How Do You Determine Your Fitness Level?

Beginner, Intermediate or Advanced: What is The Best Workout Program For You?

Week 1

Whether you’re new to working out or experienced with moving your body, we all have to start somewhere and there is always room to advance! But where does your fitness ability start and how do you know when to progress to more intense workouts?

First you need to determine where your training experience level is before you can begin to put the specifics into your ideal fitness routine. You need to determine if your fitness level would be considered beginner, intermediate, or advanced. Knowing which level you’re at currently will help determine what exercises are appropriate for you and can be done safely without injury. It’s all relevant to what type of routine or exercises you’re doing and at what intensity level you perform them at.

About Fitness Levels

The differences between the three fitness levels come from the modifications to make an exercise easier and how to progress to more intense exercises. First, you need to know what you are capable of doing and what works best for you

Don’t concern yourself with fitness standards suggesting what you “should” be doing or able to do. Everyone has strengths and weaknesses that can be improved at every level. When referring to a beginner, intermediate, and advanced individual, the level of intensity is attributed to experience, knowledge, and time spent achieving specific fitness attainments. Knowing your body and being comfortable performing exercises in a specific workout style is what makes the levels of difficulty attainable or not.

The Differences Between Workout Levels:

  • Beginners: If you are new to working out on a regular basis, begin with exercises that prepare the muscles to move with good form in order to build strength and muscle memory. A beginner’s routine usually consists of a low intensity, modified versions of exercises with little variety, and shorter duration workouts. Building a solid foundation as a beginner routine will insure you to get the best results in the long run.
  • Intermediates: An experienced trainee with a moderate to somewhat advanced series of exercises can begin to add a challenge to the fitness level they have built up to. The experience level of the intermediate exerciser also has knowledge of proper form, modifications, and understands a variety of workout styles to suit their goals. The majority of consistent exercisers are in this category.
  • Advanced: Advanced trainees use advanced exercises that challenge their bodies for increased strength, power, speed, and extra intensity to achieve added results. They have years of consistent experience working their body and know how to manipulate variables to challenge their training needs. The incremental improvements for these individuals may be increasingly difficult to achieve.

Determining Your Fitness

Now that you know the differences between the three fitness levels, what category do you truly fall within? You need to be realistic about your fitness experience to determine your correct level of training.

Fitness programs and workout routines are designed for specific levels of experience for a reason. Workouts can be designed for certain levels of experience and specific exercises. You have to take into account what works best for your body and a baseline to start at. This is where you can build your comfort level and eventually your level of experience will improve. It’s important to be realistic in knowing where your abilities and limits are so that you can reap the benefits of a program that is tailored to accommodate your fitness experience level!

Exercise Examples At Each Level

The Total Gym is a great piece of equipment to accommodate all levels of fitness by easily changing the body position, the incline level, or by a balance/ core challenge. Below are two examples of how to modify an exercise to accommodate for a beginner, an intermediate or an advanced fitness level.

Example 1: Bicep Curls
1. Beginner: Seated Bicep curls

  • Low incline
  • Seated, straddle position

2. Intermediate: Kneeling Bicep Curls + static equilibrium

  • Medium incline
  • Challenges core, balance, and intensifies the muscle by consistent contraction

3. Advanced: High Kneeling Bicep Curls + static equilibrium

  • High incline
  • Challenges core, balance, and static mobility/ stability utilizing speed under constant muscular contraction

Example 2: Push-Ups

1. Beginner: Modified Push ups

  • High incline
  • Develops strength, proper form, sense of accomplishment

2. Intermediate: Open glide board push-ups

  • Medium incline
  • Challenges core, balance, static mobility/ stability

3. Advanced: Moving push-ups

  • Low incline
  • Challenges core, balance, dynamic mobility/ stability, increased intensity

An exercise can be ‘tweaked’ or modified in a way to accommodate your specific fitness level as long as you have the experience, knowledge, and proper form to progress it to the appropriate level.

Finding the ideal fitness program that is right for you can be made simple as long as you know what category you fit into. Each level of difficulty can offer a challenge and everyone will have different strengths as well as areas to improve. So stay positive, determined, motivated, and patient. Remain focused on your body to achieve success. Within time, you will feel confident, gain experience, and will know when it is time to progress from the results you accomplish!

Good Luck Always,


Maria Sollon

Maria Sollon Scally MS, CSCS holds a Master’s Degree in Performance Enhancement/Injury Prevention and Kinesiology. She has obtained numerous certifications in various areas of fitness and is a national conference presenter. Maria specializes in Pilates, Performance Coaching, and Corrective Exercise Techniques and Kettlebells. She is the creator of the Plyo Pilates Method and has developed a series of amazing workout DVDs. She is a Master Trainer for Total Gym, Resist-a-Ball, Body Blade, Peak Pilates, Kettle Bell Concepts and is a freelance writer for Fitness accredited magazines, newsletters, and fitness blog sites. Maria demonstrates her knowledge each day and uses her dynamic creativity throughout her specialized line of work. (purchasable workout videos) (workout clips)

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