As the culmination of 33 2/3rd years of having a right foot that is externally rotated, five years on and off with Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, and roughly 15 years of mostly intelligent training with little direct coaching, I am currently restricted from overhead pressing, which sucks. Being told “no” sucks if you don’t know what to do with it. But as they may say with a sliver of ennui in some Frenchly colonized isle somewhere; “The word no, eet ees ze window to other possibilities.”

Via the expert prescription of my movement analyst/interventionist, I am regressing and redeveloping proper technique and function. Meanwhile, the three monkey tattoos on my person let out a collective grumble on the lack of chin-ups and climbing. Bah Humbug (which used to be the equivalent of M-Fer). But restriction can be freeing, and not in the Orwell 1984 double-speak sense.

My strength programming must coincide with the unavailability of overhead movements. While I cannot perform snatch variations, presses, or overhead squats, I’ve noticed improvements in both my squat cleans and power cleans. Not only from focusing on proper technique, but from doing them more. Same with deadlifts, same with front squats, same with weighted pushups.

This concept is not revolutionary or revelatory. One of my greatest influences, Dan John (whom I’ve spoken with on the phone TWICE), has written plenty regarding the joys and benefits of minimalist/simplified/monk-inspired training. It invites focus and progress. It nudges one towards discipline.

Progress is another aspect worth discussing. My athletes on the autism spectrum perform a few variations of the same exercises over and over because the whole idea is to independently master the movement. That does not happen without a pile of practice. Two weeks ago the father of an athlete asked about including some sport-specific activities because 1) They were doing a basketball unit in school and 2) It had “been a year” since I started working with him.

Do not confuse time passage with progress. Progress occurs with motivation, proper practice, and an environment conducive to success. Simply because a year, or five, or thirty have gone by does not guarantee that a technique is mastered. We evaluate, adjust, improve, and continue. I could write “2,006 Fitness Activities for the Autism Population,” but the truth is that on a regular basis I use a couple variations of maybe eight exercises, because those are foundational movements and they will take a while to develop.

Doing a lot with little consistency creates the illusion of progress. Balance between well-thought goals with enough variety for movement and fun’s sake leads to more immediate and long term improvement.