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March 2014

Why Postural Alignment is Important in Exercise Progression

Adhering to a proper exercise progression program may seem boring, but if you are unaware of how to progress properly then you could be doing serious damage to your body. In the process of trying to progress to a more challenging routine, you might be neglecting your postural alignment. The risk of developing injuries and bad postural alignment are increased when you are improperly progressing through an exercise program without posture in mind.

According to a report by the National Center for Biotechnology information (NCBI), exercise progression is a dynamic process that requires exercise prescription, evaluation of training progress, and careful development of target goals. Workouts must be planned according to specific goals and progression is achieved by varying the exercise prescription over time. A careful system of goal targeting, exercise testing, proper exercise technique, supervision and optimal exercise prescription will contribute to your successful exercise progression program.

The Center of Disease Control (CDC) website states that it's important to progress, or consistently advance the intensity of your workout by challenging your muscles, because the continuous challenge allows your muscles to grow and stay strong. The National Posture Institute believes that posture and postural alignment are included in the process of exercise progression. If you are diving into your exercise routines you may be at risk for developing poor postural alignment, tight and strained muscles, and future injuries, because you may have progressed to difficult activities even though your body has not learned to perform the basics while in good postural alignment.

The National Posture Institute's NPI-Certified Posture Specialist™ (NPI-CPS) utilize an evaluation and assessment approach to determine when you are ready to advance to a more challenging exercise by utilizing an exercise training matrix and a grading system. The NPI-CPS also assess your form during the preparatory, central and terminal phase of an exercise.

NPI’s Exercise Training Matrix™ ranks popular exercises based on their difficulty levels, and the NPI-CPS would determine your readiness to advance to the next level by using the matrix in conjunction with NPI’s Exercise Grading System™. This analytical and detailed process allows the professional to assess you in five areas and you must score a certain grade in order to progress to the next exercise. This process also allows the CPS to follow a selection and progression system that addresses your specific needs to ensure that you maintain good postural alignment while engaging the activities.

A major reason for this approach is to ensure that you're ready and capable of advancing to a more challenging exercise technique while knowing how to maintain good postural alignment. Even though you might currently experience pain and discomfort, and have poor form and bad postural alignment, you may feel that you're ready to advance to a more difficult exercise routine after a few weeks.

Consider the following: If you sit for many hours daily, you may have tight or shortened hip and hamstring muscles and may have trouble performing squats as your pelvis may change position while performing the exercise. Similarly, if you begin an exercise routine and have tight shoulder and rotator cuff muscles, you could be causing more harm in the long run if you decide to perform pushups. You may slip into bad postural alignment or stretch and strain your muscles as a result of progressing to this exercise too soon.

Postural alignment is important for exercise progression and you may be unaware, or neglecting the process of assessing you postural alignment during your exercises. By progressing to a more difficult exercise without sufficient knowledge or readiness, you could be causing more harm to your body in the long run.


  • Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity. (2011).Growing stronger: Strength training for older adults. Retrieved from Center for Disease Control and Prevention website: http://www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/growingstronger/index.html
  • Kraemer, W., & Ratamess, N. (2004). Fundamentals of resistance training: progression and exercise prescription. Med Sci Sports Exerc36(4), 674-88. doi: 15064596
  • National Posture Institute. (2007). NPI certified resistance training professional™ (NPI-RTP) certificate program. Retrieved from http://www.npionline.org/programs/professional/rtp.htm
  • National Posture Institute. (2007). NPI CPS certificate programs. Retrieved from http://www.npionline.org/programs/professional/cpscertificates.html


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