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Principles of training   Back to Training index

"Principles" here means things to think about when you're planning a training regime. This page describes seven principles:

Frequency Reversibility
Intensity Progression
Duration Specificity

The "Examples" in the table below are only there to show the kind of thing that each principle covers; they aren't comprehensive.
Principle Description Example
 Frequency How often a training exercise is carried out; usually the frequency of training sessions.   Three sessions per week is typical for weight training.
 Intensity How 'Hard' a session or exercise is   Intensity measures could be: weight or resistance used in strength training; speed of completion of a run; 'perceived rating of exertion' (PRE)
 Duration .How long a particular exercise takes   Time for a jogging session; number of 'sets' and 'repetitions' in resistance training.
 Overload You get little body development unless you stress the body beyond it's current capability; it's as if you develop only just enough to do what you usually do. So fitness training needs to push you beyond your current limits - to 'overload' the current capability.   To run a mile comfortably, you might practice running two miles. To shoot 60 arrows easily, you might practice regularly with 100, shoot 50% faster than competition rate, or do muscle training that substantially tires the shooting muscles.
 Reversibility What training can achieve, disuse can undo. Use it, or lose it!  

The classic example is the main energy store (specifically, your glycogen reserve). This reserve is very susceptible to training, and trained reserves can be triple the normal reserve. But on disuse of even a few weeks, the extra reserve just fades away. Easy come, easy go.

The implications; Training programmes avoid long breaks; long breaks (injury, holidays...) mean restarting at a lower level of effort.

 Progression If overload is necessary, what happens when your fitness improves with training?
To keep developing, you need to keep overloading, and that means the training load has to increase, or 'progress'.
  Examples: Beginers start with a light bow and 'progress' to heavier bows. A weights regime progressively increases weights, repetitions, or cuts rest time, depending on the intent.
 Specificity Substantial research shows that training is extraordinarily specific in its effect. Strength training does not add much endurance and vice versa; training one muscle group has little effect on others; training for one movement pattern often does not transfer to even quite closely related movements.   Training to lift dumbells makes you a better dumbell lifter. It may have little or no effect on your shooting.
Implication: The intensity and duration of training must match the sport closely, and it's important to train the right muscle groups.