Jennifer Ellison Brown: Principles of training and conditioning
Principles of training
Training is a process based on principles which try to improve physical fitness and motor skills. It involves a balance between work, rest and recovery. Without proper rest, over training and burnout can occur. This, in time, causes performance and motivation to decrease.
We all have some natural ability in sport. However, ability alone is not enough. Therefore, for steady progress and to avoid injury, the basic principles should be followed in planning an effective training programme. These five principles are designed to guide the achievement of fitness in a safe way.
- Specificity - train for our own particular sport.
- Progression - increase training gradually.
- Overload - work harder than normal.
- Reversibility - we lose fitness if we stop training.
- Variation - make training interesting.
Principle of specificity
This is choosing the right training for the sport or precise exercise for specific muscle groups. The type of training or exercise must be right for the type of improvement we need. Training should focus on the physiological and the psychological factors special to the activity for which the person is being trained.
For example, sprinters must include a lot of speed work in their training to develop their fast-twitch muscle fibres.
Principle of progression
The body needs time to recover and adapt to training. Therefore, the stress placed on the body must be gradual or progressive. If the stress is built up too quickly, the risk of injury is great; also, if the challenge is too difficult, it could lead to demotivation. The body training threshold informs us when training is at the optimal level. Progressive loading, with the right amount of rest period for recovery, should result in performance improvement.
Principle of overload
The body will adapt to extra stress, therefore allowing the systems to work harder than normal will increase fitness. This is done by basing the training on the FITT principle, which is increasing Frequency, Intensity and Time for the Type of activity or exercise.
For example, running more times per week, completing the run in a shorter time or increasing the distance, will aid in improving aerobic fitness. Each method will overload the aerobic system, which will gradually adapt to cope with the overload, hereby improving fitness.
Principle of reversibility
Fitness cannot be stored for future use. It will disappear if training stops. It takes only three to four weeks for the body to get out of condition. For example, strength training makes the muscles thicken. This is called hypertrophy. If the training stops, the muscle shrinks, leading to atrophy. Therefore, to maintain any improvements, exercise or training has to be repeated
Principle of variation
Training must be varied to avoid tedium (boredom). This is done by using a variety of different training methods to keep the enthusiasm and motivation.
For example, follow a long workout with a short one, a high intensive session with a relaxed one, or a high-speed session with a slow one. Varying training methods also helps to avoid injuries.