Fitness – Basic Principles

To get the best results from your exercise efforts it is extremely important to understand the basic components of fitness and the principles of programme design. All too often I see people making a lot of effort but not getting the results for all their hard work. To get the best results trainees must follow the scientific principles of effective exercise programming. There are 6 components of fitness and health, which are nutrition, Cardiorespiratory (CR) endurance, muscular strength, muscular endurance, flexibility, and body composition.


Improving the first four components will have a positive impact on body composition and will result in less body fat. Excessive body fat detracts from the other fitness components, reduces performance, detracts from appearance, and negatively affects your health.


The 6 components of health and fitness are well known. It is the application of these components that many get wrong. Most know that cardiovascular exercise is important, we all know that stretching is good, and in recent years it is great to see that weight training is becoming more recognised for its health and appearance benefits… particularly amongst women. The downfall is how people organise and perform these components in their routines and schedules. For this reason there are clear principles of exercise that need to be followed when developing a fitness and exercise programme.


Adherence to certain basic exercise principles is important for developing an effective program. The same principles of exercise apply to everyone at all levels of physical training, from the Olympic-caliber powerlifting athlete to the weekend jogger. The 7 principles of exercise are:


1 – Consistency (Regularity): To achieve a training effect, you must exercise often. Your system needs consistent stimulus to create change. It’s the big picture that counts. Infrequent exercise can do more harm than good. Regularity is also important with regard to resting, sleeping, and following a sensible diet.


2 – Progression: The intensity (how hard) and duration (how long) of exercise must gradually increase or vary to improve the level of fitness or muscle capacity.


3 – Balance: To be effective, a program should promote correct function and postural balance. For optimal health a routine should include activities that address all the fitness components, since overemphasizing any one of them may under develop the others.


4 – Variety: Completing a variety of activities reduces boredom, increases motivation and progress. It also helps to prevent pattern overload and overtraining syndromes


5 – Specificity: Training must be geared toward specific goals. For example, people become better runners if their training emphasizes correct running progression and consistency. Although swimming is great exercise, it does not improve a 2-mile-run time as much as a correct running program will.


6 – Overload: The workload of each exercise session must exceed the normal demands placed on the body or the previous comfortable level of exercise in order to bring about results. If you do not overload your system there is no requirement for your body to improve. Therefore, the ladies who lift weights that are lighter than their handbags are not going to see any improvements


7 – 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(s) to help permit recovery. Likewise, if your body has completed a couple of days intense exercise you must have a rest day to allow your central nervous system to recover. Exercise actually damages your body… only when you rest does your body reap the rewards from your efforts. Correct recovery is essential.


These basic principles of exercise must be followed. It is how well individuals manipulate and apply these principles to how effective their training will be and how quickly they will see results.