The Principles of Training

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The principles of a training program are the basic rules and ideas that must be followed in order for a training program to be of any help. Should these be ignored or not adhered to, the training done by the athlete would become obsolete and worthless. When designing an effective training program a coach and his/her athlete have many things to bear in mind. The law of specificity states that the training undertaken by a person must be relevant to his or her sport. For example, it would be pointless for a top cyclist to do most of their training in a swimming pool. Whilst cross training may have its advantages in the “base” stages of a training regime, for the most part, training on land doing activities like spinning sessions is far more relevant and would also determine a more positive end result.

The idea of specificity does not just affect the muscles or actions undertaken, it also involves energy systems. The energy systems that are used in a training regime should replicate the energy systems used in competitions of that sport. It is always a good idea to perform aerobic and endurance training in one session, and to perform anaerobically stressing tasks in another session. This way a training regime would have far more effect than if the specificity rules were to be ignored.

Progressive overload During my time spent training towards large events or competitions, I have often experienced what a progressive overload feels like. When you wake up in the morning, your heart rate is usually higher than normal. Your muscles feel tired and there is a constant feeling that you really need to have a sleep. It is also common to feel slightly “on edge” or unsociable, this is all part of being tired.

So it sounds like experiencing overload has very little advantages. However, a true athlete will be able to see beyond their present discomforts and understand that it will benefit them greatly in the long run. Progressive overload is key to improving. It is placing stress upon the body for a specified amount of time and usually involves high intensity work done on a very regular basis. To phrase it differently, progressive overload is “over training”. However, in the case of progressive overload, it is controlled.

After any overload period, there is a rest period. During this time an athlete (especially cyclists) will do either no or very little training. Any exercise that is done is short and easy, no intense efforts are to be done. What this does is allow the body to recover from the large amounts of stress that have recently been placed upon it. As a result of this, the athlete will gain in fitness and strength. This is how a training program works.

Reversibility Reversibility is what I went through last November when I took time off training after I won the Nationals. It is the deterioration of performance and fitness as a result of my training being drastically decreased for a long period of time. The reason for this happening to me is simply because instead of training down, I just suddenly stopped, which is not always a very beneficial thing to do, as muscle can quickly turn into a flabbier substance due to the sudden decrease for its need. Basically, reversibility means no or little exercise results in your fitness levels dropping.

For example, in a recent test, 7 weeks of inactivity has resulted in the following physiological effects: 1. Significant decreases in maximum oxygen uptake – up to 27% – this shows the decreasing efficiency of the cardiovascular system. 2. Stroke volume and cardiac output can decrease by up to 30%. 3. Muscle mass and strength also deteriorates, but not as quickly. Individual difference As an athlete becomes more and more serious and professional about their training, their need for an individual training regime is essentially vital. What might work for one athlete may not work for another. A coach must therefore be very sympathetic and understanding to the needs of the individual athlete and must adjust training programmes to suit them.

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