The mixed smell of iron, sweat, and rust wasn’t really lovely but I guess my olfactory nerves eventually got accustomed to it. I first took up Weight Training class as my second P.E. of choice, thinking that improving my anaerobic capacity would be of more benefit for me since I have asthma. I thought that getting stronger first would be better for me, before I undertake physical activities that require more aerobic component (The next P.E. I was thinking of taking was Swimming. If you’ve read Part 1, you’ll know why). However – having no background in sports training – it was in that class that I was first able to understand, apply, and experience the Principles of Training.
Individuality. I knew how un-fit I was and I wanted to improve and get stronger. This principle may be one of the most gracious – it implies that each person or athlete has their own individual differences, and the training program must consider those differences. What worked for one person might not work for another. You can’t simply copy what the other person does in the gym and expect the same results in the same time. For a long time -and even until now – coaches have been implementing a ‘one size fits all’ approach to training, sometimes even copying the training program of a winner’s team. This might result to undue load and stress to the athlete.
Here are some of the Principles of Training that would help you train better as well:
Physiological, social, and psychological differences must be considered before doing a training program. I learned about the different somatotypes or body types – the endomorph, mesomorph, and ectomorph. I was somewhere in between an endomorph and a mesomorph, so I should not expect to look skinny like an ectomorph, and I ought to capitalize on my own somatotype. I also realized that I work out better when I am on my own, or at least have my personal space in the gym. Some people won’t work out without a ‘workout buddy’ or a ‘spotter’ – for me, I am able to focus more when there’s no one looking.
An individualized training program will help the person or the athlete achieve improvements in strength and performance more efficiently. If you are training with a group of people, modifications can be incorporated for your individual needs. Last but not the least, be realistic and set goals according to your individuality.
Specificity. This is also known as the SAID principle – Specific Adaptations to Imposed Demands. This simply means that our bodies adapt to the specific mode of training and stress that we put into it. If you swim, you’ll get faster and stronger at swimming but you won’t be improving at another skill, say, throwing. This means that you have to work the same muscle groups that work for the movement or skill that you want to improve. Also, you have to be specific to the type of training that you will be doing, if it will be aerobic or anaerobic in nature.
For me, I didn’t improve much of my aerobic capacity when I started because I just focused on lifting weights and training for Powerlifting. If you’re just doing weights at the gym, you won’t develop your legs or any other part of your body if you just do bicep curls.
Progressive Overload. This may be my ‘favourite’ principle among the list. It suggests that to see improvements in training, a person must exceed the level of stress applied to the body that he/she is accustomed to. You must do more than what you are used to doing so that you will see the results you want to see. Challenge yourself every workout. Give your maximum effort, and may be even a little more. But as much as overloading our system is important, we should remember to do it progressively. The body adapts to the gradual increase of stress placed on the body during training. Additional load can be applied either to Volume – the amount of repetitions that you do the exercise; or the Intensity – the amount of effort to maximal that you apply to do the exercise.
Detraining (Reversibility). Our body is designed very well to adapt that it even adapts even if we do nothing! This principle is sometimes referred to as the “use it or lose it” principle. Studies show that athletes who stop their sports and training eventually loses the fitness and skill components over time. You lose fitness when you stop exercising and how quickly you lose fitness depends on factor such as your fitness level when you stopped, how long you’ve been exercising, and how long you stopped. For conditioned athletes, studies show that they become detrained after three months of not exercising. However, for sedentary and beginning athletes, studies shows that stopping exercise only after two months brought them back to their original fitness level!
All of us has reasons to stop exercising or training for a while. This principle reminds us to take it easy whenever we go back to training. During college and being part of the Powerlifting team, there were many times that I had to stop training for a few weeks and even a couple of months because I needed to study for an exam or finish a paper. This principle works with progressive overload because I had to go back to lighter loads and progress again before training for another competition. The good news according to research is that athletes and more trained individuals are able to retrain faster even after a long break.
Recovery. Last but definitely not the least is the Principle of Rest and Recovery. This principle of rest applies to both the short rest needed in between exercise sets and the longer time intervals of several hours up to 2 days after an intense workout. Our bodies need time to recover from the loads and stresses of training and even competition for it to adapt. The body repairs and strengthens itself during this time out period – muscles add up (or enlarge) fibers, additional neurons get recruited, and the capacity of your heart and lungs improve. Apart from the physiological, this principle also allows for psychological adaptations.
Exercise or any physical work damages and breaks down the tissues in our bodies, and intense activity depletes energy stores. Overtraining and not giving the body enough time to repair these tissues and replenish lost energy would then be detrimental to training and might even result to injury. There are times that we can get too hyped up to work out, join races weekly, and cause our body to be overtrained. Remember that Recovery is as important as training – it is during the Recovery period that your body gets stronger and adapts to the stress of training.
Applying these Principles of Training definitely helped me improve my strength and performance in my sport. I was able to know if I’m doing too little or too much, and which exercises and type of training would be the best for my sport. Considering these things is important in making an effective training program and achieving fitness and athletic goals.