Back To The Basics
In my role as a fitness instructor/trainer, one of the first questions I am asked is “How do I get fitter? My body is not changing and I work out all the time.”
There are several things that lead to optimal training: how many times you exercise per week, how intense you exercise and what types of exercise you perform (and of course, your diet – but we’ll cover that in another blog entry).
The Principle of Overload says that to reach a desired training improvement, you have to perform at a level higher than what you are currently doing. Often, we get so comfortable in our fitness routine, we are no longer challenging ourselves or getting out of our comfort zone (note our recent blog entry: Mind Over Matter).
By performing at a higher level (ie. heavier weights, different type of workout, anaerobic workout), your body responds to this new stress by adapting to the increase in capacity. Fitness programs that lack overload or variation will help you maintain your current level, but not improve it.
The Principle of Progression states that for continued improvement in your fitness level, you have to continually challenge yourself over time. This means gradual increases in the frequency, intensity and type of exercise you perform without increasing your risk of injury. The length of improvement will vary depending on age, current fitness level and physical limitations.
Principle of Specificity is the key to progression! It says that your body will adapt to the demands put on it. For example, you want to run your first marathon, but you’ve never run more than 3 miles. The more you train – the longer you can run, the more miles you cover, the more your body adapts to what you are asking of it (over a gradual period of time). The changes you are making are specific to that activity. So, focus on one new activity at a time to maximize your results.
So let’s recap. To see different results, you have to challenge yourself. Pick a new workout routine…or try a different fitness program. Stay consistent in your gradual increases and push yourself. Don’t just go through the movements – get out of your comfort zone. You will start to see results.
Should You Rest?
Short answer – YES! Your body needs time to recover and your musculoskeletal system needs to rebuild from vigorous exercise (note our blog entry “Give It A Rest“). You can cause more damage than good if you do not let your body rest. Overtraining can also occur when you try to increase your intensity too quickly. In both scenarios, you are more prone to injury and will not optimize the increase in your fitness level.
I always try to incorporate at least 2 days of rest into my week (no high-intensity workouts – more leisure activities).
What If I Stop Exercising?
So, now that you know how to progress your fitness level, on the other end of the spectrum, what happens if you stop for a designated length of time? If your training is discontinued or decreased, de-training occurs. Cardio-respiratory fitness levels decrease after only 2-3 weeks without training. Muscular fitness (strength/endurance) will decrease in 2-3 months without training. Note to self: don’t stop by choice. Objects in rest tend to stay in rest. Objects in motion, stay in motion.
Have specific questions for your fitness training? Email us. We are here to help: email@example.com
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