Introduction

Progressive strengthening exercises are used in rehabilitation to increase muscle strength, tone, size, and function. Progressive strengthening is also referred to as “progressive resistance,” “exercise progression,” and the “overload principle.” Injury, disease, and neurological disorders, such as stroke or traumatic brain injury, can weaken muscles. Bed rest and inactivity can cause muscle wasting. Progressive strengthening exercises build up muscles by gradually increasing the amount of weight or resistance you use while exercising.

Treatment

Your doctor can refer you to a physical or occupational therapist for progressive strengthening exercises. At your initial evaluation, your rehabilitation therapist will examine your arms and legs. Measurements will be taken to see how far you can move your joints and how strong your muscles are. Your rehabilitation therapist will assess your balance and posture while you are standing and sitting. You should state your concerns and goals. Your rehabilitation therapist will design a progressive strengthening program based on your initial functioning.

Your progressive strengthening program will consist of lifting a specified amount of weight a certain amount of times. When your muscles have strengthened enough that the exercises become easy, the amount of weight or resistance will be increased. The process will continue until you have reached your goal.