1. The Principle Of Individual DifferencesThe principle of individual differences simple means that, because we all are unique individuals, we will all have a slightly different response to an exercise program. This is another way of saying that "one size does not fit all" when it comes to exercise. Well-designed exercise programs should be based on our individual differences and responses to exercise.
Some of these differences have to do with body size and shape, genetics, past experience, chronic conditions, injuries and even gender. For example, women generally need more recovery time than men, and older athletes generally need more recovery time than younger athletes.
With this in mind, you may or may not want to follow an "off the shelf" exercise program, DVD or class and may find it helpful to work with a coach or personal trainer to develop a customized exercise program. Some things to consider when creating your own exercise program include the next batch of exercise science principles.
In order for a muscle (including the heart) to increase strength, it must be gradually stressed by working against a load greater than it is used to. To increase endurance, muscles must work for a longer period of time than they are used to or at a higher intensity.
The Principle of Progression also stresses the need for proper rest and recovery. Continual stress on the body and constant overload will result in exhaustion and injury. You should not train hard all the time, as you'll risk overtraining and a decrease in fitness.
Additionally, it makes an athlete very efficient and allows him to expend less energy doing the same movements. This reinforces the need to vary a workout routine if you want to see continued improvement.
The Principle of Use/Disuse implies that when it comes to fitness, you "use it or lose it." This simply means that your muscles hypertrophy with use and atrophy with disuse. This also explains why we decondition or lose fitness when we stop exercise.
The Specificity Principle simply states that exercising a certain body part or component of the body primarily develops that part. The Principle of Specificity implies that, to become better at a particular exercise or skill, you must perform that exercise or skill. A runner should train by running, a swimmer by swimming and a cyclist by cycling. While it's helpful to have a good base of fitness and to do general conditioning routines, if you want to be better at your sport, you need to train specifically for that sport.
Many coaches and trainers will add additional guidelines and principles to this list. However, these six basics are the cornerstones of all other effective training methods. These cover all major aspects of a solid foundation of athletic training.
Designing a program that adheres to all of these guidelines can be challenging, so it's not a surprise that many athletes turn to a coach or trainer for help with the details so they can focus on the workouts. One common training method is Periodization Training that it build upon specific training phases throughout the year.
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Wilmore, J.H. and Costill, D.L. Physiology of Sport and Exercise: 3rd Edition. 2005. Human Kinetics Publishing.