To prompt the body to adapt to a training program you need to subject it to physical stress that is greater than that experienced in everyday living. This is called overload, or ‘reaching failure’. The main principles of physical adaption from overload are that the overload be greater than the body is usually subjected too, and that the body is given sufficient time to adapt.
As the body adapts and your fitness improves you will need to keep ramping up the difficulty of your training. This allows you to reach the point of overload for your new ability. If you do not increase the difficulty then your progress will slow down and eventually plateau.
There are 4 principles to overload, which are type, intensity, duration and frequency. These principles are expanded on below.
Type- The type of training will determine what adaptions are made by the body. Each training principle, whether strength, cardiovascular endurance or flexibility, requires a different type of training to reach overload and so to progress. For example cardio endurance will focus on your heart rate, whilst muscular power would focus on the weight being lifted and the tempo of each repetition.
Intensity and Duration- Training must be of a sufficient intensity and duration for overload to occur. For example if you were trying to increase your flexibility then you would focus on the range of movement in the stretch and the length of time the stretch is held.
Frequency- How regularly you train must be sufficient for adaption to occur efficiently. It must be often enough for the changes in the bodies tissues to build up, but have big enough gaps to allow the body to adapt and recover between sessions.
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