How to keep improving when exercising

Embarking on a new journey – like starting to exercise for the first time or learning a new skill – can seem really difficult when you’re at the starting line. You can be overwhelmed with anticipation, fear of failure and more. The good news is, it’s not all an uphill battle. In fact, there are many benefits to be experienced at each stage of the journey.

When it comes to achieving exercise milestones, getting over the first hurdle and bedding down a new habit of exercising has many benefits to enjoy. For instance, when you reach that first stage where exercising goes from feeling tough to being pleasant, you will likely notice that you have more energy, it’s easier to keep warm during winter and the general feeling of wellbeing you reap from regular exercise is just amazing.

Woman sitting on pilates mat

By exercising you’re looking after yourself and your body in a way that rewards you in so many ways! However this feeling of wellbeing and ease can sometimes be so great that it becomes an obstacle for you to reach your goal – whether that be shaping your body, reaching a certain level of endurance or building strength.

Whether you struggle with maintaining a healthy weight and have just started to do exercise or you’ve always been fit and in a great condition, it’s important to keep progressing your fitness level by setting yourself new goals, new milestones and new challenges.

Setting yourself new goals is important because the body adapts and adjusts. If you usually work out two times a week and you’ve been doing so for the last month, your body will be perfectly okay with it and do it without much effort. The more you do something, the easier it gets so the intensity you’re applying when doing something will drop over time, which means that you will stop seeing progression and results.

Therefore, although you reap the fruits of feeling great and being healthy by exercising at a pleasant level, it might not going to be enough to get you to your goal. Instead you need to keep on overloading your body (gently) to make sure you’re still burning a high number of calories and are increasing your physical form.

How to progress

  • If you’re only just beginning your journey of exercising then keep progressing your programme length by 5-10% per week until 60 minutes are can be completed. Don’t start by increasing your intensity before you’ve reach a good level of condition and can do exercising for a minimum of an hour. That’s the first step.
  • Once you’ve reached a better level of condition you are ready to start working on the intensity. If you’re walking, next step my be to just walk with hand held weights or walking poles (simulating the arm action in cross- country skiing) or alternatively using a weight vest. After this you may be able to progress into running some of the route and little by little hopefully be able to run the whole way.
  • When you’re at a level where you’re in a good physical form, that’s the time you will be ready to work out at vigorous intensity. This opens up for doing more time efficient workouts, as you’ll be able to achieve higher energy expenditure in a shorter amount of time by doing certain workouts. If you do something like interval training for instance that even helps to increase the calorie expenditure in the hours after exercising as well (as will most forms of high-intensity work outs). There are many ways of increasing the intensity – doing HIIT training, interval training or maybe even just going for your normal run a little bit faster than normal. It’s all about what you like to do and then turn it up a notch.
  • Also it’s always a good idea to mix up your training routine a little so you keep on being challenged and don’t get bored, but also to ensure that you’re working the whole body.  This can also be a way for you to intensify your training as different exercises have different intensity levels – cycling is said to be harder than playing double tennis for instance, yet running is said to be harder than cycling. We’re all different, with different bodies and preferences so there is no one size fit’s all. It’s all about you finding what’s right for you and figure out how make your exercises a great experience even though you need to challenge yourself, and overload the system once in a while.

Little tips
In summary here are a few tips to remember when you’re progressing your fitness

  • Progress gradually
  • Start by increasing your cardio vascular system – (get to a point where you can work out for longer at a moderate pace before you start increasing your intensity).
  • An increase in duration of approximately 5-10% per week is generally a suitable.
  • Never increase duration and intensity in the same session.
  • Mix up your exercises and make it fun
  • Find an exercising partner to challenge and inspire you to work a little bit harder – and to have fun with of course