Picture the following: Someone starts a workout program, and in the beginning they move toward their goal. Whether that goal is to become a better athlete, to improve general fitness or to lose weight, many people are able to make progress toward these goals in the beginning.
As time passes, their progress stalls, they lose confidence and quit their workout program. One key workout component that may be holding these people back is that they fail to incorporate some form of progression into their workouts.
No matter what your goals may be, you should always include gradual progression in your workouts. Progression can come in many forms, such as adding time to your walk or run, adding more weight on the bar in your weight-lifting routine, or increasing the pace on your swim or bike.
You need to look for ways to either add some time or intensity to your workouts. Your body needs to be challenged to continue to make improvements. If you keep doing the same old workouts, for the exact same amount of time and at the exact same intensity level, your body will eventually stop making progress.
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Imagine someone walks for 10 minutes every other day. In the beginning, that may work fine, because they are going from nothing to something. They are progressing from 0 minutes of exercise to 10 minutes of exercise.
If they want to continue to improve their fitness they will eventually need to either add some time or intensity to their walking program. One way would be to add 2 minutes to their walk every week. Another option would be to add some intensity by walking at a faster pace.
Here are some tips for progression:
▪ Add time before intensity. Give your body time to get used to the activity before you crank up the difficulty.
▪ At any one time choose between time or intensity, not both. Increasing both simultaneously can lead to injury.
▪ Progression should be a gradual process. Making huge leaps in time or intensity can lead to injury. Think adding 5 pounds at a time to your weights instead 50, or 5 minutes to your walk instead of 20.
▪ If your only goal is to maintain your current fitness level, progression may not be important.
Grant Gensheimer is an exercise physiologist with Baptist HealthwoRx Fitness and Wellness Center at Lexington Green Mall.