Health / Expert Advice

How to Know When to Go from Beginner to Intermediate Workouts

Think you're ready to take your fitness routine up a level? Aaptiv trainer Jenn Giamo weighs in on how to know for sure.

So, you’ve made a commitment to get healthy. You set some goals and you’ve started an exercise regimen.

You have begun your fitness journey and you’re excited to start seeing results from your Aaptiv workouts and anxious to get to the next level. Whether you’re a seasoned athlete or a fitness novice, everyone needs to make a change to see a change.

Below I break down exactly when it’s time to change from beginner to intermediate workouts or from mid-level to advanced and give you tips on how to go about it.

It’s All About the Approach

Some experts will take the time frame approach. They’ll tell you that if you do a routine for a certain number of weeks, it’s time to progress from beginner to intermediate level workouts.

Others may take a strength-based approach, which means once you can lift a certain amount of weight, it’s time to move up. I like to take an individual progress approach.

Progress shouldn’t depend on a set number of weeks or weight plates. Instead, before you switch it up, you should experience a significant and sustained lack of progress with your current routine. So, basically, when you hit a progress plateau, it may be time to move up a level.

If you’re still seeing results at your current level, feel free to stay there. Your body is still being challenged by your routine. Focusing on your individual progress, allows you to be more mindful of your body and how it reacts to exercise. You can use your individual results as a guide for your progress.

One Thing At a Time

If you’ve experienced a stall in progress and feel ready to move on, you’re probably wondering what to do next. I suggest changing one variable of your routine. In order to make progress, your body and muscles need to be continuously challenged with new or different forms of stimuli. So, changing up a variable will add a new challenge to your routine.

Typically, your variables include frequency, intensity, time, or type of exercise. Pick one of these variables and switch it up. I’ll break it down for you:

Frequency: Add another workout day
Intensity: Amp it up! Work at 80% of your max effort
Time: Add ten minutes to your routine
Type: Try the stair climber instead of the elliptical

I often find that changing your workout intensity is the the best and most effective choice. If you up the intensity of your routine and maintain a heart rate that is 80 percent of your maximum, you should see results quickly.

Think about how effective HIIT workouts are even though they’re typically shorter in length—maximum efforts means faster results. Whenever you’re ready to advance your fitness level, make sure you only change one variable at a time. This will make the transition more manageable. I’d also recommend digging into the science of changing your workout routine and double checking that you’re cross training in the proper order.

Get Goal Oriented

When making any fitness routine change, it’s always important to review your goals. Ask yourself what goals you’ve hit, which you’re still on track to hit, and which you may need to reassess. Think of it as a checklist and work your way down each one. Growth and success can only be measured if we constantly aspire to reach new heights and set the bar a little higher than we did yesterday. If you need a little variety, try our Aaptiv app today! You’ll love it.

Expert Advice Health


Welcome to the guidebook to your healthiest life. Aaptiv delivers the highest quality fitness and health information from personal trainers and industry experts. Subscribe now for a weekly dose of inspiration and education.

I would like to receive weekly fitness articles and inspiration from Aaptiv Magazine.

Please click the checkbox to subscribe.