Whether you’re an Olympic athlete or a “weekend warrior”, there are basic principles of exercise that apply to everyone at all levels of physical training. Adherence to these principles is important for developing an effective fitness program.
Basic Principles of Exercise
- Regularity – To achieve good results from your training, you must exercise often. You should exercise each of the first four components of fitness at least three times a week. Infrequent exercise can do more harm than good. Regularity is also important in resting, sleeping, and following a sensible diet.
- Progression – The intensity and duration of exercise must gradually increase to improve the level of fitness. I usually recommend to my patients to increase repetitions or duration of their exercises before they increase the intensity in order to prevent injury.
- Balance – To be effective, a fitness program should include activities that address all the components of fitness. Overemphasizing one of the components over the others will eventually hurt the other components.
- Variety – Providing a variety of activities reduces boredom and increases motivation and progress.
- Specificity – Training must be geared toward specific goals. For example, people become better basketball players if their training emphasizes playing basketball. Although swimming is great exercise, it doesn’t improve your free-throw as much as practicing basketball does.
- Recovery – A hard day of training for a given component of fitness should be followed by an easier training day or rest day for that component and/or muscle group to help permit recovery. Another way to allow recovery is to alternate the muscle groups exercised every other day, especially when training for strength and muscle endurance.
- Overload – The work load of each exercise session must exceed the normal demands placed on the body in order to bring about a training effect.
I hope these principles help you develop the best fitness program for you. The most important thing is find something that you enjoy doing and it will never become a “chore” to workout.