What are the stages of progression?

The principle of progression says that you must gradually increase the workload in your exercise routine for improvement to continue. Most stages of progression include initial conditioning, improvement and maintenance stages.

What is the initial conditioning stage of progression?

This stage typically lasts for about the first six weeks of training and it serves to familiarise the client with exercise training. During this phase stretching exercises, low-intensity aerobic and light resistance exercises should be prescribed.

Have your clients improve their duration of the exercise first and then the intensity. (The initial stage of the exercise programme may be skipped at first for some clients provided that their initial fitness level is good enough that they are used to the different modes that are prescribed for their exercise programme.)

What is the improvement stage of progression?

This stage usually lasts for the next four to eight months of the exercise programme and the rate of progression is more rapid than the initial conditioning stage. During this stage the frequency, intensity and duration are systematically and slowly advanced one element at a time until the client’s fitness goals are reached.

What is the maintenance stage of progression?

This stage is designed to preserve the level that is achieved in the improvement stage. The maintenance stage should be continued on a regular, long-term basis. The amount of exercise required to maintain the client’s physical fitness level is less than what is needed to improve specific fitness components.

This means that the frequency used to develop a specific model of fitness can be decreased and the mode replaced with other types of physical activity, for example at the end of an improvement stage, a client may be jogging five days a week. For the maintenance stage the client jogging may be reduced to two to three days per week and different types of cardio used to supplement the other days.

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Appropriate exercises for each stage of progression

Different exercises benefit different people, depending on their fitness levels and injuries. For example, a large muscular person will benefit more from rowing in which there is little impact on the joints and they can employ large amounts of muscle mass. Running, however, involves constant impact and is more likely to cause injury.

When to train

Everybody has a preferred time of the day to train. If you train first thing in the morning before eating, you will burn straight into your fat stores as your glycogen stores – which you usually use in the first 15 minutes of exercise – will have depleted overnight.

If you’re training to increase your energy level, you may want to train during the afternoon. And to have a good night’s rest you may want to train later in the day towards the evening.

Cardio-respiratory programmes

If you intend to run a marathon, take part in a triathlon or simply improve your general health and fitness to deal with everyday demands, cardiovascular training has the added advantage of promoting well-being.

Cardiovascular exercise has a beneficial effect on the body as it promotes weight loss and enables the heart and lungs to work more effectively and become stronger. It will help to increase bone density, reduce stress and decrease the risk of heart disease and some cancers.

Regular cardiovascular exercise relieves depression, increases levels of confidence, improves sleep patterns and gives one more energy in order to be able to combat challenges at home as well as at work. It also can lower cholesterol and blood pressure levels.

For athletic performance, the more cardiovascular exercise one does, the faster the heart will recover and metabolise glucose to give the muscles the energy that they need. One of the most crucial components of physical fitness is cardiorespiratory endurance which is the ability to perform dynamic exercise that involves large muscle groups at moderate to high intensity for a prolonged period of time. Every physical fitness evaluation should include cardiorespiratory assessments.

It is vital for every personal trainer out there to know about the various stages of progression and how to get a handle on this for the benefits of their clients.

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