Understanding Components of Fitness for Effective Training
Last month we touched on barriers to maintaining an exercise program, where you are at as your start point, what sort of goals you should be making for that start point and understanding how you like to exercise. This month we will look at components of fitness and break them down into a progressive training plan using our Integrated Fitness Template.
Diagram: American Council on Exercise, Integrated Fitness Template.
Rehabilitation: Allied Health Professional: Physio, Chiro, Osteopath. These are your first stop for acute injuries and to treat chronic problems.
Stability/Mobility Training: ‘Stabilize the give, Mobilize the restriction’. This is your foundation work. You need to be able to minimize your restrictions to good movement so that you are moving correctly and reducing your risk of injury and to strengthen or stabilize the areas with too much give (or weakness).
Movement Retraining: ‘Bones in the correct alignment throughout the movement’. This is the phase were you learn correct movement patterns. This will be easy if you’ve done a good job of your stability/mobility training phase. Generally the ordering of this phase would be 1. Learn the movement pattern, 2. Practice until it is easy for you to remember and perform, 3. Start to add light loading or more complex patterning and challenge co-ordination. You can do this phase with some load but not heavy load to failure point until you have locked down that patterning.
Load Training: ‘Working to muscular failure only once correct alignment can be maintained throughout the movement’. Load can include weights, time, longer levers, Pilates studio equipment, resistance bands and more. Working to muscular failure triggers the body to build strength. This is often the error made in a lot of peoples’ training sessions. They just aren’t pushing that extra little bit to get to muscular failure point, which in turn doesn’t deliver the gains in strength. Depending on your goals you will have different loading ratios, for example; for general strengthening and toning its common to have a loading of 12RM (Repetition Maximum) which means it takes 12 repetitions of the exercise with that load to reach failure point with multiple sets. If your goal was to build muscle and strength you might be working on 8-10RM. Your repetition maximum can be calculated with some easy tools online or app or speak to a Personal Trainer to get some help setting up your program.
Performance Training: ‘Complexity of movements, agility, plyometrics, speed, power’. When you have done a thorough job of the previous components you’ll be ready and strong enough to really push things and mix them up! Performance training can be hard but fun and rewarding work. When you are working on these sorts of skills you really want to know that you are moving correctly, you’re achieving good mobility or range throughout your movements, you are strong in them because you’ve done the strength training. Working in this area you could be prone to injuries if you have muscular or postural imbalances or you’re not properly prepared or coached. For these reasons, seeking some help in this and all phases of the Integrate Fitness Template is highly advised.
A thorough Health and Fitness Assessment will assess your movement quality, areas of restriction and instability and allow you to work on these ‘weak links’ in your system.
There are also levels of cardiovascular training which are important to understand and to train in the correct manner. Working at your maximum all the time will simply exhaust your system quickly but working at less than the right level will get you very little gains for your time. Let’s look at these systems.
Cardio Base Training: this is the base of your cardiovascular exercise and requires some time put in. At this stage you work at a moderate pace where you could maintain some form of conversation but would need to catch your breath every sentence. Not so easy you could talk all day but not so hard you cannot speak. You are using oxygen (aerobic) for fuel and as this in unlimited in your body (keep breathing) you can continue indefinitely.
Cardio Interval Training: A mix of cardio base training with regular increases in intensity (speed, incline/hills, harder exercise) that are of short durations after which you drop back to your base level to continue for a set amount of time. When you first start you might choose to walk for 2 minutes and jog for 30sec-60sec. As you become fitter you will start to walk for shorter times and jog for longer times, i.e., walk 1 minute, jog 1 minute. This helps train your system to become more efficient, to recover faster and is an achievable way to move into higher intensity exercise safely.
Anaerobic System: this is where you are working still below your maximum level but you are also working at a high intensity. This system works anaerobically (without oxygen) so uses muscle stores of glycogen for energy. Estimates are that most people have approximately 2 minutes’ worth of this energy in their muscles for use after which you need to recover for approx. 2 minutes to facilitate refuelling of this system. This is why you tire fast if you work too hard when you first start. You simply need to work on your cardio base training more with smaller forays into the anaerobic system.
Maximum Effort: When you are pushing yourself to that ‘all-in’ or ‘everything you have’ point you are using another energy system called ATP-PC (Adenosine Tri-Phosphate-Phosphocreatine) basically a chemical reaction in the muscles that will last approx.. 30 seconds then the system is spent and requires recovery (2mins) before use again.
A good little routine is to start with your cardio base training like a brisk walk, then add in a jog for 1-2 minutes, then add in an all-out maximum sprint for 20-30 seconds. Then return to the walk for around 2 minutes to allow system recovery and refuelling then repeat a few times. As you become fitter the amount or intensity of your exercise in your cardio base will increase so instead of walking you will be able to jog in time.
I hope this has shed some light on the functions of the body and the progression of fitness from your starting point (which will be different for everyone) into a more active, physically capable and fitter person.
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Yours in Health & Fitness & Integrated Fitness Templates,
Cooloola Coast Pilates & Personal Training