Progression is Everything: How to Use it in Your Fitness Journey


Please note: Before starting any exercise plan or program, please consult with your primary care physician for your health and safety.

It’s not a secret that incorporating fitness and activity into your routine will help you in your weight management efforts. Recommended activity levels from the American Heart Association and the American College of Sports Medicine encourage at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise a day, at least five days a week. They also recommend 2-3 days a week of strength and resistance-based exercise.

However, here’s something that standard recommendations don’t tell you: fitness and physical activity require progression. We don’t wake up one day with the skills and endurance needed to improve our fitness level. Progression takes time and it is part of the fitness journey.

How to Use Progression in Your Fitness Journey

Look at Your Starting Point. We all start our weight and fitness journeys at different places, skills, abilities, health issues, likes and dislikes. Your starting point will help you adjust fitness recommendations to meet your needs.

Set Specific Short-term Goals. You can accomplish smaller short-term goals on your way to achieving your bigger ones. For example:

  • Start with low-impact exercises that match your current fitness level.
  • Exercise for 15 or 20 minutes a day, three days a week.
  • Add another day once you’ve achieved that goal for 2-3 weeks.
  • Add five minutes, etc. once you’ve worked your way up to five days a week.

Focus on Proper Form and Technique. Your exercise regimen should be designed around your skills, ability and current fitness level. If you can’t do a workout using proper form or technique (ex: doing 50 squats a day or a set of 20 push-ups), you should take a step back and shift your attention to something you ARE able to do. If you don’t know the proper form of an exercise, ask someone to show you to avoid the risk of injury.

Listen to Your Body. If you’re ever in pain, or you find that a workout is too difficult to complete, slow down. Start up again with smaller duration, frequency or intensity.

Keep an Exercise Journal. Use it to log your workouts (include the activity, duration, frequency, and intensity), track your progress and see improvement with time.

Continue to Challenge Yourself, but Keep it Realistic. Seek out new activities and physical challenges that will help you grow your fitness level.

For more tips on using progression in your fitness journey, click here to read the full article from the Obesity Action Coalition (OAC), Producer of the Your Weight Matters Campaign.

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