The 5 Reasons It is Important to Ease Back Into An Exercise Programme

Exercise is an extremely challenging activity for a great deal of us. Over 80% of Americans do not reach the recommended 150 minute of moderate exercise a week guideline, making it crucial that more is done to help people exercise on a regular basis. In this article I am going to discuss why it is so important to ease into an exercise training programme rather than starting with a high intensity to begin with.

4 min read
Sean Klein
Written by
Sean Klein
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In This Resource
  • Reversibility
  • Muscular Soreness
  • Enjoyment
  • Injury + Technique
  • Successful Habit Building


The principle of reversibility is crucial to understanding why easing back into training is important. The reversibility principle states that when we do not use a physical attribute it atrophies (gets worse). This is often known as the “use it or lose it” principle. We see this with both muscle loss and loss of cardiovascular conditioning.

A good example here, although extreme, is when someone has a cast on a part of their body. After two weeks the muscles under this cast will atrophy so significantly that you will be able to visibly see a difference. This is because the principle of reversibility is at play and it is causing atrophy (muscle loss). The same principle applies to our cardiovascular system, when we are sedentary and never stress our cardiovascular system we lower our VO2max (maximal oxygen intake).

The reversibility principle help us understand why picking up exercise again or starting for the first time is so challenging. It is because our physiological capabilities decline when we do not use them, meaning most forms of exercises will be far more difficult than for someone who exercises regularly.

Muscular Soreness

The muscle soreness that occurs after starting an exercise programme after a long period off can be very challenging. When we haven’t used muscles at any intensity for prolonged periods of time and then ask them to contract under load it can create very high levels of soreness.

Even if we ease into training, not making it too challenging, it will still create high levels of muscular soreness. When we do not ease in, and perform very challenging sessions from the first session we will create so much soreness that it will make normal life difficult for the next few days. This level of soreness is not optimal as it creates too much fatigue when compared to the amount of adaptation that is created and makes sustainable training difficult to perform.


Intensity is enjoyable when you are physically prepared for it, when it is layered over time. When however you are thrown into the deep end with a workout that you are not physically prepared to perform, it can be deeply demotivating and unenjoyable.

Have you ever ran a 10k with no running experience. This is not an enjoyable challenge, it is painful for the sake of it. Training appropriatly for a 10k race with a few months preperation is very enjoyable however. The same thing can be said for your exercise routine, start at the beginning, not at where you want to be and it will be a great deal more enjoyable and therefore sustainable.

Injury + Technique

When we apply to much load too early on, we put ourselves at risk of technical breakdown and injury. This can be with strength or cardiovascular training. How often have you heard of people getting injured as they have tried to get into running or strength training. The body responds when we provide it a stimulus, if this stimulus is too much for what we are prepared for the body will often respond with pain and rightly so as it may help avoid longer term injuries. Too much load too early on in strength training in particular will make it very difficult to achieve technical excellence. Especially if we are not already highly skilled at all the movements within resistance training.

Successful Habit Building

All of this leads to the most important negative aspect about diving into too much intensity too early on. That is not forming the sustainable habit. All these factors add up to make it much harder to build a sustainable training programme. When we do a training session that was horribly uncomfortable, that makes us sore for days preventing us from performing the second session we had planned, the last thing we want to do is go back and do it all again.

The problem is, just like with dieting, that we become too intense too soon and it creates this yoyo effect. We exercise to much then drop of completely and end up on this road to nowhere when it comes to physical health. This is not conducive to building long term health. Start light, start easy and build over the span of years, not weeks and you will find long term success.

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This resource was written by Sean Klein. Sean Richard Klein has thousands of hours of coaching experience and a BSc in Sports Science with Management from Loughborough University. He owns a gym in Bayonne France, CrossFit Essor, which runs group classes and a Personal training studio.

Sean Klein


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