When you’re new to exercise, fitness gains come quickly. But once you put on your running shoes or start exercising regularly, you need to work harder to challenge your stronger, more efficient body. You can achieve this by changing the intensity, duration and frequency of your exercises. The trick is to avoid overdoing it to the point of injury or burnout.
Make a smart and safe transition with these 5 tips
1 Assess your current fitness level
Start by assessing your current situation, as well as your strengths and weaknesses.
What you already do (exercise mode), including cardio exercises and strength training.
The intensity of your efforts (intensity)
How often you do it (frequency)
The duration of the exercise (duration)
Set new goals
2 Then look where you want to be
What specific and realistic goals can you set for yourself to improve your fitness? Maybe you can jog or swim for 45 minutes instead of 30. Or you could add flexibility exercises to your routine. Maybe you want to train for an event such as a 10k or a minitriathlon.
3 Do more
The best way to improve your physical condition is to increase the intensity of your exercises. Intensity refers to the effort you put in. The fitter you are, the more you need to exercise to feel energized and get results. By pushing yourself out of your comfort zone, you’ll get the most effective workout possible, which is important, especially if you don’t have a lot of time that day to train. If you train at a lower intensity, you will need to do longer or more frequent sessions to get the same effects on your fitness. To progress, first increase the frequency of your activity (number of days per week). As you get fitter, increase the duration of each workout and finally the intensity.
4 Increase the intensity of your workout
Move faster. Walk faster or start running if you have walked or jogged before. The faster you move your body, the more work you will do in a given time.
Add a vertical challenge. Run or walk on hills, or increase the incline on a treadmill. Add a step stool for aerobics.
Increase resistance. Increase pedaling resistance on a bicycle. For strength training, gradually lift more weight.
Cross training. Take part in a variety of activities, some of which are more demanding or more vigorous.
Try interval training. It involves interspersing short bursts of high-intensity activity (like a 10-second sprint) with intervals of low-to-moderate intensity activity, like walking.
5 But Don’t Overdo It
If you exercise for several hours a day every day, you run the risk of an overuse injury or fatigue and exhaustion and you won’t produce many additional fitness gains. To avoid overtraining, gradually increase the total time, distance or intensity of your exercises. Alternate hard and easy workouts from day to day, and schedule rest and recovery periods.
Once you’ve reached a new level of fitness, take a moment to congratulate yourself on how far you’ve come!
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