When it comes to the highest quality of your training, the weight, repetitions and progressions don't matter AT ALL.
Nowadays everyone wants to lift the most amount of weight possible the quickest possible way or do the most impressive looking skill.
Similar to handstands, there is nothing wrong with building up to neat-looking skills or lifting heavy weights, but it is the focus that is the problem.
When it comes to high quality training, how much you can lift, how many repetitions you do or how advanced the progression is, doesn't really matter at all.
If you want to start making real gains, then you need to put the ego aside and destroy this illusion of being strong.
You need to start to prioritize quality of your training over everything.
Quantitative training is a type of training where the primary focus is on reaching the highest progressions, lifting the most amount of weight or doing the most amount of repetitions. Quality and form matter but only as a secondary thing.
These people are always looking for the next thing instead of focusing on the training at hand. Every progression is a stepping stone to the next one. The purpose of every workout is to lift more weight in the next workout.
The problem with this approach is that it is not the best and most efficient way to progress. Moreover, it's arbitrary and you may not be as strong as the numbers suggest.
This approach leaves the most important part of your training (the basics) aside and doesn't focus on building the strongest possible foundation. Training is not a video game: you don't ever level up from the basics.
Another problem is that weight, repetitions and your exercise progression are not the same as strength. These things are only indicators of strength which often are not very accurate.
Almost everything is a skill and relies a lot on your neuromuscular adaptation. The fact that you can do heavy pull ups doesn't necessarily mean you are very strong - it mostly means that your neuromuscular system has adapted to the skill and you have learned the most economical way to pull yourself up.
You are prioritizing the outcome over the effectiveness of the exercise. The physical effects are merely a SIDE PRODUCT of your training and not the MAIN PRODUCT.
This is where most people get it backwards. They confuse skill training with real strength training. We talked about this in the handstand video: the main thing you will get out of handstand training is the skill - the physical benefits are merely a side product.
In qualitative training weight, repetitions and skill progressions become completely secondary and often meaningless. You remember the Muhammed Ali quote about sit ups? He got it right.
In qualitative training the quality of your training trumps everything. The main focus of your training is building strength the best way possible - not lifting the most amount of weight or doing the most amount of repetitions.
Weight = not the same as strength.
Repetitions = not the same as strength.
Skill = not the same as strength.
In qualitative training every repetition has to count. Only thing that matters is the exercise that you are doing in the moment and how to use the movement to strengthen your body.
In qualitative training it's not how much you can do, but how well you can do it!
In reality, doing a certain exercise doesn't make you strong. It's HOW you use the exercise that makes you strong. Exercise is merely a tool to help you focus on strengthening yourself.
In qualitative training regular exercises like push ups become incredibly effective. A basic bodyweight squat can be used to strengthen your legs better than almost anything else.
Basics actually work the best but not many are willing to see it because it hurts their egos and illusion of strength. They want to be keep making "progress" with heavy weights instead of "wasting their time" with "easy" bodyweight push ups.
The better you do an exercise, the harder it should look from the outside (the weaker you should look doing it).
If it looks easy - you are not utilizing the exercise correctly. ANY EXERCISE can be made effective and difficult with focus, control, tempo and stabilization.
For this reason, beginner exercises don't mean they are easy exercises. For example, In Movement 20XX online course there are exercises from beginner to advanced. These beginner movements never go out of fashion - beginner merely means it is for both beginner and advanced.
It's the focus of your training that makes all the difference. Compared to the quantitative training, everything is turned inside out.
In qualitative training strength is the main product of your training, everything else is a side product. In quantitative training the skill is the main product, strength is the side product.
With quantitative training tracking your progress is simple: it's just numbers and repetitions. We stated the downfalls of this approach earlier: bad focus and the progress may not be as good as you think (arbitrary).
Qualitative training is very hard and almost impossible to quantify. This is because real strength cannot be accurately measured. There are simply too many attributes to take into consideration, but you will know when you see it.
How to track your progress with qualitative training:
Qualitative training is not something you just learn. It's something you must improve in every training session - just like mind-muscle connection.
Try to focus on feeling the muscle contract and keep improving the quality of your form. You need to either develop self-awareness or have a good coach. A great coach can see your strengths and weaknesses.
All great athletes have developed the focus on quality. Strength & conditioning workouts of athletes are never focused on lifting the most amount of weight. They are focused on improving their physical attributes with the qualitative training.
Qualitative training will ultimately produce the best results but it will take plenty of time to master (it's a lifetime of practice).
In the beginning it's fine to focus on sets x rep schemes and exercise progressions because in the beginning no one is in tune with their bodies. However, you should gradually develop the touch and focus on quality of your training.
Once you "get it", it is the most effective way to strengthen the body. You are building the ultimate strength that will transfer to almost everything you do.
Train hard, stay safe.