Principles of Physical Training
People take up physical training for a wide variety of reasons. They may: wish to improve their performance in a specific sport, suffer from physical health problems or wish to improve their lifestyle.
While the reasons for starting physical training can vary, the ultimate goal of any training program is the same: to improve performance. However, many people fall into the trap of wasting their time while performing physical activity. This occurs because they lack an understanding of the correct way to perform exercise.
The four principles that apply to all physical training programs are discussed throughout this unit.
By following these principles, your chances of obtaining results from any physical activity will be greatly improved.
According to this principle, exercise must be done at a higher level than usual to bring about results.
Once the body has adapted to the higher level of exercise it will function more effectively and efficiently. The overload can be obtained by manipulating various combinations of exercise frequency, intensity, duration and type of exercise.
Increasing intensity, duration and frequency can be helpful for running, cycling or swimming, and increasing resistance and repetitions can improve strength training.
Specificity of Training
This principle refers to the training-induced adaptations in metabolic and physiologic systems which are specific to the type of exercise.
If you wish to improve your performance in a specific discipline, it is important to pay close attention to that discipline in your training. While this may seem obvious, you would be surprised about the volume of runners who focus on swimming to improve their running performance, only to find that it has not paid the dividends they hoped.
Running will increase physical fitness but it will not increase swimming performance and vice versa. Thus, it is important to train muscles involved in a specific type of exercise to realize greater performance benefits.
If you walked into a doctor’s office due to poor health, perhaps a bug or a virus, you would expect to be treated as an individual wouldn’t you? You would be quite displeased if the doctor diagnosed you because he had seen a similar patient yesterday, you would probably ask for your money back!
The same principle should be held in account when performing physical activity - everyone is different.
Responses to a particular training program can vary from one individual to another.
According to this principle, exercise programs should be individualized to meet the training requirements and capacity of each person.
FITT - Frequency, Intensity, Time & Type
All four aspects of the FITT principle must be included to achieve the most benefit from your training program.
To put it simply, you must exercise regularly, at a relatively high intensity, for a prolonged period of time, and vary the type of exercises that you perform.
To adhere to the FITT principle, try to follow the guidelines outlined below:
Perform some sort of physical activity four times a week.
Use a mix of cardiovascular and strength building exercises in your routine.
Keep your heart rate high when performing cardiovascular exercises.
Exercise for no less than an hour for each session.
Determining Your Training Heart Rate
When reading the training methods presented in this course, you will come across references to exercise intensity. Intensity is the rate at which exercise is performed.
If you work out in a gym you may have used an exercise machine that monitors exercise intensity. A quick and easy method for measuring the intensity of your workout is by measuring your heart rate and checking to see if you are within your target training zone.
Measure your heart rate by taking your pulse at the carotid artery (neck) or the radial artery (wrist) for 15 seconds; multiply this value by four to get your heart rate in beats per minute.
Compare this heart rate value to your target training intensity. If your heart rate is too low, increase the intensity of your workout. If it is too high, reduce the intensity slightly.
Determining Your Training Heart Rate (Continued)
To maintain aerobic conditioning, exercise should be performed at a heart rate between 70% and 90% of your maximal heart rate (Max HR).
Your target training heart rate can be calculated as follows:
Max HR in beats per minute = 220 minus your age
Depending on your particular “physiology” and physical conditioning, your Max HR could be higher than what you derive from this equation.
However, this is the way it is routinely estimated.
An Example for Determining Your Target Training Heart Rate
Outlined below is an example of the formulae that is used to determine a 22 year old’s max, lower target and upper target heart rate. After studying the example, try and calculate your own max, lower target and upper target heart rate.
Determining Your Target Heart Rate
A runner is 22 years old Max HR = 220 - 22 = 198 bpm
Lower Target HR = 0.7 X 198 = 139 bpm
Upper Target HR = 0.9 X 198 = 178 bpm
It is important to note that maximal heart rates tend to be lower during swimming and arm exercises. For these activities you should subtract 13 from your maximal heart rate to before obtaining your training heart rate.
Energy Systems Used by Exercising Muscle
Before describing the methods used for physical training, it is important to understand the three systems that provide energy to the exercising muscle. All three systems are important.
Depending on the activity, there may be a greater reliance on one system over the others. Weightlifting and running (shown below) use very different energy systems.
ATP-CP System for Speed Work
Adenosine triphosphate (ATP) is the immediate source of energy within all cells of our body for activities such as sprinting.
There are small stores of ATP within skeletal muscle, and these energy stores provide immediate energy to sustain physical activities for a short time. Once the ATP is used, it breaks down into adenosine diphosphate (ADP).
For regeneration of ADP into ATP for more energy, creatine phosphate (CP) is needed. It is the CP that regenerates the ATP. Without CP, ATP could provide energy for only a few seconds. With CP, the ATP-PC system can provide energy for about 30 seconds before other energy systems must take over. Thus, this ATP-CP system (outlined below), provides immediate anaerobic energy for muscle contraction.
ATP = ADP + Phosphate + Energy
ADP + CP = ATP + Creatine
Lactic Acid and ATP-CP System for Anaerobic Work
When all-out exercise continues beyond 30 seconds, the only way to continue providing ATP to the exercising muscle is by using sugar (glucose) in the muscle.
Sugar in the muscle is obtained from glycogen, and the process of breaking down sugar for energy is called glycolysis. However, in the process of generating ATP from glucose, lactic acid (also known as lactate) is formed.
Normally there is a only a small amount of lactate in blood and muscle. When lactate begins to accumulate in muscle and then blood, you will begin to experience muscular fatigue, unless it is cleared by the body.
Lactate is cleared from the muscle if the intensity of the exercise is moderate. This happens because after a few minutes the aerobic or oxygen system, which supplies energy for sustained work, kicks in. If an all-out effort is sustained, fatigue is inevitable within three to five minutes.
Oxygen System for Aerobic Energy
The oxygen, or aerobic, system provides energy to support long-term steady state exercise, such as long distance running or swimming.
Muscles can use both glucose and fatty acids for energy. These fuel sources can be taken from the circulating blood and from stores within the muscle. Glucose is stored as glycogen and fatty acids are stored as “triglycerides” in the muscle. When long duration activities are performed at a slow pace more “fat” in the form of fatty acids is used for energy than muscle glycogen.
During many types of exercise, all three energy transfer systems are used at various times. The amount that each system contributes to energy metabolism is related to the duration, intensity and type of activity. In general, high intensity, short duration exercises rely mainly on anaerobic energy.
Energy Systems and Physical Activities
Now that you have a greater understanding of the three energy systems – take some time to examine the types of physical activities they are used in.
The table below describes the percentage of the energy systems use in a range of physical activities.
Table 1.1. Percentage Contributed by Each Energy System to Overall Energy Needs of Various Activities
Running - 100m
Running - 6 miles
Skiing Downhill - Racing
Skiing - Cross-Country
Swimming - 50m
Swimming - 1500m
ATP- CP System
Lactic Acid & ATP-CP System
Oxygen Aerobic System
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