There are 3 basic training principles that should guide the design of an effective exercise program:
Specificity dictates that the training effects from a program are specific to the exercises performed and the muscles or organ systems involved. In other words, the training adaptation that occurs is specific to the type of training taking place for the tissues, muscles, organs that are being used. Therefore, your program must target the areas in which improvement is desired. For instance, if you want to increase your cardiorespiratory endurance, you need to consistently do that type of exercise. Or, if you want to increase muscular strength in your legs, you must perform resistance training exercises that recruit those muscles. Lifting weights with your upper body will not cause your legs to get stronger.
Even if a muscle- or activity-specific training program is utilized, you will only experience limited results if the overload principle is not employed. At its essence, this principle describes the concept of use increasing functional capacity. Our body gradually adapts as it is exposed to workloads to which it is not accustomed. Therefore, the stress or intensity of the activity or exercise must be continually greater than what the body has done previously. If overload is not achieved, you will not see results.
The load should be increased incrementally to task the body sufficiently in order to illicit the desired training effect but minimize the risk of injury. This is known as progression. It is the systematic increase of the stimulus over time required to ensure overload. As your body adapts to the training to which it is subjected, you must adjust the load or intensity in order to keep getting the desired response – you must “progress” your exercises. If you do not make these adjustments, eventually, overload will not be achieved and your body will remain unchanged. You must continually “up the ante” so to speak.
If you want to be successful in your efforts and see the changes you desire in your body, be sure to put these 3 principles into practice as you design a workout plan. And if you need some help, consider working with a personal trainer who can guide you in this process.
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