Traditionally, fitness programs use the progressive overload principle as a way of ensuring advancements in their fitness journey. This is usually achieved by the means of increased reps, sets or weight. However, when we work with an inactive or maladaptive body, the muscle tissue’s capacity to bear load is decreased. This makes increasing weight for progressive overload a bad idea. For this reason, we heavily focus on utilizing reps and sets as overload when starting with a new client. This is the safest way to progressively overload and practice form.
At Upright Kinetics, posture work starts with Base, precision, and alignment in mind, and we add progressive overload to these basics. Often these skills are best learned when fatigue doesn’t interfere with technique. We focus on establishing Base first with the Foundation 5, which are all performed uni-linearly on a mat. Progressively, reps and sets are increased until the client is comfortable with 2 sets of 20 reps. Then, we introduce standing exercises where the force of gravity serves as a weight overload to maintain Base. Each Standing 7 exercise challenges you to maintain your Base in a different orientation. Usually a client will be challenged to perform 8-10 reps without breaking Base before additional components are added to their program.
Although it may seem tedious and insignificant, maintaining Base throughout an exercise is critical to ensuring Kinetic Hygiene and longevity in your fitness journey. For example, if you struggle with keeping your Base on during a set of push ups, then you are performing beyond Base control and compromising good form which can lead to injury and maladaptations. This is nothing to be ashamed of, and in fact, is very common. We all have different abilities. What matters is that you find your starting point. In this case, we would modify it to an easier push up (knees or inclined) where you could maintain Base throughout a decent set of about 10 reps.
To reiterate… the core effort is to establish and maintain Base so that we can build endurance. Once you have good Base control, increase the amplitude with movement, then reps or sets. Weight increase comes after advancing on the progression scale. We often don’t add weight to a client’s work out plan until they show ease and proficiency maintaining all cues in a given exercise.
By focusing on slow reps, form, and Base, you can successfully override reflexive movement patterns, such as forward head, rounded shoulders or excessive low back curve. If you keep doing sloppy reps with these aberrations intact, you’re just cheating yourself and hardening poor posture and bad habits. Increasing intensity without fundamentals can also introduce new aberrations. Bad habits tend to lead to future issues which can cause chronic pain and may even require surgery.
Some people will only do the foundation exercises, reach a plateau, and never integrate these foundation exercises into more complex movements. Foundational skills are intended for lifelong use. They are new patterns we need the most practice with. Again, this is why we emphasize Base control in all positions and movements; all that time spent exercising is also strengthening the patterns of sound biomechanics.
We take an ease-in approach to posture work with progressive overload so that we can reprogram the body. Progressively overloading your Base with movements, rather than weight, is a sure way to reliably increase your tissue’s capacity to handle load and become more resilient. Finding a deeper connection to your foundation (Base) improves all your activities of daily life, recreation, and fitness.