At a fundamental level, all forms of exercise are designed to improve the current state of the participant. In our Boulder Physical Therapy practice, we aim to effectively and efficiently prescribe exercise to meet each patient or client’s goals. A key element of any exercise program has to include progressively, increasing demands over time. Flexibility goals must be progressed as the stretch is no longer felt, strength training exercises must become heavier or repetitions must be added as the weight becomes easier, and cardiovascular intensity or duration must be increased as the workout becomes easier.
One of the most rewarding parts of an exercise program is seeing these positive changes contribute to the total work performed each session. For example, a trained aerobic exercise participant can now cover more ground, measured in miles, in a given 30 minute exercise session. Total work can also be easily measured in the weight room. Tracking number of exercises, reps, sets, and weights can give you a better idea of the total weight lifted today compared to when you started the program. On an outdoor training run, variables such as terrain, elevation gain, duration, and speed/intensity can also provide accurate measures of total work.
Tracking your progress with total work can be very rewarding and keep you motivated to continue with your exercise program. Take the time to briefly reflect back on where you started and how far you have come in your training. Conversely, if you don’t see your total work increasing over a given time period you are likely not making progressions in your exercise prescription. Seek out help with a local Physical Therapist to better reach your goals through gradual progressions each week. Remember as Greg LeMond once said, “It never gets easier, you just go faster”, by increasing your work tolerance over a given time.