What is the Principle of Progression in Weight Training & Conditioning?

If you’re trying to build strength, speed, or endurance, advancing your training over time is the key to achieving the results you’re after.

The principle of progression is a powerful tool to advance your fitness. When correctly applied to your fitness routine, progression can help you achieve your goals efficiently and effectively. I mean, who doesn’t want to achieve their fitness goals?

In this article, learn everything you need to know about the principle of progression, and how to use it to achieve your best fitness results yet!

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What is the Principle of Progression?

The principle of progression says that as your body adapts to your fitness routine you have to challenge yourself to keep seeing progress. That challenge could be a variety of things, from increasing your time, intensity, weight, sets, reps, or more.

What these different elements have in common is that they’re all different ways to overload your body. Essentially, overload is a challenge. It’s doing something hard today so your body is stronger tomorrow.

Overload when properly applied means the intensity of your workout or exercise must be high enough above your norm for any desired physical adaptation to occur. When placed in a state of overload, your body responds to the challenge by adapting, rebuilding, and coming back stronger.


What is Progression in Fitness?

As mentioned before, there are many ways to progress in your fitness routine. The way you decide to implement overload in your exercises, workouts, and overall routine will depend on your fitness goals.

For example, if you’re working on building endurance for an upcoming 5K race, the changes you make to your workout routine over time may look different than the changes you make if your goal is to achieve a back squat personal record.

If you’re looking to run a 5K, you may choose to progress by adding time or distance to your runs over several weeks. Whereas if you’re looking to increase your back squat personal record, you may choose to increase your weight lifted over time to become stronger.

It’s important to note that there is both an optimal level of overload and optimal time frame for fitness progression to occur. Overload in any workout routine should be applied gradually. The principle of progression is about taking baby steps, overloading the body in small increments that add up to big results over time.

Why is Exercise Progression Important?

Exercise progression is important if your goal is to increase your strength, speed, or endurance. If you want to see progress, the principle of progression must be used to achieve the results you’re looking for.

However, it’s important to mention it’s okay to make the choice to not implement the principle of progression in your training routine. If you’re simply exercising for maintenance and you’re happy with where you’re at, you don’t need to progress.

It’s okay to stay running at the same speed, cycling at the same resistance, or doing bicep curls with the same amount of weight if you’re satisfied with maintaining your fitness at that level.

Your fitness journey is yours alone, and whether the principle of progression is right for you is up to you to decide. If you want to make a change and see progress, consider it. If you’d like to stay where you’re at, leave it. If you decide progression is for you, keep reading to learn how to incorporate it into your routine.


What is the Principle of Progression in Weight Training & Conditioning?

Now that you know the basics of progression. Let’s talk about using the principle of progression in weight training and conditioning specifically.

If you’re thinking about adding weight training and conditioning to your routine or have been putting in a valiant effort towards your workouts and wondering why you aren’t seeing results, you’re in the right place!

When it comes to strength training, it’s essential that you place a significant overload on your muscles to see physical adaptations such as an increase in muscle strength and size.

What happens when you lift a heavy load - enough to overload your muscles - is tiny tears in the muscle fibers occur. These micro-tears are essential. When your muscles break down and you give them proper rest and recovery, they not only rebuild but adapt to manage that heavy load in the future. This is where real strength and muscle building results come in.


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