Exercise training is crucial for successful weight loss, long-term weight management, and overall good health. In order to develop an effective exercise training program you must adhere to certain basic guidelines. To get you started, here are seven principles of exercise that you can implement whether you’re a weekend walker or seasoned athlete.

1. Progression

Gradually increase your exercise intensity (how hard you work) and/or duration (how long you work out) in order to improve your fitness levels. For instance, if your fitness goals are centered on losing weight, 30 minutes of leisure walking (2.0-2.5 mph) won’t cut it as you will not burn a sufficient amount of calories. However, if you walk at a more moderate pace (3.0-3.5 mph) for 60 or more minutes you’ll burn the calories necessary for achieving your weight loss goals.

Related Article: Target Heart Rate: Are You Working Out Hard Enough?

2. Regularity

Exercise often. Shoot for at least four days of cardiovascular (cardio) exercise (jogging, running, bicycling, stair-climbing, and group exercise) and two days of resistance training using free-weights, kettlebells, universal machines, rubber tubing or even your own body weight. Infrequent exercise will do you more harm than good. You should also implement regularity in your daily eating and work/rest patterns.

Related Article: How to Perform Cardio Exercise the Right Way

3. Overload

In order to improve your health and fitness levels, ensure that the amount of work you perform during any exercise session exceeds the normal demands that you place on your body. If you’re looking for some real results, you’ll have to put in some real effort. For example, if you walk to work or school at a 2.5 mph pace, treadmill walking at this same pace during an exercise session won’t be of much benefit to you. But, if you add a 1-2% incline to your treadmill walk, you can successfully overload your body and achieve the results you’re looking for.

Related Article: How to Get More Out of Your Walk for Weight Loss

4. Variety

Even the most perfect exercise program will become stale after a while. To stop this from happening, implement a variety of exercise activities so that you don’t get bored. Try breaking away from “traditional” exercise on occasion. Go for a four-mile hike or play a game of tennis. Such activities are equally as effective as structured exercise. Adding variety will also increase your motivation and progress. Your muscles have memory cells that may become unresponsive if they are not shocked occasionally with a change in routine.

Related Article: Why You Need to Change Your Exercise Routine Regularly

5. Recovery

After a hard day of exercise training, give yourself an easier training day or rest day to help permit adequate recovery. For example, if you engage in a highly intense bout of running on Monday, follow up with moderate-intensity biking on Tuesday. Likewise, if you perform heavy weightlifting on Wednesday, take a day off or work an alternate muscle group on Thursday.

Related Article: Do Massages Help with Recovery?

6. Balance

An effective exercise program is one that includes activities that address both the cardiovascular system and the musculoskeletal system. Cardio exercise and spontaneous physical activity reduce body fat and enhance the efficiency and functional capacity of your heart, lungs, and blood vessels in order to ensure that your body is able to deliver the necessary oxygen, nutrients, and hormones to your body’s organs. On the flip side, resistance training regulates metabolism and improves muscle tone, strength, and endurance while flexibility exercises improve joint stability and integrity.

Related Article: Spontaneous Physical Activity: What Is It and Why You Need It Every Day

7. Specificity

You must ensure that your exercise program is geared towards specific goals. For example, if you’d like to become a better runner, you have to implement regular running into your program. Although swimming is great exercise, it won’t improve a two-mile run time as much as a running program will. Likewise, if your goal is to improve muscle tone, cardio alone just won’t do. You have to implement some sort of resistance training into your exercise routine in order to tone your muscles.

Related Article: 5 Reasons Why Resistance Training Is Necessary for Weight Loss

You can remember these seven principles by thinking of them as the seven P.R.O.V.R.B.S. By implementing these P.R.O.V.R.B.S into your exercise program I can guarantee you’ll experience great gains in your overall health and fitness levels.