When should I progress in my exercise program?

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

What is the lactate threshold?
Michael Bergeron, PhDMichael Bergeron, PhD
Lactate threshold (LT) reflects the exercise intensity at which the concentration of lactate in the ...
More Answers
When should I do plyometric exercises?
National Academy of Sports MedicineNational Academy of Sports Medicine
To get the most out of your plyometric exercises, you should perform them toward the beginning of a ...
More Answers
How do I determine my fitness level?
Dr. Michael Roizen, MDDr. Michael Roizen, MD
There are three exercise factors that reveal a lot about a person's risk of death and disability -- ...
More Answers
How can I assess my strength?
Aaron Nelson Aaron Nelson
First of all it is very important that when you are assessing strength you have someone with you. If...
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.