General Principles for Conditioning

Overload refers to when a system is stressed beyond what it considers to be normal. The body’s response is to maintain homeostasis. To do this, it must overcompensate and make the system stronger, so that the next time the stimulus will not be as disruptive to maintaining homeostasis. The body is specific in its response to stressors. Certain exercises elicit specific adaptations creating distinct training effects, which is referred to as the Specific Adaptations to Imposed Demands (SAID) principle. What you do is what will improve, i.e., bench pressing will improve bench pressing not running.

Progression in overload must continue to improve. The stressors have to be increased to continue resulting in improvements. The best way to progressively overload the training stimulus is to keep records of the training. When the body adapts and the workout gets easier, you will have records to indicate where or how to add stress to the body next.

Once a level of fitness is achieved, exercise must continue as conditioning is reversible. If training is discontinued, improvements are lost in 5 to 10 weeks. Maintenance of fitness levels can be maintained with two workouts per week.

Muscular strength refers to the force or tension a muscle can exert against a resistance in one maximal effort. To develop strength, use progressive-resistance exercises in the overload zone. The amount of tension is the important stimulus for strength gains. The greater the tension, the greater the stimulus, the greater the response (increase in strength).

The ability of muscles to perform repeated contractions for an extended period of time is muscular endurance. The amount of tension is not as important to develop endurance as is the number of contractions or duration of the activity.

Adequate recovery is necessary to allow muscles and the body to recover from exercise. After a resistance training workout, muscle requires 48 hours rest for optimal recovery.

Threshold of training refers to the fact that minimal and optimal amounts of exercise are necessary to develop fitness. For optimal strength increases, the threshold for frequency is 3 workout days per week and for intensity 67% of one’s 1 maximum repetition for a particular muscle or muscle group.


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