8 Ways to Progress Your Exercise Routine

It’s important to change up your exercise routine from time to time. This ensures that your body continues to be challenged enough to make you get fitter and stronger. You don’t always need to change it completely, as long as you understand how to tweak things along the way.

It’s important to note that you should only make one small change to your exercise routine at a time and that the changes you make are small. This helps ensure that you don’t ‘overreach’ or go into ‘overtraining’ mode where your results would be slowed, or even reversed. 

Choose one of these ideas at a time to gradually progress your routine:

  1. Increase workout duration

You could choose to increase the time you are working out for. If you’re a runner for example, you might choose to increase the duration of one of your runs from 25 to 30 minutes.

  1. Increase the load

The load is the amount of weight you are lifting. If you have a gym program you might choose one exercise that you feel like you could do more on, and do the next weight up for that exercise. This also applies in fitness classes like CrossFit where you lift weights. Note that you may need to decrease your repetitions when you first move on to a new weight.

  1. Increase the repetitions

In your gym program you might increase your repetitions from 10 to 12 for example. Note that your repetitions should still stay within the range that reflects the goals of your program. If your repetitions are increasing too much it means you need to lift a heavier weight!

  1. Decrease stability

Decreasing the stability of an exercise is an intermediate-advanced way to progress your exercise routine. It requires your core muscles to work harder. If you do squats in your program, you could decrease the stability by doing a one legged squat. Note that you will certainly need to decrease, and perhaps eliminate the weight altogether when making a progression such as this. Another way to decrease the stability of an exercise such as a squat is to do it on top of a balance board (on two legs!).

  1. Increase complexity

Exercises can be made more complex by combining movement patterns with one another. For example, a basic lunge could become a lunge with a twist at the bottom of the movement.

  1. Add intervals or hills

If you’re doing cardio work as part of your fitness program, you can progress by moving from steady state training (e.g. going the same speed throughout) to interval or hill training. This involves having short bursts of harder work periods throughout your session

  1. Decrease rest time

Decreasing the rest time between intervals in your cardio program, or between sets or exercises in your weights program will make your body work harder. It’s important that the work and rest ratios still stay in line with your program objectives.

  1. Progress from machine weights to free weights

Free weights require better body co-ordination and control than machine weights and they work the core muscles effectively. Make sure you have good technique on any particular exercise before progressing to free weights. You’ll also need to decrease your weight when you first make the switch.

Check out our discovery section for fitness centers and trainers who can help you progress your exercise routine safely and effectively.

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