What is the Principle of Progression in Fitness Training?

There are three widely known principles of fitness training which athletes and enthusiasts should bear in mind when working towards their fitness goals. Designed not by chance, but through a careful progress of rigorous research and testing, these three principles form the core foundations of designing an effective workout regimen that gets you closer to your fitness goals while taking into account your abilities to do so. These three principles are the principle of specifity which determines how certain exercises target certain muscle groups and achieve varying results; the principle of overload which dictates the kind of stress you should put your body under to achieve results, and the principle of progression, which determines a sort of road map for getting to your goals in a sustainable way.

In this article we will discuss the latter of the three, the principle of progression, to see how it relates to your approach to working out, and what it means for achieving your fitness goals.

The Progression Principle in a Nutshell

At its most basic, the principle of progression will guide the way in which an individual gradually increases their workload when exercising, to steadily and consistently move closer and closer to their goals.

The human body adapts to the stress of an increased workload by breaking down and rebuilding muscle fibers, allowing them to increase in mass and strength. The process is, however, a gradual one.

This is the reason why it is wise to edge gently back into a workout routine if you haven’t been active for a long amount of time. As muscular atrophy sets in from long periods of inactivity, they lose their mass and strength. Getting it back cannot be done in one session; all you will do by pushing yourself too hard in too short a time, is hurt yourself.

And so this principle gets athletes and those designing workout schedules to take a look at how progress is achieved over a long period of time. Setting sub-goals and not progressing to heavier workloads when you aren’t ready to do it yet. You need to give your body time to adapt, and that’s why the progression principle should always be adhered to.

Why The Principle of Progression is a Core Concern?

In terms of reaching your fitness goals, this principle holds a very important concept for fitness. As your body adapts to a workout, it begins to handle the stress with relative ease; essentially plateauing in terms of its development.

Further adaptation, which leads to building more strength, can therefore only be done if the physical stress of exercise is increased incrementally as your body adapts and strengthens.

This means that, in order to achieve better results, athletes need to continuously push themselves harder. If you stick to the same routine, weight and intensity, you will likely see your progress dwindle.

Factoring Progression into Your Workout Plan

This puts the onus on athletes and those who are designing their schedules, to think a little ahead of time when designing schedules. This requires a mixture of careful, long-term planning, as well as commitment to consistency when working out.

Your workout plan should account for the points in your progress where your body will adapt, needing you to increase your workload. Rather than playing this by ear as results come, it is better to cast it in stone, in a workout schedule that sets sub-goals, those points in your progress where it is time to push yourself harder, so that your body can continue to adapt according to the plan you have set.


With the knowledge of the principle of progression in your utility belt, you can design schedules that are more effective, measurable and consistent. If you would like to know more about the intricacies of the professional fitness industry, consider obtaining personal training certificate from our team at the Trifocus Fitness Academy.

Visit our website today to find out more about our offers on fully accredited, online fitness courses, and become the fitness professional you’ve always dreamed of being.

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