Basic Training Concepts
This post covers basic fitness concepts and seek to provide an overview of the fundamental elements that contribute to overall physical fitness. It covers a range of topics that collectively form the foundation of a well-rounded fitness regimen. The post aims to educate readers about the essential components necessary for achieving and maintaining optimal fitness levels. By understanding these components, individuals can tailor their exercise routines to target specific areas and effectively improve their overall fitness.
Table of Concepts
Barriers to exercise
Anything that acts as a barrier actual or potential to the fulfilment of an active existence. Examples include, not enough time to exercise; inconvenience; poor self-motivation; finding exercise boring; lacking confidence (low self-efficacy); fear of injury; poor self-management skills (setting personal goals, and monitoring progress); lacking support from family and friends; not having parks, sidewalks, bicycle trails, or safe and pleasant walking paths convenient to homes or offices.
Concentric and eccentric contractions are two of the three distinct phases in the movement of muscles and tendons, the other one being isometric contraction (no movement).
Concentric training is the shortening phase of a lift (often called the positive aspect). Examples include rising out of the bottom of a squat, pressing the bar up when benching and standing up with a deadlift.
Another way to think of concentric exercises is moving a weight away from the pull of gravity. With a push-up, the concentric phase would be when you extend your arms and push your body away from the floor, with the eccentric phase being the controlled return, resisting against the weight and gravity.
Likewise, with a body-weight squat, the concentric portion is involved when you extend your legs to a standing position and the eccentric with the controlled descent towards the floor. In both cases, you are working against the pull of gravity as you move your torso upwards and controlling its pull on the return.
Physical conditioning that exercises the heart, lungs and associated blood vessels. In other words, when you do a cardio session, you’re giving your heart, lungs and circulatory system (in addition to any other muscle groups that you use) a good workout.
Cardiovascular exercises are extremely important because this system is effectively your body’s engine. Without a strong engine, you’ll be going nowhere, no matter how strong your body is!
Components of Fitness
There are 11 components of physical fitness. If you are not incorporating all components of physical fitness into your daily exercise program, then you are not doing enough to improve your fitness level and overall health.
The 11 Components of Physical Fitness include Agility, Balance, Body Composition, Cardiovascular Endurance, Coordination, Flexibility, Muscular Strength, Muscular Endurance, Power. Reaction Time and Speed.
An eccentric contraction is the motion of an active muscle while it is lengthening under load. Eccentric training is repetitively doing eccentric muscle contractions. For example, in a biceps curl, the action of lowering the dumbbell back down from the lift is the eccentric phase of that exercise. Whilst the dumbbell is being lowered the biceps are in a state of muscle contraction to control the rate of descent of the dumbbell (see Contraction section above).
In resistance training, training to failure is repeating an exercise (such as the bench press) to the point of momentary muscular failure, i.e. the point where the neuromuscular system can no longer produce adequate force to overcome a specific workload. For example, undertaking push-ups continuously until you cannot do one more repetition.
One of the three forms of muscle contraction (the other two being Eccentric and Concentric) This is where the muscle remains static, and so do not extend or contract.
An example of this would be with a plank exercise. Assume a push-up position, or rest on your forearms (or) elbows under your shoulders and contract your abs, with head, back and pelvis aligned hold your body in the ‘plank position. Often for between 30 to 60 seconds. You’re still working against gravity, but without movement and solely to keep your body in one position.
MHR (Maximum Heart Rate)
The highest number of beats per minute your heart can pump under maximum stress.
MSE (Muscular Strength-Endurance) Continuum
A resistance training concept with continuum ranges from ‘strength’ to ‘endurance’. The strength here is defined as the amount of force a muscle can produce and is usually measured by the maximum amount of force a muscle can produce in a single effort (represented by ‘1 rep maximum’ – meaning the maximum load that can be overcome by a single effort). In English, this means the maximum amount of weight you can safely lift with one repetition. Two repetitions would result in you dropping the weight.
Endurance on the continuum is defined as the ability of a muscle or group of muscles to sustain repeated contractions against a resistance for an extended period of time (for example, the ability to exert lower weights (say 70% of your 1 rep maximum) repeatedly over time).
The aim of Strength training on the continuum emphasises low reps and high loads whereas higher reps and lower loads are the aims of Endurance. In the middle of this continuum exists the Hypertrophy range (approximately – 85-90%) which is a middle ground for strength and endurance goals and which produces the greatest results in muscle enlargement).
The Overload principle is a basic sports fitness training concept. It means that in order to improve, athletes must continually work harder as their bodies adjust to existing workouts. Overloading also plays a role in skill learning. Increasing strength requires lifting progressively heavier weight loads. In bodyweight exercises this principle can apply to duration, the volume of training, increasing angles to increase resistance etc.
For example, moving onto handstand push-ups once shoulder push-ups have become manageable, there needs to be some form of exercise development to achieve overload and push towards future goals.
When applied to an exercise program, the term “plateau” refers to a sudden and dramatic decrease in the noticeable results of your regular workouts. This can manifest itself in both strength and cardiovascular training, as well as in weight loss. The body is very capable of quickly adjusting to meet the demands of any workout. If your workout is not continually evolving to keep up with the increases in strength and endurance that your body is making, plateaus will occur.
Plateaus are the results of your body’s impressive ability to adjust to stress and change. Your body mass is the major factor that determines your body’s basal metabolic rate, or the rate at which you burn calories for essential body functions. When you reduce your body’s mass through exercise, your basal metabolic rate also declines. Your body burns fewer calories at rest, and weight loss tends to slow or stop completely as a result of your reduced metabolic rate. A body plateau is often called a weight loss plateau because it most commonly refers to a sudden stop of weight loss after beginning a diet or workout plan.
Another type of body plateau refers to a sudden stop in your body’s ability to gain muscle, weight or increased strength. Body plateaus are similar to weight loss plateaus in the sense that they are the result of your body’s successful adaptation to your fitness regime. Strength training tends to increase basal metabolic rates because body mass increases rather than decreases, so the management of a body plateau is different from the management of a weight loss plateau.
See Progression below for overcoming plateaus.
Planes of Movement
Training in three planes of motion is the best way to improve your posture, avoid injury and get better results. The body moves in three planes which are sagittal, frontal and transverse.
Any exercise program you do should encourage all three of these planes so you’re moving like you would in everyday life activities. The importance of functional training, as opposed to traditional methods of resistance training, is on the rise. It is very important to keep our ability as we age to function through all three planes of movement, especially as we become more sedentary in our daily lives.
– Sagittal Plane
Dividing the body into left and right halves using an imaginary line gives us the sagittal plane. Any forward and backward movement parallel to this line occurs in the sagittal plane. A walking lunge forward and backwards is a perfect way to work this movement pattern.
– Frontal Plane
Dividing the body into front and back halves and you have the frontal plane. Any lateral (side) movement parallel to the line will occur in the frontal plane. A dumbbell lateral raise is a great way to work this movement pattern.
– Transverse Plane
The transverse plane divides the body into superior and inferior halves. Movement parallel to the waistline, otherwise known as rotational movement, occurs in the transverse plane. A horizontal wood chop is a great way to work this movement pattern.
The principle of progression states that you should increase overload, which can be achieved by increasing the frequency, intensity, time, and type of the exercise when your body has adapted to its current routine. The specificity principle states that only targeted exercises will improve specific fitness goals.
Push Pull routines
Dividing your body into different parts don’t take into account how it actually moves, and which muscles are involved in each movement. You may intend to work solely the chest one day, yet any press-ups or bench dips you do will inevitably work your shoulders as well. If you follow that with an all-shoulder workout within a couple of days, don’t expect your deltoids (and shoulder joints) to be ready for the effort. Furthermore, if you work triceps a day or so after that, you risk overtraining them as well, since they also assist in most chest and shoulder exercises.
In contrast, for efficiencies sake, you could organize your workout according to pushing and pulling movements. Therefore allowing your chest, shoulders, thighs, and triceps muscles (pushing muscles) to be targeted on the push days. Similarly, your back, hamstrings, biceps, and rear deltoids (pulling muscles) get worked on the pull days. Then you can repeat both workouts once more in the same week, doubling the frequency with which each muscle gets trained without impacting their recovery.
Sets. Reps. Time.
A rep (or repetition) is a single movement of any exercise. 10 Reps= 10 Repetitions of one exercise.
A set is a series of reps of an exercise done in sequence (usually without rest). So why use more or fewer sets? Beginners tend to make gains with fewer sets (3 seems to work very well) whereas intermediate/advanced athletes may need 4-8 sets to benefit from the exercise.
Duration of the set or session. For example, in EMOM and Tabata workouts Time is an important component.
Time under Tension
Time under Tension – is commonly used in resistance training. Essentially, it refers to how long a muscle is under strain during a set. A typical set of 10 reps for an average lifter will take anywhere from 15-25 seconds depending on lifting speed. Time under tension is the time your muscle spends under load during a set. This includes the time spent in the concentric (shortening) phase, peak contraction phase, and eccentric (lengthening) phase.
So, if you perform a 10-rep set of push-ups, and each rep takes you 3 seconds to complete, your muscle experiences 30 seconds of time under tension.
If you were to perform that same set but spend 2 seconds lifting the weight (concentric phase), 1 second pausing during peak contraction, and 3 seconds lowering the weight (eccentric phase), those same 10 reps would give you approximately 60 seconds of Time under Tension.