficult, more stability based or more maximal strength.

Of course, that means then when we are discussing upper body dominant lifts we are going to change body position first, then holding position for the same reasons we do opposite in the lower body. We want to make these exercises as progressive as possible, basically our way of adding 5 pounds or so to a lift.

group fitness

Above are 4 of the 6 body position we will typically use to progress or regress an overhead press. When you combine the options of low and body positions you don’t just have a bigger toolbox for your clients and programs, you have a better one!

So, how we put this together as a system? At first we recommend people follow this path…

Lower Body Dominant: Holding Position->Body Position (go back to stable holding position)->Plane of Motion->Then Combine Variables

Travis Moyer shows the body positional progressions we can use for our upper dominant DVRT movements.

Upper Body Dominant: Body Position->Holding Position (go back to stable body position)->Plane of Motion->Then Combine Variables

 Above, Coach Martin Adame shows how we use body position and plane of motion progressions for our Front Loaded Good Morning

Is that really complicated? I get if these ideas are new to you it may be a bit overwhelming, but when you take a step back all we are asking is people to consider how you hold a weight when you move, how you stand with a weight when you move, or both. Not bad right?

This gives us so many more solutions to giving people in a group fitness program a customized experience. We want to take away the fear that they will be left behind if they join and we don’t want those that have been a part of the group for awhile to get bored. Now we can solve needs for both keeping your equipment needs actually relatively low and allowing you to maximize space and time to train. If we wanted to just make money we would tell you needed MORE equipment, not less. Combining these ideas with other tools like kettlebells and bands 0pens such a huge opportunity to achieve our goals both from a training and business perspective.

You can see how we apply these DVRT principles even to advanced exercise like airborne squats like our friends at DVRT Japan show below!

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