Exercises: Progressive Overload

During your experience at Impact Physiotherapy, you are likely to receive an exercise programme in some form. You will either receive formal exercises specific to regions of your body, or advice and education around managing training load overall like running distances or frequency.

Sometimes from a patient perspective, it can feel daunting to try to manage this despite our efforts to educate and build a plan with you. So, I am writing this blog today with some basics to take home to help manage your exercises.

Now, what do we know about muscle? They adapt to accommodate the stressors or demands put upon them. So, the more you practice the exercises the more the muscles adapt and get stronger. We may start an exercise using 3 sets of 5 reps and over a few weeks aim to progress to 3 sets of 10reps. This is a simple form of progressive overload, by progressing how many reps you do.

Progressive Over-load simply means making something progressively harder to accommodate the increased ability of your muscles or joints. This can apply in all aspects of your rehab and can be a challenging process. When an exercise is prescribed to you, you will likely come across some of the following terms:

Repetition (or Reps): This is how many times you perform an exercise, for example with a straight leg raise, you would lift your leg up off the bed a set number of times. You may be prescribed 5reps, meaning you would perform the exercise five times.

Sets: This is the accumulation of reps. So 5 reps would make one set. Which you may be asked to repeat two or three times. So, three sets of five reps would mean you would perform the exercise five times, have a rest and repeat this process twice more.

Frequency: This Is how often you do the exercise above. So, it may say once a day, twice a day, or maybe three times a week. This would mean doing three sets of five reps three times a week. And the other days you can rest.

Duration: If you are doing static holds or maybe you are planning on returning to running. This would indicate how long you would hold an exercise or long you would run for.

Rest: Rest typically means how long to rest between each set that you do.

Sometimes we as physios want specifics and set all the parameters above, sometimes it is not as important. It really depends on your goals, so you may be prescribed all of the above or only sets and reps.

Example 1) 3x5reps daily

Example 2) 3sets x 5reps, 3sec hold. Every other day, 2minutes rest.

How to Progressively over-load

Reps: Try to do more reps in each set. So, 3 sets of 5reps over the course of a couple of weeks may be built up to 3 sets of 10reps 

Sets:  You may start with 1 set of 5reps and build up to 3 sets of 5 reps

Frequency: You may start with doing the exercises every other day and progress to daily

Duration: You may be able to hold an exercise for 10 seconds and build up to 30 seconds, or run for 5 mins and build to 20mins

Rest: You may start with 2 minutes of rest and reduce to 1 minute to make it harder with less recovery time.

Resistance: You may also consider instead of adding reps and sets, making the exercise harder with an external load, for example, a dumbbell.

Tempo: changing the time of the concentric or eccentric portion of the exercise. For example, 2 seconds up and 2 seconds down, to 2 seconds up 5 seconds down.

Intensity: Considering a percentage of effort or rate of perceived exertion. You may work at 70% max effort or RPE 7/10. This could be subjective or objective by how you feel doing it, or by lifting 70% of the weight of your maximal effort ability.

Your Physiotherapist will likely discuss how they want you to progress, for example, increase the weight used; increase reps done, or advice may include, starting with 3 sets of 8reps. Build to 3 sets of 12reps then bring it back down to 3 sets of 8 reps but add weight next.

These are just the basics that we hope will help you in the management and understanding of how to progress should and when you need to. Of course, when in doubt speak with your physiotherapist.

Written by: Jack Clayton 


First Contact Physiotherapist

Our team is working within our local NHS Primary Care Network to deliver First Contact Physiotherapy services to the local community.

The development of First Contact Physiotherapy (FCP) services across the UK allows people with musculoskeletal (MSK) conditions to access MSK physiotherapy expertise at the start of the pathway, ensuring timely access to diagnosis, early management and onward referral if necessary. 

If you are experiencing muscular or joint aches and pains then instead of seeing your GP you can book in to see your FCP at your local surgery (or hub)

Our FCP’s are skilled specialists and will check you can be referred on for physio treatment or whether you need further investigations or review of medication for example. 

Our team is based within the Erewash PCN at Sawley Medical Centre.

Keep moving…

Our team has been involved in the national vaccination effort – 9 of us have joined the local team and are working away alongside our usual physio clinics. Its a huge privilege to be part of the multi-disciplinary team based at the Long Eaton health Centre and Littlewick surgeries and add a new skill to our repetoire. 

Meeting more than 100 people each day is a pleasure, and the depth of gratitude is humbling. Many of the first to be vaccinated were venturing out for the first time in a year. It’s really sad to see the change in the population since the pandemic started with general activity levels reducing and health deteriorating. The past year has been a rollercoaster for most of us, and it’s clear that the knock on effect of the pandemic will be an effect on our activity levels and mental health.

The activity guidelines still apply, for adults aged 19-65 to do at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise every week (moderate exercises classed as increased breathing rate but able to talk) or at least 75 minutes of vigorous exercise per week (vigorous classed as breathing fast and difficulty talking) or a combination of both.

There’s so much on offer now via video-link / YouTube / SoMe and of course there’s the great outdoors, and the weather seems to be picking up too! The main thing with any exercise or activity is that you enjoy it, as you’re much more likely to stick with it.  And of course, if you have let your fitness slip or not been active for a while then build up what you do gradually. The body wants to move and thrives on activity, but if it not been active to avoid unnecessary aches and pains then think about gradually increasing what you do.


Exercise – NHS activity levels guidelines

Versus Arthritis Let’s move

Please get in contact if we can help at all: enquiries@impactphysio.co.uk / 0115 9721319

Let us know how you're getting on!

Goodbye 2020!

What a year! A time to reflect as we head into 2021, the huge changes that we have made to continue to offer the standards of care we are proud of. Everyone in the team has stepped up to the challenge and pulled together. Its been tough, as a social bunch we have got used to supporting each other from a distance and of course working with you either via zoom or through PPE!

Our strict processes though have meant that we have managed to stay open and offer continued care throughout the pandemic. We are hugely grateful for the support we have received and look forwards now to adapting as needed in order to continue next year.

Our classes will continue to operate through zoom for the foreseeable future and our 4 clinics will respond to local requirements, currently the plan is to continue face to face appointments at our Long Eaton and Pride Park clinics on Jan 4th. Please don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any questions.

Wishing you all a healthy and active 2021!

Please get in contact if we can help at all: enquiries@impactphysio.co.uk / 0115 9721319

Let us know how you're getting on!

COVID-19 Action Plan

To all our clients at Impact Physio

We are monitoring the situation closely and are following the guidance of our governing bodies, the local health authorities and World Health Organization (WHO), to ensure we are doing our part to keep you and our wider communities safe. 

If you have any concerns about attending your appointment, then please don’t hesitate to contact us. If you need to reduce your risk due to personal or wider responsibilities to others, are within a vulnerable category yourself or need to self-isolate due to a persistent new cough or have a fever then please don’t physically attend your appointment.

We are able to offer either telephone consultations or video links to enable your management to continue. In most cases we can continue to offer assessment, advice and our classes in a virtual environment therefore avoiding contact risk.  Please don’t hesitate to contact us to discuss this further or make contact prior to your scheduled time to organise this.

If you are well and able to keep your appointment then we can assure you that we continue to maintain our high standards of infection control. We have also increased vigilance with the most-touched surfaces like door handles, credit card readers, and restrooms. We also ensure our team are following guidelines regarding their own health. 

We wish you all the best at this time and thank-you for your continued support. 

2020 changes

A new decade, new challenges… 

This year we are have rebooked some of our favourite challenges – continuing our quest to surf better! We have changed our 3 peak challenge to the “10 Peaks in the Lakes” and added a cool down “Great North Swim” the following day! Of course this will all be accompanied by lashings of cake in true Impact style raising money for some great causes.

This year Phil – who has been a stalwart at the clinic for over 10 years has been offered a full-time role at Nottinghamshire CCC, we wish him all the best and can’t wait until the close season already for him to re-join us!

We welcome Ben Trevor-Jones who has come over from Sydney University Sports Injury Clinic to join Derbyshire CCC for a PT role with the second team, he will be based at all 4 of our clinics!

Jenny Horrigan has recently joined us to offer Pelvic health services, this service is in massive demand and is an intervention that following assessment can make a huge impact on peoples lives. Jenny is based at Long Eaton & Pride Park.

Tom Lamb joins us for 6 months while he is completing his Sports Medicine Masters at The University of Nottingham, Tom has previously worked at Crewe Alexandra.

Lorraine Geutjens has completed her “return to work” HCPC registration after family time and now works PT with us at the Long Eaton base. Lorraine has experience working within the MOD and Nottingham City Hospital in MSK.

And lastly but not least Ali Crewesmith who also works at the Physio Dept. at London Road Community Hospital will be based at our Kedleston Road / University of Derby clinic on a Monday evening.


Robin Hood Half

Impact Physiotherapy have been event partners with the Robin Hood event since 2007.

We were delighted to support the event again this year, our 12th year! The physio & massage support has grown to include 3 tents and over 50 volunteers. The team at Impact continue to prioritise this as a fund raising event for the official charities and were delighted this year to invite our colleagues at The University of Nottingham Sports Injury Clinic to join us.

The new team enabled us to offer an even bigger service to the runners, alongside of course the student Physiotherapists and Sports Rehabilitation students from University of Nottingham and Sheffield Hallam University and the Sports Therapy students from The University of Derby who were keen to practice their skills under the supervision of the qualified physios.

The Physiotherapy team were available to help on race day with any pre-race injury advice, or race preparations to a relaxing post-race recovery massage and any injury assessments that were required.



Cyclone 24

We’re looking forward to supporting this event again in 2 weeks time. It was amazing to see last year the stamina & commitment & teamwork during this 24 hour endurance event. Teams of up to 6 riders aim to complete as many laps as they can during 24 hours. Phenomenal! We supported the riders with a small team of therapists and student volunteers from The University of Derby and The University of Nottingham, providing a well earned massage and chance to stretch out for 15 minutes on a comfy couch! Good luck to the riders – see you in a fortnight.

Cyclone 24

blog – final weeks of preparation

So this event might be out of your comfort zone but if you’ve ever been tempted to get on a bike and give it a go, I would highly recommend getting yourself signed up for a taster at the arena. We are so fortunate to have such a facility on our doorstep, especially as the Derby Arena is base to our Pride Park clinic. We enjoyed our track session as a team and plan to repeat it again this year.

Arena Cycling

Impact Physio 2018











Impact Challenge: Supporting the Teenage Cancer Trust

Delighted to be part of the team supporting Sam with his quest to raise funds for the Teenage Cancer Trust – a charity close to his heart. A small group of us signed up to the x-runner 10k obstacle course challenge, commonly called the mud-runner! We slipped and slid around the course, getting extremely wet and muddy, so much fun we have already signed up again for next years event!

The team back at base added to the funds with a cake sale based at our Long Eaton hub, raising over £300 to add to Sam’s impressive £2000 total.

virginmoneygiving – the TCT run







National Three Peaks Challenge

So we did it!   


July 18/19th a team of us set off up to Ben Nevis for the start of the national 3 peaks challenge. Driven by the awesome Sara – we arrived in time for a meal before heading off up the mountain – we were fortunate enough to have clear skies – great views – and if anything slightly too hot at 25 degrees! We enjoyed a panorama at the summit and beautiful skies on the descent, arriving back at the van with a few minutes of daylight spare – total climbing time of 5 hours 40!


The walking team slept to Scafell while Sally kept Sara company chatting all the way – a few minor detours for road closures we arrived at Brackenclose carpark at 04:20 – 10 minutes ahead of schedule. Good news as Jo was waiting to join us – fresh legs and enthusiasm to boost the team for a sunrise ascent!

Once again created with clear skies, although a bit windier – we took the scramble route at hollow stones to mix up the walk. Once again fab views from the summit with clouds in the distance – threatening but kept away.

Unfortunately Chris had to make a slow descent struggling with a sore achilles but, the rest of the team made the most of dipping their feet in the stream as by then we had paired up with another group of firefighters doing the same challenge and timings so chris was happy descending with a fella with a sore knee!



We headed off to Snowdon 90 minutes behind the schedule so decided to enjoy the challenge rather than race for a 24 hour finish – but once again Sara made great time so while the team slept (again!) we got to Pen-y-pass at 14:20 to meet Louise – another welcome sight – clean, fresh and raring to go – although the rain was lashing and thunder rolling – luckily out of the valley by that time!

We made a 2 hour ascent which meant we got to the top of Snowdon within the 24 hours, and made a steady descent as by that time the route down was pretty much a waterfall! Wet and soggy hugs and high fives back at the carpark – the end of an awesome event.




We’re delighted to have raised nearly £800 for a fantastic cause. Thank-you for all your support.

Impact Physio Nat 3 peaks challenge

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