Principles of Exercise
Adherence to certain basic exercise principles is important for developing an effective program. The principles of exercise apply to everyone at all levels of physical training, from the Olympic-caliber athlete to the weekend jogger. They also apply to fitness training for military personnel.
These basic principles of exercise must be followed:
- Regularity. To achieve a training effect, a person must exercise of ten. One should strive to exercise each of the first four fitness components at least three times a week. Infrequent exercise can do more harm than good. Regularity is also important in resting, sleeping, and following a good diet.
- Progression. The intensity (how hard) and/or duration (how long) of exercise must gradually increase to improve the level of fitness.
- Balance. To be effective, a program should include activities that address all the fitness components, since overemphasizing any one of them may hurt the others.
- Variety. Providing a variety of activities reduces boredom and increases motivation and progress.
- Specificity. Training must be geared toward specific goals. For example, soldiers become better runners if their training emphasizes running. Although swimming is great exercise, it does not improve a 2-mile-run time as much as a running program does.
- 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. Another way to allow recovery is to alternate the muscle groups exercised every other day, especially when training for strength and/or muscle endurance.
- Overload. The work load of each exercise session must exceed the normal demands placed on the body in order to bring about a training effect.