When should I progress in my exercise program?

Dr. Mike Clark, DPT
Dr. Mike Clark, DPT
One thing that most fitness professionals understand better than anyone else is how and when to progress a client. I want to let you in on the secret to progressions! Progression is inevitable if you are exercising correctly. When you progress, you are changing one or more components that will increase an exercise's difficulty; increasing the intensity (or load) you are using to perform an exercise or increasing the amount of days you are performing an exercise routine. Although you may not have access to a person who can tell you when you are ready for a progression, there are a few secrets and tricks from professionals that you can use.

First, it's time to progress if the exercise begins to feel easy. When you begin an exercise, it may feel hard. You'll begin to burn within the first few repetitions, and you may notice that you're shaking a little. When you are ready to enhance the exercise, you may not feel these sensations, or you may feel them only after you have completed two or more sets. If this occurs -- progress yourself!

Second, you can increase your intensity (load) during an exercise if, at the end of the recommended sets and repetitions, you do not feel tired. If you feel like you can pump out a few more reps, you are ready to progress the weight. Progress in increments of two-and-a-half to five pounds at a time.

Third, if you gain energy and feel less tired and fatigued at the end of a week, you can add a training day. There is one caveat, however, rest for forty-eight hours between your resistance-training sessions. Also, if you add a cardio-training session, do not perform your high-level interval training sessions two days in a row. Your body needs time to repair and recover. This is when change happens, so allow your body time to rest!

Continue Learning about Evaluating & Measuring Fitness

Why should I track my exercise progress?
Documenting your exercising routine is essential because it enables you to see progress. Learn more ...
More Answers
What does the push up test measure?
What does the push up test measure? The push up test measures muscular endurance of the upper body. ...
More Answers
Why is waist-hip ratio important?
Avoiding an expanding waistline is one way to reduce the risk of heart disease and metabolic syndrom...
More Answers
How do I measure my metabolic rate when exercising?
How do I measure my metabolic rate when exercising? One way to estimate METs is by "sweat time": Try...
More Answers

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.