Effective Training Principles
Physical training programs vary depending upon the end results that an individual is seeking. Some wish to add muscle mass, while others simply desire to lose weight or enhance their health and overall fitness. All training exercises focus upon mechanistic goals and all training programs seek to develop specific skills or muscles. However, in terms of competitive sports, training routines focus upon pushing an athlete towards a specific point in time when their performance will peak, optimally during the competition. For the average individual, however, physical training programs focus upon raising the overall physical fitness of the individual.
Outside of competitive sports, military physical training endeavors to provide an individual with the physical ability to perform and survive in combat circumstances that the average individual would never face. These skills, which are necessary in a time of war, have little merit in the real world, but the psychological and physiological methods used often provide these men and women decidedly superior skills.
There are a variety of methods used to obtain results, and not all are created equal. For example, a common expression employed over the years has been “no pain, no gain”, since the scientific explanation is that strength requires an adaption response in the body, and this is obtained only when the body is subjected to a variety of stress factors which continually increase in magnitude. With respect to exercise, any physical training is a type of stress, with the overall goal of disrupting the body’s preference for homeostasis or plateau.
Each method has its own unique benefits. For example, strength training is the concept of strengthening muscles and gaining enhanced tone without gaining mass, whereas bodybuilding specifically seeks to add musculature by lifting the heaviest weight possible. Every method has its own unique benefits, and their efficacy is dependent upon the individual’s unique goals.
Progressive Overload Training
Progressive overload training is one of the primary principles behind building mass, with three specific goals in mind: increasing intensity, increasing volume, and increasing density. The concept behind this is that each time the body is progressively challenged, musculature grows. The same principle applies to cognitive exercises. As with all activities, greater work equals greater benefits. Baseball players begin by throwing the ball short distances, and not very accurately, but over time they develop the necessary skills to throw the ball accurately and for further distances. The same rules apply for progressive overload training. It is important to remember that one needs to build up progressively, increment by increment.
The Principle of Reversibility
Research has proven the existence of muscle memory, however, muscle memory alone cannot compensate for consistent training, and any discontinuation of training will have detrimental side effects.
With the average individual the sudden cessation of a fitness program will result in weight gain and muscle loss, but the side effects are much worse if the individual is an elite competitor. Many of the Soviet programs utilized a gradual reduction program spread out over several years to help their athletes retire from competition to reduce not only the physical stress, but emotional and psychological stress.
The Bottom Line
Almost all doctors agree that consistency is the most important aspect of any physical fitness regimen. It does not matter if one is a professional athlete, a competitive sporting participant, or just someone who desires the health benefits of a regular fitness routine. Once a routine is established, it is important to maintain it to reap the long-term benefits. Speak with a licensed physical trainer to determine which routines are best suited to your goals.
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