The Importance of Exercise Progression

New members are very excited about the idea of finally starting a martial fitness program and we are as equally excited for them. The benefits of participating in a structured exercise and fitness program has been documented many times over and is scientifically proven to reduce body fat, increase cardiovascular performance and well being, as well as reduce the probability of illnesses such as hypertension, diabetes, and obesity. If you are reading this article, you probably already know that. However, in my 15 plus years as a recreation and fitness professional, I have witnessed a phenomenon that has previously been termed the “all or nothing” principal of working out. What this primarily consists of is a mentality that an exerciser must go hard or go home from the very beginning. Often times these individuals attempt to train at the level that they did at a previous time of life where they were in better shape, or they train at a level that they erroneously believe they should be working at through comparisons to other people. Many people start out their programs with far too much intensity and volume, creating workouts that they are not physically prepared for nor are able to continue for any length of time in which benefits can be realized.

All of nothing training typically results in one of the following:

  1. The exerciser gets injured from overloading the body with the wrong workload
  2. The exerciser works through the pain; only to tear down the body in a way that does not allow the proper recovery to see benefits
  3. The exerciser is not able to continue the workload for any length of time and falls out of the program, making it impossible to reap any benefits from working out.

None of these scenarios are what any new or returning exerciser is looking for. I can confidently say that these are the results that one would have with an “all or nothing” training mentality. So what should one do? First you must understand the concept of progressive overload. By overloading the systems of the body, they are stimulated to improve as a way of survival. Performing cardio exercises increase cardiac efficiency. Strength training increases muscle cross sectional diameter and strength levels. The proper way to overload the body’s physiological systems is through progressing at a slower pace, starting with workloads that are minimally challenging and slowly increasing over time to loads and intensities that are more challenging. Rest is an essential component to getting in shape and doing any kind of work out. It enables your body to acclimate to the stresses of training so you can reap the benefits of your hard work. There is only one way to change one’s physique and that is to train consistently, progressively, and over a period of time. Patience and humility is the key to acquiring your fitness goals and remember; there is no loss for those who come to win!

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