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The challenge of the next step

The challenge of the next step

Fitness expert Sarah Cowley explains why you need to gear up to see results.

In order to challenge yourself to become stronger and see results when exercising, a level of progressive overload is required.

Progressive overload in training is important to make improvements in your strength and cardiovascular fitness.

Progressive overload is defined as an incremental increase in stress placed on the body during exercise training. You can induce stress on your system by increasing volume, distance or intensity.

You will see progressive overload reflected in our 2019 Kick-start fitness programme — each week adds either more volume or increases the intensity of intervals or repetitions.

Progressive means step by step. A fitness journey is a gradual process which can be frustrating at times, but if we go too full-on without preparing our body to handle increased loads, we might quit or end up injured. Play the long game because small steps create long-term differences to your life.

Once you’ve reached your comfort zone, the aim is to put yourself back out of it, to continue to make positive health changes.

Overloading your system can be a delicate balance, so listen to your body and your mind. Know that level of discomfort you can push through and pay attention to that level of discomfort you can’t push through. It’s ok to drop down a gear for a while, to build your endurance and strength, before gearing up to continue to progress.

Your step-up monthly challenge

Here are some ways to think about how you can progressively overload using your Kick-start programme and beyond:

  • Can you add two more reps on a few exercises to your bodyweight circuit?
  • Are you able to get more depth in your bodyweight squats?
  • Can you increase your pace to go further on your walk or run in the same amount of time?
  • Go well overloading your body and mind to build a fitter healthier version of you.
First published: Oct 2019

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