In the study of exercise science, there are several universally accepted scientific exercise training principles that should be followed in order to get the most from exercise programs and improve both physical fitness and sports performance.
The principle of individual differences means we all are unique individuals, we all have a slightly different response to an exercise program. This is another way of saying that “one size does not fit all” when it comes to exercise. Well-designed exercise programs should be based on our individual differences and responses to exercise.
The principle of overload states a greater than normal stress or load on the body is required for training adaptation to take place. This means in order to improve fitness, strength or endurance, we need to increase the workload accordingly. In order for a muscle (including the heart) to increase strength, it must be gradually stressed by working against a load greater than it is accustomed to. To increase endurance, muscles must work for a longer period of time than they are accustomed to or at a higher intensity level.
The principle of progression implies an optimal level of overload should be achieved, and an optimal time frame for this overload to occur. A gradual and systematic increase of the workload over a period of time will result in improvements in fitness without risk of injury. If overload occurs too slowly, improvement is unlikely, but overload that is increased too rapidly may result in injury or muscle damage.
Continual stress on the body and constant overload will result in exhaustion and injury. You should not train hard all the time, as you’ll risk overtraining and a decrease in fitness.
if you want to get in better shape, improve your sports performance, get better at a particular fitness discipline, or avoid stalling and back-slides, these fundamental rules are the hidden force behind your ability to change your fitness level.
- Principle of individual differences Last week’s issue
- Principle of overload Last week’s issue
- Principle of progression Last week’s issue
Principle of adaptation refers to the body’s ability to adjust to increased or decreased physical demands. Repeatedly practicing a skill or activity makes it second-nature and easier to perform. Adaptation explains why beginning exercisers are often sore after starting a new routine, but after doing the same exercise for weeks and months they have little, if any, muscle soreness.
Principle of Use/Disuse implies that when it comes to fitness, you do actually “use it or lose it.” This simply means that your muscles hypertrophy with use and atrophy with disuse. This also explains why with decondition when we stop exercise.
Principle of specificity implies that to become better at a particular exercise or skill, you must perform that exercise or skill. While it’s helpful to have a good base of fitness and to do general conditioning routines, if you want to be better at your sport, you need to train specifically for that sport.
These six basics are the cornerstones of all other effective training methods. These cover all major aspects of a solid foundation of athletic training.