Getting back to Exercise after the Holiday Break: Here’s what to consider……

Managing increases in exercise loads when starting a new exercise program is crucial to avoid overtraining, injuries, and burnout.

Remember that everyone’s body is different, and it’s important to find a progression plan that suits your individual needs and fitness level. If you have any existing health concerns or conditions, it’s advisable to consult with a healthcare professional before starting a new exercise program.

Here are some tips to help you effectively progress and manage your increasing exercise loads:


Here are the things your need to consider:

Assessment and Planning:

  • Before starting a new exercise program, assess your current fitness level. This could include strength, flexibility, cardiovascular fitness, and any pre-existing injuries or health conditions.
  • Based on your assessment, develop a well-structured exercise plan that includes specific goals, the type of exercises you’ll be doing, and the frequency of your workouts.
  • Consult with your physio if unsure at this stage

Set Realistic Goals:

  • Define clear, achievable short-term and long-term goals. This will help you stay focused and motivated while providing direction for your progression.

Start Slowly

  • Begin with a lower intensity and volume to allow your body to adapt to the new demands. Gradually increase the difficulty over time.

Listen to Your Body:

  • Pay attention to how your body responds to exercise. If you experience persistent pain, fatigue, or discomfort, it might be a sign to decrease intensity or take a rest day or consult your physio.

Progress Gradually:

  • Increase either the intensity, duration/volume and frequency of your workouts, but not all at once. Small, incremental changes are key to preventing overtraining and reducing the risk of injury.
  • Consider incorporating periodization into your training plan. This involves dividing your training program into different phases, each with a specific focus. This helps prevent plateaus and reduces the risk of overtraining.
  • Incorporate structured phases within your program, such as a hypertrophy phase, strength phase, and power phase. Each phase can have different rep ranges, intensities, and focuses to ensure a progressive and systematic approach.

Consider: Intensity, Duration/Volume, and Frequency:

  • Intensity: Gradually increase the resistance, speed, or difficulty of your exercises. This could involve adding weight, increasing the incline, or progressing to more challenging variations.
  • Duration/Volume: Extend the length of your workouts gradually. This can involve adding more time to your cardio sessions or increasing the number of sets, repetitions or time under load for strength training exercises. However, avoid significant increases all at once to prevent overtraining.
  • Frequency: Increase the number of workouts per week gradually. Start with a manageable workout frequency and gradually increase the number of sessions per week. This allows your body to adapt to the increased workload over time. Allow your body time to recover by incorporating rest days into your routine. Recovery is essential for muscle repair and overall well-being.

Applying the 10% Rule:

  • Consider the “10% rule” when increasing intensity or volume. This guideline suggests not increasing your workload by more than 10% at a time to avoid sudden spikes in stress on your body.


  • Mix up your workouts to avoid overloading specific muscle groups. Cross-training can help prevent overuse injuries and keep your exercise routine interesting.

Warm-up and Cool Down:

  • Prioritize warm-up and cool-down activities to prepare your body for exercise and facilitate recovery afterward. This can include dynamic stretches, light cardio, and foam rolling.

Recovery Strategies:

  • Include active recovery days where you engage in low-intensity activities like walking or yoga.
  • Consider incorporating techniques such as foam rolling, massage, or ice baths to aid in muscle recovery.
  • Scheduled Recovery: Plan recovery weeks or deload phases into your program. This involves reducing the intensity and volume to allow your body to recover fully before pushing it again.
  • Active Recovery: Incorporate light activities or active recovery during rest days to maintain blood flow and flexibility without overloading your muscles.

Stay Hydrated and Nourished:

  • Proper hydration and nutrition are essential for optimal performance and recovery. Ensure you are consuming enough water and a well-balanced diet to support your increased activity levels.
  • Ensure you’re fueling your body with a balanced diet that supports your energy needs.
  • Hydrate adequately, especially as you increase your exercise intensity and duration.
  • Consult with a Dietitian if unsure about your energy demands.

Get Enough Sleep:

  • Quality sleep is crucial for recovery and overall health. Aim for 7-9 hours of sleep per night, especially when engaging in regular physical activity.
  • Prioritize quality sleep to allow for proper recovery and muscle repair.
  • If you’re feeling fatigued, consider scheduling rest days or active recovery to prevent burnout.

Monitor Progress:

  • Keep a workout log to track your progress. This will help you assess whether you’re gradually increasing loads appropriately and meeting your fitness goals.
  • Regularly assess your progress and be flexible with your plan. If you’re consistently fatigued or experiencing pain, it might be necessary to scale back temporarily.
  • Adjust your plan based on how your body responds and any changes in your overall health.

Remember, patience is crucial when starting a new exercise program. Progress may take time, but a gradual and systematic approach is more sustainable and reduces the risk of setbacks. Listen to your body, and don’t hesitate to seek guidance from professionals if needed.


For people specifically starting Strength Training:

  • Begin with lighter weights and higher repetitions. As you progress, gradually increase the resistance while maintaining proper form.
  • Incorporate compound movements that work multiple muscle groups to maximize efficiency.
  • Incremental Resistance: Gradually increase the weight you lift as your muscles adapt. Start with a weight that allows you to complete the desired number of repetitions with proper form and add resistance in small increments as you get stronger.
  • Progressive Overload: Aim to progressively overload your muscles by challenging them beyond their accustomed levels. This can involve increasing the number of sets or repetitions, or decreasing rest intervals between sets.

For people specifically starting Cardiovascular Exercise:

  • Start with moderate-intensity cardio and progressively increase the duration and intensity. This could involve increasing your running pace, cycling speed, or the resistance on the elliptical machine.
  • Gradual Intensity Increase: Start with a moderate-intensity cardio routine and gradually increase the intensity. This can be achieved by increasing your speed, incline, or resistance.
  • Interval Training: Incorporate interval training where you alternate between periods of high and low intensity. As your cardiovascular fitness improves, increase the duration or intensity of the high-intensity intervals.

For people specifically starting Flexibility and Mobility Training:

  • Include dynamic stretches in your warm-up to improve flexibility and mobility.
  • Gradually progress to more advanced stretching techniques, but avoid forcing your body into uncomfortable positions to prevent injury.
  • Progressive Stretching: Begin with dynamic stretches during your warm-up and gradually progress to more advanced static stretches. Focus on increasing the range of motion over time.
  • Mobility Exercises: Integrate mobility exercises into your routine to address specific joint movements. Gradually increase the difficulty of these exercises as your mobility improves.

By strategically implementing progressive load increments, you not only reduce the risk of overtraining and injuries but also ensure a steady improvement in performance and overall fitness. Remember that the key is to challenge your body progressively, allowing it to adapt and grow stronger over time.

For any further advice, feel free to contact us at Move for Life Physio.


Neeraj Kochhar

Senior Physiotherapist – Move for life Physio and Health Hub


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