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Starting a fitness program can prove challenging with so many people wanting to jump in right away without fully understanding their fitness level, strengths and limitations. Without properly identifying what you need from your program or how much your body can physically handle, you greatly increase your chance of injury. While this may not concern you, consider how an injury can further delay your progress in achieving your goals – not to mention other costs (financial, physical and emotional) associated with recovery.

If you’re already active but looking to increase your program’s intensity you should prepare for a gradual progression to ensure your chances of success. Increasing intensity too quickly can be counterproductive as you risk overuse injuries like tendonitis, bursitis and fasciitis. Your body needs time to adapt to new demands and requires ample rest and recovery between workouts.

Many experts suggest following the 10% rule, increasing your activity – intensity or time – by no more than 10% per week. For instance, if you are performing 10 squats one week, progress to 11 the following week.

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