Many people do the same workouts day in and day out, week after week. The problem with this is that the body needs a progressive overload; it needs to be continuously challenged. Without this overload, the body doesn’t receive the stress that in needs and in turn adapts to the exercises, and fitness levels remain stagnant. The key to getting positive and continuous results from your workouts is to progress your workouts each and every time. Here are our top five tips on exercise progression and how to progress your workouts:
Increasing your weight is a fairly obvious and easy way to progress your workouts. For example, if you always do bicep curls with 15 pounds, go up to 20 pounds next time you perform bicep curls, even if means you have to do fewer reps. Consistently going up in weight every week or every time you do a particular exercise (biceps curls for example) is a great and simple way to provide your body with an overload and progress your workouts.
Increasing your repetitions is also a great way to easily progress your workouts. Going back to the bicep curls as an example, if you always do 15 reps with 15 pounds, try increasing your reps, even if it’s just by one rep. Just like increasing your weight, increasing your reps every time you do a particular exercise are also creates a positive stress on the body and progresses your workouts effectively.
Doing exercises for a specific amount of time is also a great way to achieve exercise progression. For example, instead of counting reps, you can do exercises for a certain amount of time and increase the time every week. For example, you can start with 30 seconds for each exercise and increase by 5 seconds every week. You can also apply this to your cardio workouts. If you do interval work, increase the time of your intervals so you are working hard for a longer amount of time. Increasing the time with either weights or cardio will greatly increase the intensity of your workout and have a positive effect on your workouts.
Speed is another great variable to use to progress your workouts. Rather than just going through the motions of your workout, focus on performing your exercises by reducing the speed of each repetition on the eccentric motion. For example, you could perform a set bench press by slowing each rep down to a five-second count on the way down; this is also called a negative set. This tactic can be applied to any exercise, and by doing so, you will absolutely place a new stress on your body that will push your workouts along in a positive way.
5. Exercise Order/Selection
Another great way to challenge your body and your workouts is to change the order and selection of your exercises. There are many ways to do this, but we’ll touch upon compound and supersets as two very easy and effective ways to change things up and create a progressive overload.
Compound: A compound set is achieved by selecting two exercises that focus on the same muscle group and performing them back to back. For example, if you wanted to focus on your chest, you could do a set of bench press followed by pushups. Or if you wanted to focus on triceps, you could do a set of bench dips followed by cable pushdowns. This is not only a great way to give each muscle group more attention, but it’s also a very effective way to change and progress your programming.
Supersets: A superset is achieved by performing two exercises of opposite muscle groups back to back without any rest. For example, you could do a set of bench press and immediately follow with a set of bent-over rows. Not only is this a great way to challenge your body, but it’s also an excellent way to perform more exercises in a shorter amount of time.
If you’re frustrated with the lack of results you are getting from your current workout program, you now have five different ways to progress your workouts. Keep in mind that you don’t have to apply every tip to your current workout. Pick one variable and try it out for a month or so, and then move on to another form of progression. Keep it simple, and remember: The key to getting positive and continuous results from your workouts is to progress your workouts each and every time.
Jason DeHenzel has trained some of New York’s most prestigious clients, including high-profile lawyers, advertising executives, movie producers and musicians. Sophie DeHenzel is a Pn1-certified nutritionist and former downhill ski racer. The pair founded DeHenzel Training Systems to develop customized fitness plans for clients of different abilities, experience and commitment. Find out more at dtsnova.com.