Progressive Strength Training

What is Progressive Strength Training?

Individualized progressive strengthening is a method of strength training utilized by physical therapists to gradually increase a patient’s muscle strength based on their observed muscle weaknesses and their specific injury.

Athlete in rehabilitation

When a person gets injured, they may suffer from muscle weakness, either because of the injury or as a cause of the injury. During your initial evaluation, your therapist will evaluate the strength of the muscles surrounding your injury and take measurements to assess how well your muscles are functioning to support activity. These measurements will be used to establish your muscular strength and will be used as a comparison for further testing to observe how well you progress during your physical therapy treatment.

Why do we utilize Progressive Strength Training?

Progressive strengthening is used by our physical therapists to help build muscle strength by gradually increasing the amount of resistance or weight used during exercise.

The basic physiology of strengthening muscles requires increasing load to fatigue the muscles

which then respond by getting stronger.

We begin each patient’s strengthening program with small amounts of weight. As their strength increases, we progress the exercises and the weights used during those exercises to gradually build muscle strength.

We tailor progressive strengthening programs specific to each patient to help them maximize their strengthening and to address their individual injuries and weaknesses.

How could you benefit from Progressive Strength Training?

  • Improved muscle strength
  • Maintaining flexibility, mobility, and balance, which can help maintain independence in ageing
  • Weight management
  • Greater stamina – as you grow stronger, you won’t get tired as easily
  • Prevention or control of chronic diseases such as diabetes, coronary artery disease, arthritis, back pain, depression and obesity
  • Pain management
  • Improved posture
  • Increased bone density and strength and reduced risk of osteoporosis
  • Improved sense of wellbeing – resistance training may boost self-confidence, improve body image and mood

Current Research:

There is a lot of research that has been published in the past several years that shows the benefit of progressive strengthening on an array of injuries. Our therapists utilize current evidence to help dictate their patient treatments to give our patients the best possible treatment incorporating the latest treatment techniques. Utilizing scientific research is vital to achieving the best possible outcomes for our patients as it allows us to incorporate tried and true methods that have been proven to be beneficial.

Below is a sampling of the current research about progressive strengthening. It has been utilized in a variety of studies with a variety of patient populations, each of which improved because of progressive strengthening exercises during their physical therapy treatment.

These research articles demonstrate the effectiveness of progressive strengthening to increase strength and improve patient outcomes for the following injuries:

ACL reconstruction, recurring low back pain, children with Cerebral Palsy, Coronary Artery Disease, Stroke, and knee pain due to osteoarthritis.

1.Progressive strength training restores quadriceps and hamstring muscle strength within 7 months after ACL reconstruction in amateur male soccer players. Welling W, Benjaminse A, Lemmink K, Dingenen B, Gokeler A. Phys Ther Sport. 2019 Nov;40:10-18. doi: 10.1016/j.ptsp.2019.08.004. Epub 2019 Aug 9. PMID: 31425918
2.Effectiveness of a Group-Based Progressive Strength Training in Primary Care to Improve the Recurrence of Low Back Pain Exacerbations and Function: A Randomised Trial. Calatayud J, Guzmán-González B, Andersen LL, Cruz-Montecinos C, Morell MT, Roldán R, Ezzatvar Y, Casaña J. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2020 Nov 11;17(22):8326. doi: 10.3390/ijerph17228326. PMID: 33187076 Free PMC article. Clinical Trial.
3.The Effects of Functional Progressive Strength and Power Training in Children With Unilateral Cerebral Palsy. Kaya Kara O, Livanelioglu A, Yardımcı BN, Soylu AR. Pediatr Phys Ther. 2019 Jul;31(3):286-295. doi: 10.1097/PEP.0000000000000628. PMID: 31220015 Clinical Trial.
4.The effect of progressive resistance training on aerobic fitness and strength in adults with coronary heart disease: A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials. Hollings M, Mavros Y, Freeston J, Fiatarone Singh M. Eur J Prev Cardiol. 2017 Aug;24(12):1242-1259. doi: 10.1177/2047487317713329. Epub 2017 Jun 5. PMID: 28578612 Review.
5.Progressive resistance training increases strength after stroke but this may not carry over to activity: a systematic review. Dorsch S, Ada L, Alloggia D. J Physiother. 2018 Apr;64(2):84-90. doi: 10.1016/j.jphys.2018.02.012. Epub 2018 Mar 27. PMID: 29602748
6.Effect of High-Intensity Strength Training on Knee Pain and Knee Joint Compressive Forces Among Adults With Knee Osteoarthritis: The START Randomized Clinical Trial. Messier SP, Mihalko SL, Beavers DP, Nicklas BJ, DeVita P, Carr JJ, Hunter DJ, Lyles M, Guermazi A, Bennell KL, Loeser RF. JAMA. 2021 Feb 16;325(7):646-657. doi: 10.1001/jama.2021.0411. PMID: 33591346 Free PMC article. Clinical Trial.